The National Trust Mount Stewart team is announcing a partnership with Open House Festival, which will see Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2019 headlined by Sky News Presenter, Mark Austin.

The EMMY and BAFTA award-winning journalist and Washington Correspondent for Sky News will headline one of the two days of the Festival, 7 and 8 September 2019, which last year attracted over 6,000 attendees.

Mark will regale audiences with tales from his 35-year career, spanning warzones from Iraq to Afghanistan and Kosovo, and major sporting events including four Olympic Games and four World Cups. Mark said: “I’m extremely excited to be speaking at this wonderful event, in such a beautiful and historic setting. I’ve been to Northern Ireland many times, but this is my first visit to the Ards Peninsula, and I’m very much looking forward to my own conversation with Stephen Walker.”

More great news for attendees: based on last year’s success of throwing open the doors of the Mount Stewart estate to welcome visitors for free for the entire weekend, the National Trust, the UK’s largest conservation charity, is once again offering free entry to the grounds all weekend* so that people of all ages can join the debate and talk about the things that really matter to us today.

The wider programme for this, the fourth year of the Festival, will feature a stellar line-up of acclaimed guests who will engage visitors in debates, performances and talks on a vast array of inspirational subjects and offer an amazing programme of arts and entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks. New for this year is the partnership with Open House Festival, an independent music and arts charity which runs Bangor’s successful Open House and Seaside Revival Festivals.

Jon Kerr, General Manager at Mount Stewart said: “Over the years this estate, under Edith, Lady Londonderry, was famous for welcoming a glittering line up of leading political and literary guests as it played host to magical debates and discussions. The Festival celebrates Mount Stewart’s heritage as a historical nucleus of creativity, individuality and influence and encourages this legacy of conversation to continue today.

“Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2019 will lead from this remarkable history but will feel truly contemporary; intimate and participative, relevant and challenging, dynamic and fun. It will be embedded in the local community and the arts in Northern Ireland, in line with National Trust’s strategic aim of offering our visitors experiences which move, teach and inspire, but we are confident it will also have international appeal, drawing guests and audiences from beyond our borders.“

More details on the fascinating line up of speakers, the exciting programme of events and tickets will be available soon. Visit to find out more.

Access to Mount Stewart will be free. Selected talks will carry a ticket charge and will be available to book in advance. 

The two day festival is supported by both Ards and North Down Borough Council and Tourism NI.

As a conservation charity, the National Trust is bolstered by the support of volunteers. Our team turns great events into amazing experiences with the help of volunteers. If you would like to get involved by volunteering at Mount Stewart Conversations Festival, visit

Leave a Reply