Bangor Market takes place every Wednesday (07:00am to 13:00pm) in the ASDA car park next to Market Street. And were I to sum it up in one word it would probably be ‘underwhelming’. But it does have potential. And I guess there is a bit of cultural and tourist intrigue for those looking for ‘authentic’ ‘local’ experiences in Bangor. Where Bangor Market has been taking place for a century now and Bangor has always been an important port for trade since the 1700s.
Otherwise the reputation of markets in Northern Ireland has not been great in recent years, where they’re probably better known for steeky clothes, knock-off gear, and things that you cannot legitimately sell in actual shops. And it was every kid’s nightmare for their mum to bring them home a Naf Naf Bomber Jacket, or just some random ridiculous clothes from the market. So many of these local markets died a death long ago, before town centres and high street shopping followed suit.
The Bangor Market
Stubbornly, Bangor Market continues to set up shop every Wednesday, and from a tourist’s perspective, it could be a great place to witness the eccentrics of the town and the local ‘characters’. It is primarily a fresh market as well so it’s a bit like a meeting point for local townies (town folk) and the cultchies (rural folk) selling fruit and veg, and flowers and stuff. There’s also a busy fishmonger.
The market is also a great place to find local Northern Irish foods with stalls selling all sorts of local food staples like potato bread, and soda bread, and there’s always loads of tray bakes. On this visit, I was also determined to take home something new going with a random “apple potato bread” which apparently goes well with sausages but I opt instead to eat it like a paratha with some leftover massaman from the night before.
Shopping Local in Bangor
Meanwhile, my mum was covering her usual weekly shopping list including sausage rolls, rock cakes, “huge carmel squares” that are “to die for”, and some GI something bread that’s too big for the toaster. Before giving us a tour of her favourite local shops in Bangor Town Centre including the Heatherlea Bakery for apple pie and scone and Mawhinney’s Butcher for some ground pork so we can make sausages.
Bangor Market is a bit of a quaint experience enjoyed more by the old folk of the town, but you do find the odd local food brands looking to revive the somewhat stale shopping climate in the town, which included the Olive Tree Bakes (who now have an Artisan cafe on the seafront) and the Guillemot Deli on our visit. And this is where I feel there is always potential in the Bangor market as a place to introduce new businesses or products. Although Wednesday morning is hardly the most convenient of times.
So I feel there are always opportunities in these local markets and one of my travel obsessions is the hugely popular night markets of Asia. And while you do have occasional markets popping up at local and seasonal events here, they always just disappear again. But St George’s Market in Central Belfast is a great example of how these markets can be successful, and just look at the annual Belfast Christmas Market. Just not on a Wednesday morning.
History of Bangor Market
Bangor Market has been located in the same location for a century or so only it used to occupy the entire car park before ASDA turned up and took over the area. But Bangor has always been an important trading town with steam-powered cotton mills along the seafront, and, as a harbour town, Bangor has always been a big source of customs revenue.
To this day some of the original structures exist including Bangor Market House which was built in 1780 and still stands (currently vacant) on Bangor Main Street. Then there is Bangor Custom House which was built way back in 1637 and now serves as the local tourist information office in Bangor (aka Tower House).
Where is Bangor Market?
Location: Market Street, Bangor.
Every Wednesday Bangor Market occupies the near side of ASDA car park behind the ASDA supermarket on Main Street in Bangor Northern Ireland. It is easy to reach on foot from either the bus and train station or, as we do, from the free parking at Queen’s Parade on Bangor Seafront. It is also possible to park in ASDA’s car park where parking is £1 for 3-hours.