You’d think that a 37-acre park, and what is probably the main outdoor recreational and sports facility in Bangor, would be well signposted and heard of. Not really. A massive park within metres of Bangor Main Street (following a slight detour along Hamilton Road). While Ward Park in Bangor is a popular escape for locals, it is pretty much overlooked when it comes to visitors to our delightful seaside city. But we would definitely recommend calling in for a visit.
Unlike Castle Park in Bangor, Ward Park is more like your traditional town centre park, with ponds, and ducks, and people feeding ducks (although you’re told not to). Then there are some more unique wildfowl and even aviaries and breeding pens with fancy exotic birds. All around it’s just a nice place to potter about with leafy canopies and lots of nature and wildlife to keep you company along the way.
Monuments in Ward Park Bangor
The central monument in Ward Park is the War Memorial and cenotaph celebrating those who had fought and died in the World Wars. Each year on Remembrance Day (11th November) Ward Park will hold parades and commemoration with the laying of wreaths at the base of the monument.
Another War Time memorial is just opposite the monument, a German submarine gun which was originally presented to recognise the valour of the famous Bangorian Barry Bingham (former resident of Bangor Castle) who received the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the Battle of Jutland in World War 1. This is now a great attraction for kids to swing upside down on.
The Aviary and Breeding Pens
You’ll likely hear the wildlife of Ward Park before you see it, with armies of ducks, and geese, and moorhens (or maybe they’re coots) given free reign of the park. They’ll probably then stalk you from your arrival in anticipation of being fed some bread. Note, there are fat-shaming signs around Ward Park saying not to feed Bangor’s chonky birds, so at least bring along something more nutritious, like birdseed or duck pellets, to go with the carb-loaded loaves.
The tropical birds of the park are otherwise held in aviaries and breeding pens found next to the ponds opposite the big gun and cenotaph by the Hamilton Road entrance. Again, you’ll probably hear them before you see them, so you can also avoid them if you’re not fussed about seeing birds in cages. But they do have a peacock. Often nearby, standing guard over the islands and the ponds of the park, will be the resident heron.
Fun fact (actually, a quite horrific fact). A good few years back (2005), some drunken louts (probably from out of town) broke into the bird cages and slaughtered 24 banty hens and a peacock (a very rare act of barbarism in our sunny seaside city). So the local media obviously tracked down local councillor ‘Dianna Peacock’ to report on it.
Summer Events in Ward Park
Like most of Bangor, the busier times will be the summer months, when the sun’s out and flowers are blooming, and regular events happening including Music in the Park. These live music events take place at the bandstand near the Bangor Carnegie Library side of the Park and they’re just hard to miss when arriving from the Hamilton Road entrance to the park. These are part of wider summer events organised by the Open House Festival each year and feature a diverse range of artists and musicians. (Ward Park Events Facebook here).
Aside from the more localised happenings, Ward Park has been host to rather massive events with global talents and for a number of years, it was the venue for larger concerts (like Tennents Vital) on the wider open spaces of the park on the far side near Gransha Road. The lad Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol (who is a local Bangorian) may also randomly turn up for impromptu sets at the Ward Park bandstand. Or that might have been a one-off.
Sports and Activities in Ward Park
At the main entrance of Ward Park (the Hamilton Road entrance), is where most of the attractions are found. This includes the bowling greens, which is a surprisingly busy sport during the summer months in Bangor, and are surprisingly fun to watch (or maybe that’s just me). Then over nearer the library, there’s the kid’s playpark, with swings and roundabouts and whatnot. Many independent local groups will also host activities in this part of Ward Park, like Caroline Sacramentos Pilates, Bangor Buccaneers Baseball, and, feel free to message if you can think of others.
Otherwise, all the major sports facilities are on the opposite side of Ward Park (Castle Road Entrance) with all-weather hockey pitches, a cricket pitch, and tennis courts. This side of the park would also host the main athletics arena in Bangor before the Bangor Sportsplex opened in the Bangor West area which is a fair bit outside of the centre. However, there are still regular park runs organised in Ward Park for those interested in joining (Bangor Parkrun here).
How to Get to Ward Park?
There are probably too many entries to list here, so we’re just sharing the obvious entry points, and how to get to the main attractions of Ward Park (rather than the connecting sports fields).
How to get to Ward Park from Bangor Bus & Bangor Train Station?
Follow the Main Street into the centre of Bangor, then take a right at the junction next to Boots Chemist. There are then two alternative routes here:
Castle Street (7-mins): Following the nearside road (Castle Street) leads to the back entrance of Ward Park where it’s found on the left just after Bangor Hospital and next to the lights/junction with the school/educational campuses.
Hamilton Road (6-mins): Following the farside road (Hamilton Road) leads to the front entrance where most of the attractions of the park are located. Just follow Hamilton Road until the traffic lights/junction and Ward Park will be ahead and on the right. It’s hard to miss. If you do it connects to Bangor Carnegie Library. It is also quicker to reach on foot than the Castle Street entrance.
Parking at Ward Park?
There is free parking near the Hamilton Road entrance to Ward Park on Park Drive. However, these parking spaces are generally busy, so I often have to pass through and park instead near the back entrance to Ward Park on Castle Road. Normally there is plenty of free on-street parking alongside the tennis courts and here’s a car park just a bit further up at the track facilities (Gransha Road).