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Free Days Out For The Family This September ⎸ Heritage Open Days 2023

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture. Running for ten days every September, the festival offers free access to heritage events and activities across England.

Heritage Open Days (HODs) returns this September with thousands of free events and experiences. Brought to you by the National Trust, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers, HODs help bring people together to celebrate their heritage, community and history. The packed programme of more than 5,000 events features everything from historic houses to factories, museums to music halls, formal gardens to graveyards, places, spaces and communities across the country that are once again hosting free events this autumn. Hundreds of activities will adopt this year’s theme, Creativity Unwrapped, sharing England’s colourful history of creativity. The festival will celebrate the experts and enthusiastic amateurs whose passions and skills add something special to our daily lives. Liam Montgomery, Heritage Open Days Marketing & Projects Manager, says: “Whether it’s art, music, writing, or another outlet, creativity moves us and shapes our history and culture. This year, organisers have once again come up trumps and created a stellar programme of events that put the spotlight on the people and places who give England’s heritage the X-factor and inspire festival-goers to engage with thousands of years of creativity. And it is the organisers who make this possible, and whose hard work enables over a million people to engage with heritage, for free, on their doorstep, every September.”

Isle of White Steam Railway During HODs © Isle of Wight Steamway
Isle of White Steam Railway During HODs © Isle of Wight Steamway

The festival features thousands of events and activities across the country, including a wide range of places that usually charge, free sites that put on extra special events for the festival and places that aren't usually open to the public. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic Tyne tunnels, visit the Gothic Temple - a splendid historic folly within the National Trust’s Stowe, and explore that most iconic item of creativity, the television, at the BFI Film & Television Archive. For a tasty, creative fix, head to a gelato flavour exploration in North Shields. Have you ever wondered about the creativity behind a brick? Now you can at Hampshire’s The Brickworks Museum. See where the magic happens and meet the talented team who build incredible jukeboxes at Sound Leisure in West Yorkshire. And there is plenty for the younger generation. Take a ride on an iconic London bus, have a day out at Bradwell Abbey Medieval Family Fun Day, a take a trip through time at Lancashire Police Museum, located in Lancaster Castle’s former prison. New Wave is a series of innovative youth-led events being produced for this year’s Heritage Open Days festival. Sing your heart out at a Shanty Social in Portsmouth, get crafty with a Proggy Pride Party in Sunderland, and discover the amazing and secret history of Oxford's graffiti through the ages in a Hidden Heritage Graffiti Trail.

Tanat Valley Light Railway, Oswestry
Tanat Valley Light Railway, Oswestry © Heritage Open Days / Chris Lacey

Founded in 1994, Heritage Open Days has captured imaginations for almost 30 years. Last year, more than 45,000 organisers and volunteers ran nearly 5,000 events across the country, attracting one million visits. Around one-third of visitors had not visited a heritage site/event in the past year, while 80% of festival-goers said their visit made them more proud of their local area. A visitor from 2022 said, “Such passionate individuals who were generous enough to share their knowledge. Forever grateful for their time and effort. It allowed me to connect with sections of the society that I do not normally interact with within the specific context.”

And organisers see a real benefit: “I feel that Heritage Open Days is really important, both to provide access to less visited/usually closed places and also to bring about more of a diverse audience than usual, opening up places for people who may usually avoid heritage attractions.” Laura Chow, head of charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said, “Once again, Heritage Open Days organisers have come out in force for this fantastic opportunity to explore, celebrate, and enjoy England’s national heritage. It's wonderful that our players are helping to ensure Heritage Open Days events are accessible and free for all. In fact, Postcode Lottery players have now raised over £1.1 billion to support thousands of great causes, including this amazing event and many others run by the National Trust.” Heritage Open Days is brought to you by the National Trust with support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.

For further information and to register for your event, visit

Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries. Other events in the UK are Doors Open Days in Scotland (; Open Doors Days in Wales (; and European Heritage Open Days in Northern Ireland (

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