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Living in Ards and North Down

The borough has a wealth of education, sports and leisure facilities and is home to one of the largest concentrations of artists and craft people living in Northern Ireland.

Residential property

House prices in Northern Ireland continued to rise from 2022 to 2023 with an annual increase of 1.6% up to the fourth quarter of 2023. The figures are from the NI Residential Property Price Index, which analyses almost all sales, including cash deals. In the first quarter of 2023, the average standardised price, across all property types, was £179,530.  The standardised house price for fourth quarter 2023 in Ards and North Down is £201,755.

For information on residential properties for sale visit:


In Ards and North Down residents benefit from 48 primary schools (of which seven are integrated); 12 post-primary schools and three specialist schools along with a vast number of grammar and secondary schools. Furthermore, the South Eastern Regional College has a number of campuses offering further education opportunities.

Sports & leisure

The Borough boasts six council owned leisure and sports centres including the purpose built Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex and the new-build leisure complex Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex in Newtownards. A list of all the centres can be found here.

Leisure Facility Details
Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex Bangor’s £38m Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex is home to Northern Ireland’s only Olympic size swimming pool alongside its state of the art gym, fitness and sports hall complex.
Londonderry Park Londonderry Park currently provides an informal open space together with a range of popular sports facilities. The prior facilities received a £6.5m redevelopment and enhancement to provide modern, state-of-the-art activities and facilities while maintaining the informal parkland.  
Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex The £28m multi-purpose sports and leisure facility offers indoor and outdoor leisure facilities including a fitness suite, swimming pool with children’s splash zone, high quality spa, indoor sports hall, multi-purpose activity dome, indoor adventure golf, an outdoor adventure playground and BMX and skate area.
Queens Leisure Complex Queens Leisure complex is managed by the Northern Community Leisure Trust on behalf of Ards and North Down Borough Council. The team also has a strong commitment to health and safety, quality and carbon reduction and strives to maintain the high standards of customer service.
Comber Leisure Centre  Comber Leisure Centre offers a gym area including a room dedicated to heavy resistance equipment, a health suite, outdoor astro turf and indoor rooms for hire. 
Portaferry Sports Centre  Portaferry Sports Centre includes a gym, sports hall and outdoor training area. A wide range of classes are available for all levels of fitness.

The arts, culture and heritage

Ards and North Down has one of the largest concentrations of artists and crafts people living and working in Northern Ireland; it is home to a thriving creative industry and this is also a unique visitor attraction.

Our main centres of artistic activity, Ards Art Centre, Ards Arts and The Creative Peninsula, provide the focus for much of the creative work; whether it is staging events to showcase talent or providing development opportunities for local makers and artists, there is always something to enjoy.

The area of Ards and North Down is committed to developing the Arts and Theatre industry, and with support from the Department of Employment and Learning and South Eastern Regional College (SERC), a £12M Performing Arts and Technology Innovation Centre has been built at SERC in Bangor. The 350 seat theatre provides high specification, bespoke accommodation for the Schools of Performing and Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Electrical Engineering and Computer and Software Engineering.

The Somme Museum examines Ireland's role in the 1st World War with special reference to the cross-community involvement in the 3 local volunteer Divisions: the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions and the 36th (Ulster) Division. Guided tours bring the visitor back in time to 1910 where they learn about the Home Rule Crisis, recruiting and training of men and life in the trenches.

North Down Museum packs a lot into a small space, telling the history of the area from the Bronze Age to the present day.  North Down Museum is situated at the rear of the Town Hall, Bangor Castle.  The Castle, built for the Hon. R.E. Ward in 1852, had a courtyard and stables and the Museum has developed around these.

The area is rich in Christian Heritage. Bangor Abbey, founded in 558, became a respected European centre of learning. Two of its most influential Saints, Columbanus and Gall, influenced the spread of Christianity across a number of European countries including, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Other sites of note nearby include Grey Abbey and Nendrum.

For more information on Arts and Culture visit :


Ards and North Down offers a range of activities to suit families, walkers, mountain bikers, golfers, fishing, sailing, divers and those with an interest in nature and heritage.

With a plethora of beaches and parks to choose from, a visitor to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be mesmerised by the enchanting landscape and stunning scenery on their doorstep. 

The area is also home to many attractions.  The Northern Ireland Visitor Attraction Survey 2021 as reported by NISRA found that:

  • Pickie Fun Park was the most visited of the Top 10 of visitor attractions in Northern Ireland.
  • The Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum, and North Down Museum were the 4th, 5th and 6th most visited museums in Northern Ireland respectively.

Some areas of interest include:

Bangor Castle Walled Garden

The garden is divided into four different sections, each with its own horticultural personality. It also boasts two unique pieces of sculpture inspired by the borough's maritime history. 

The Ward family designed the Bangor Castle Walled Garden in the 1840s. It was previously unopen to the public and was considered by many as a secret garden! North Down Borough Council restored this beautiful the Garden and it was officially opened as a visitor attraction in April 2009.

  • The garden won the Royal Horticultural Society Award for Permanent Landscaping in its first year of opening.


Ards and North Down boasts a varied and packed events programme. From festivals and galas, to concerts and regattas. 

To keep up-to-date with all that is going on Visit Ards and North Down.

Destination Strangford Lough

With its picturesque villages, abundant wildlife and spectacular views, Strangford Lough had been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Click on links below to view sections of a documentary film, created from a year-long programme of filming on and around Strangford Lough:

Strangford Lough - Wild, Wild, World

Strangford Lough - Landscapes & Seascapes

Strangford Lough - Outdoors

Strangford Lough - Ancient Treasures

Hospitality & food tourism

The area of Ards and North Down is home to a range of restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels. You can choose from local home-cooked food or cuisine with an international influence. An increasing number of bars and restaurants source their food, beer, cider, gin and whiskey locally - a real treat for locals and visitors alike.

Hotels, B&Bs and guest houses are scattered across the region and range from 5* spa getaways to quaint luxury homes from home. 

Hotels in the Ards and North Down area include:

Ards and North Down enjoys a vast selection of eateries and varied array of local small food producers.  Why not bring your family here and prove it for yourselves?

Moreover, our specialist food trails will provide you with a wonderful experience of top class cuisine whilst allowing you to savour the beauty and tranquillity of Ards and North Down.  You will discover the delights of purchasing the freshest of fish, unique handmade cheeses, delicious fruits and vegetables (including our own Comber potato!), speciality meats such as the world class Finnebrogue venison or duck, award-winning ice cream, or freshly pressed apple juices.  Enjoy the variety of characterful eating places by the sea, in busy market towns, along the Strangford Lough or in charming villages and towns along the coast.  Stay at quaint old inns, family run hotels or a five star spa resort – this area has it all!

To find out more about our local food tourism contact: Conal Stewart 


Ards and North Down Borough is home to two police stations; one juvenile justice centre; five children homes; seven fire stations; two ambulance stations; three RNLI lifeboat stations; nine recycling centres and 49 managed recycling banks.