The First Headline Events for Atlantic Sessions 2019 Announced!

14 – 17 November 2019

Ryan McMullan | Amanda St John | Matt McGinn | Tony Villiers | Cherym | Gemma Bradley | Beauty Sleep | New Pagans | Darkling Air | Gareth Dunlop |Eilidh Patterson |Brigid O’Neill & many more

Last year saw the 10th Anniversary of Atlantic Sessions and its sell-out success was proof that the festival continues to grow from strength to strength. Over 110 of Northern Ireland’s finest artists played in 23 venues in Portstewart and Portrush whilst audiences travelled from right across the province and further afield to hear different musicians play every hour throughout the four days. Restaurants, hotels, pubs, coffee shops, music venues and the Town Hall were packed and feedback has included that they haven’t been such numbers since the Irish Open. Restaurants and hoteliers commented it was the first time they had sold out in November, with the festival attracting new customers for them.

Welcoming this year’s line-up, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Sean Bateson said: “Ryan McMullan is a huge talent who has played to audiences around the world and we’re honored that he’ll be at the forefront of Atlantic Sessions 2019. To have an artist of his calibre on the bill is a well-earned endorsement for the festival which has cemented itself as being at the pinnacle of the local music scene. We’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of music fans to Portrush and Portstewart for four very exciting days and nights in November.”

Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody has cited Ryan as one of Northern Ireland’s most exciting artists with the voice of an angel, and said “Atlantic Sessions is an award-winning four day festival in Portrush and Portstewart with over 50 Northern Irish bands on the bill.  A festival with an incredible reputation for its passionate support of local talent.”

With these sentiments in mind, in addition to ticketed events, Atlantic Sessions features over 50 free gigs which will transform the seaside resorts.


A very special opening will celebrate Coleraine born Sam Henry and his remarkable collection of over 800 songs gathered from across the North Coast and beyond. We will screen ‘Sam Henry – Songs of the People’, a new documentary made for both BBC Northern Ireland and TG4 which explores his unique story. It is directed by acclaimed musician Meabh O’Hare and folklorists, archivists and contemporary music collectors, examine how Sam’s pioneering approach – in an official capacity and later when song collecting – placed him at the heart of rural communities and inspired his greatest work. It will be followed by a Q&A with the Producer and live performances.

Also on Thursday, The Muscle Shoals Sessions – Album Launch Party – celebrates the acclaimed Alabama venue which was founded in 1969 and which was made famous by the likes of Aretha FranklinRolling StonesElton JohnBoz ScaggsWillie NelsonPaul Simon and Bob Dylan. Amanda St John and her band will be joined by Tony Villiers. Amanda became the first independent Northern Irish/Irish artist in history to record in the legendary Muscle Shoals and her songs and performance style have been heavily influenced by these artists.


Friday will feature three of NI’s greatest pop rock bands and NI Music Prize nominees coming together for a colourful party – Cherym, Gemma Bradley and Beauty Sleep! Cherym released their first single “Take it Back” which received airplay from BBC Ulsters “Across the Line”, Dublin City FM and BBC Radio 1. The full EP “MouthBreatherz” was released on May 12th and gained a vast amount of plays from stations such as iRadio, TodayFM and Radio 6 Music. Beauty Sleep have earned a stellar reputation for crafting vibrant synth- driven pop music. Their captivating new album showcases golden vocal harmonies, dazzling synths and earworm hooks. Gemma Bradley meshes pop with the finest hand-picked sounds from R&B and Soul. Her debut single ‘Berserk’ earned her the title of the winner of the Christie Hennessy Contest and her sound has earned her slots on BBC Introducing and RTE.

‘When The Mountains Meet The Sea’ will bring together an ‘all-star band’ featuring Matt McGinn, Wilfie Gilbert, John McCullough, Nicky Scott, Matt Weir and Matt Curran, curated especially for Atlantic Sessions. Matt will be releasing his fourth album in 2020 and will be premiering many of these songs. An outstanding blend of soulful passion and melody that will haunt and inspire.

Friday will culminate in a showcase with Problem Patterns and New Pagans, and no punk night would be complete without the Godfather of Punk himself, Terri Hooley, bringing his DJ set.  Another NI Music Prize nominee, New Pagans create music that is vivid and engaged. The songs have massive riffs and rare dynamics. Problem Patterns is Ciara King, Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks and Alanah Smith. While often lyrically tongue in cheek, no subject is off limits!


Saturday’s highlights include the stunning Darkling Air who will be joined by their long time collaborators Arco String Quartet. The band are back with their latest LP ‘Ancestor’ and during The Atlantic Sessions 2019, attendees can expect a night of filmic folk-noir coupled with poetic lyrics, piano, guitar and strings producing a richly emotive and melancholic sound.

We are thrilled to announce that Ryan McMullan, a rare jewel in the crown of the current popular music scene, will headline this years festival, straight from his tour with Snow Patrol. Ryan has already earned a formidable reputation with in the European live music scene. After spending many years developing a dedicated local following, in 2017 he supported Ed Sheeran. 2019 saw his first Glastonbury performance and his largest Belfast show playing to 5000 adoring fans.


Sunday will open with a lunchtime ‘In the Round’ featuring the extraordinary Gareth Dunlop, Eilidh Patterson and Brigid O’Neill, hosted by BBC’s Ralph McLean. Gareth’s poetic vulnerability in his songs and distinctive, soulful voice has led to Gareth’s music being featured in a wide array of television shows including Bones, House, Lucifer, Switched at Birth, One Tree Hill, and NASHVILLE to name a few.  Over the years Gareth has toured in the UK, Europe and US opening for a diverse group of artists including Van Morrison, The Stereophonics, James Morrison and more.

This will be followed with M.Cambridge’s acclaimed ‘Sea Song’ album which will be performed by the shore.  Featuring sea songs based on old shanties, Ulster weaver-poet poems, traditional ballads and original compositions, it’s one of the most beautiful and remarkable albums released this year.

Atlantic Sessions will culminate with a showcase party curated by Bird and Bramble, who are dedicated to the promotion of music and creativity in NI.

Director of Snow Water and Atlantic Sessions programmer, Carolyn Mathers, commented:

“Northern Ireland is extraordinary in the richness of its talent and our artists are receiving international awards and acclaim. We look forward to hosting premieres of single, EP and albums, new collaborations that have been curated for the festival, NI Music Prize nominees, all with the backdrop of incredible coastal scenery.”

Tickets for headline events will GO ON SALE ON FRIDAY 20TH SEPT AT 9AM at Atlantic Sessions also features over 50 free gigs so follow us on @atlanticsess, facebook and for future announcements.


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