Trailblazing Speakers and Fun Free Activities Added to the Stellar Line Up for Mount Stewart Conversations Festival 2018

Mount Stewart

Including a talk from National Trust Director-General Hilary McGrady, a panel full of leading ladies in in the arts and Kelli Turtle on Rebel Women in Northern Ireland History

The line-up for Mount Stewart Conversations Festival just got bigger, and even louder, with additions from the world of politics, literature, music and the National Trust’s own Northern Irish-born Director General.

Exciting new additions to the jam-packed programme include:

  • Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust on her vision for the future of Europe’s largest conservation charity and what it means in the 21st Century.
  • Women & the art of conflict resolution – a firecracker panel of leading ladies in the arts including Helen Marriage (Artichoke), artist Rita Duffy and writer Jan Carson.
  • Northern Ireland – How Does it go again? Academic Sophie Long will join journalist Claire Mitchell, economist Paul Gosling and author David Aaronovitch to debate our future. They will set aside all arguments on identity to examine the real issues that will make or break us.
  • Kelli Turtle – this engaging feminist campaigner will tell the stories of Northern Ireland’s rebel women – the suffrage activists who shook up society.
  • What Nature Needs from Us – a look at the stark challenges facing our wildlife and what we can do about them, led by National Trust NI Regional Director Heather McLachlan with the RSPB’s Joanne Sherwood and Patrick Casement.

The Festival, which returns for 2018 on the 1st and 2nd of September on the shores of Strangford Lough, will not only take in an amazing line up of talks and debates, playing host to Mercury Prize nominees, artists, writers, journalists and politicians but will also offer an action-packed programme of free, have-a-go activities.

Free, fun activities

There will be something for everyone in ‘The Next Village’ – a future-looking experimental sensory arts area where the whole family can enjoy fun interactive ukulele workshops, Indian art sessions, African dance and design-your-own comic book workshops to an experiment with a drone-powered paintbrush!

The best news? Access to Mount Stewart to have a go at all these activities is free so everyone is encouraged to come along and join the conversations. Some talks will be ticketed and a cost will apply but there is so much going on around the talks that cost nothing at all.

Hearing from Hilary

On Sunday the 2nd of September the Director General of the National Trust, Hilary McGrady will share her personal journey to the top of the National Trust. As a Northern Ireland native, Hilary has risen through the ranks of the National Trust and is now Director-General of Europe’s largest conservation charity.

Hilary commented, “I’m really proud that the National Trust inspires debate on some of the most important issues of our time, and I’m looking forward to talking to a packed audience about how the National Trust challenges us to think differently.”

Music lovers rejoice

If music is your passion, you are certainly in for a treat. There will be opportunities to partake in a Sahara Blues guitar master class, a discussion on the political power of music and even a Rock ‘n’ Sausage Roll guitar masterclass.

Tickets are on sale now for these inspiring, mind-expanding talks at Mount Stewart Conversations Festival. For full programme details visit

With the gates of Mount Stewart opening for free for during Mount Stewart Conversations Festival, it is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience the magnificent grounds, exquisite gardens and the wonderful mansion house.

Love Belfast
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