One festival. Two weekends. Hundreds of extraordinary women

One festival. Two weekends. Hundreds of extraordinary women

Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 and has grown to be England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE.

This year and for the first time in its 24-year history, Heritage Open Days will take place over two consecutive weekends: 6th-9th and 13th-16th September and in recognition of the centenary of the Universal Suffrage Act, this year will also see hundreds of events taking place on the theme of ‘Extraordinary Women’ – focusing on both well-known and less celebrated women.

Expanding and diversifying from the 701 events at its launch to over 5,000 today, Heritage Open Days continues to flourish with more events every year, reflecting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of England and its communities. Spanning the public, private and voluntary sectors, the festival is a unique and powerful partnership. Working with organisations and individuals across England, Heritage Open Days is our national local festival. There are always new stories to tell and new places to open. It’s a chance for communities nationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep.

Places to visit range from historic buildings, sites of special industrial interest, gardens, museums, archives, waterways, theatres and the countryside. There’s something to appeal to all ages.

Heritage Open Days is also launching a second Unsung Stories project, following on from the critically acclaimed LGBTQ events last year. “Every year, Heritage Open Days becomes a more diverse and fascinating festival,” says patron, Loyd Grossman. “It’s wonderful that, thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are able to continue the Unsung Stories project, which actively sources and shares stories of individuals and events that conventional histories may have overlooked. And, of course, we continue to celebrate all aspects of local heritage, with thousands of other walks, talks, openings and events – all of them FREE!”

Richard Hughes from the Norwich Assembly House - Credit Nick Butcher

Richard Hughes from the Norwich Assembly House

There are some new venues for 2018, so if you fancy seeing a replica of George Washington’s garden in Bath; discover the secrets of HS2 in Euston; take a walk on the weird side in Norwich; see the pre-Raphelite works of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford in Northumberland; learn about the Women’s Social and Political Union at the Dutch House in Dorking; get a ‘behind the scenes’ look into the operation of a steam locomotive at The National Railway Museum at Shildon; or glimpse a lock-up also used to house cholera victims and Irish immigrant families in Liverpool, then now’s your chance.

To search for what’s on near you and for full details of all venues and opening times, please go to:

There’s no excuse for not exploring our unique, shared history and heritage.