25 NEW Highlights

It's our silver anniversary - a sparkling milestone! In true HODs style we're celebrating both the old and the new. Here are 25 highlights opening up for the festival for the first time. From behind-the-scenes access of usually closed sites to fun activities for the family, there's an exciting range of events to choose from, whatever part of the country you're in.

© Image credits: The Hon. Nicholas Howard, WWT Slimbridge, National Trust, Bombay Sapphire, National Maritime Museum Greenwich - Join in the celebrations with these 25 great new events!

Head Up North

Seek some serenity at Castle Howard's Mausoleum © Joe Cornish

Explore the 18th-century landscape at Castle Howard, filled with statues, follies and monuments, with a special opportunity to visit the Mausoleum. Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, this is a rare chance for the public to see this unique structure and enter the family crypt.

Join a short meditation session with the resident teacher at this Buddhist Centre. Visitors can also take a tour of the building, and meet members of the Kirklees Buddhist community who will be on hand to answer any questions.

Wander and wonder at both the spectacular Wentworth family sites © Wentworth Woodhouse

Visit this Grade I listed stately home, and admire the longest country house façade in the country. Vistors can choose between a tour of the formal state rooms, or seeing the private family quarters, while learning about the stories from the building’s past.

Newly reopened as a National Trust site, visitors can explore centuries of history in this Grade I listed landscape, including 63 acres of formal gardens, 18th century 'Union Jack' garden, restored Victorian conservatory and 'ancient' hill-top folly Stainborough Castle.

Discover hidden histories at King's Manor © University of York

Discover the hidden histories of this medieval building. Run as the University of York’s Archaeology department, expert-led tours will take visitors to areas not normally open, and reveal the building’s past uses as the abbot's lodgings and headquarters of the Council of the North.

Take a tour of one of the few remaining Brutalist offices in Newcastle. Now run as a workspace for creative industries, visitors to the 1971 building will get a chance to meet people who work there, and can also hear a talk, Concrete Dreams, to learn more about the architecture.

Curious about conservation? Meet the experts at the University of Lincoln

Travel East

Find out more about how the area’s historic collections are cared for at the largest centre for conservation and restoration study in the UK. Visitors can take a tour of the laboratories, which have been at the edge of groundbreaking research with over 40 years’ experience.

See the results of recent refurbishments to this 1920s fire station. Returning much of the building to its original layout, the design once included housing and even a dance floor. Visitors can also learn about 90 years of firefighting from those who have worked to protect the city.

Be dazzled by the dahlias at Angelsey Abbey © National Trust

See the House and grounds transformed with colourful pop-up dahlia installations, in an event keen gardeners won’t want to miss. Visitors to Dazzling Dahlias will be surprised by artistic cut flower art, complimenting the gardens, which this year feature over 80 varieties of this floristry favourite.

Visit the library for a chance to ‘borrow’ a living book. At this unique library, books will be embodied by people who have worked in Lowestoft’s former industries, from the Co-op factory to the Coachworks. Visitors will have a conversation to hear their stories and ask questions.

Pop Down South

Take time for a tipple at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Explore this famous gin’s distillery, with an immersive audio and sensory tour! Visitors will see the mix of Victorian architecture and modern glasshouses, sample ten exotic minerals which flavour the drink, and try a cocktail tailored to their personal taste profile in the Botanical Dry Room.

Learn about aviation history through the story of Heathrow Airport. Led by the university’s archivist, visitors will hear a short talk about one of the world’s busiest airports, before touring the archive with over 850 items of memorabilia, from photographs, to uniforms and even souvenirs.

Get crafty in Ditchling © Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Family-friendly, hands-on, crafty activities are the order of the day in Ditchling! There will also be demonstrations by leading craftspeople, as well as a new Women’s Work exhibition celebrating women who turned their creativity into businesses between the World Wars.

Journey through London’s intriguing sexual history. Led by the museum’s cloaked Keeper, visitors will discover tales of forgotten heroes, moments and places through 15 curious artefacts from pottery to graffiti, curated to convey a renewed interest in identity and sexual freedom.

Discover a world class collection © National Maritime Museum

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's storage collection, which until recently has rarely seen by the public since locating to the site in the 1970s. Curated by local residents, visitors will also get a unique interpretation of the items, based on the heritage stories of their communities.

Join a guided tour of this private home; a rare example of a Tudor oak framed farmhouse, not normally open to the public. Once owned by the city’s Mayor, and later by Jane Austen’s brother, visitors will discover its fascinating history as one of the oldest dwellings in Winchester.

Find a whole new perspective on the school yard © Eton College

Join a special Curators’ Choice Trail of objects from the school’s archives and collections of art, natural history and antiquities, with a fun extra trail and art activities for children. Visitors can also see School Yard, and enjoy the Tower Gallery exhibition, which is normally by appointment only.

Visit this architectural gem in the centre of Bournemouth. A place of Jewish worship for over 100 years, visitors can admire the building’s Art Nouveau and Moorish Revival style, square domed cupola and stained glass on a guided tour of the Prayer Hall.

Call in at the home of a wildlife pioneer © WWT Slimbridge

Explore the 1950s home of environmental conservation campaigner, Sir Peter Scott, as once visited by the Queen. Learn about his life and work, and the People Power he harnessed in founding the local Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust as well as the World Wildlife Fund.

See this newly-restored manor house, normally only open as a private holiday rental. Visitors will also learn about the remarkable artistic family who lived there in the 20th century, the Spencer-Watsons, whose talents included portrait painting, sculpting, dance and mime.

Find fun for all the family (especially for the brave!) at this castle © Dudley Zoological Gardens

Go West

Head to Dudley Castle, for a whole afternoon of fun. Visitors can follow a trail around the castle or join a tour of the ruins, and even go ghost-spotting on a special walk! While the kids will love finding out about the gruesome past with a horrible history session and meeting birds of prey.

Look around this abandoned theatre, with the first chance for the public to see the interior since closing in 1995. On a guided tour, visitors will get a hard hat view of the ground floor, and learn about community plans to restore the building as a multi-purpose entertainment space.

*Update 16th September: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event no longer includes interior access*

Take a look on the bright side at Salford Road Solar Farm

See how sunlight is converted into electricity! Led by experts from the Recycle for Greater Manchester team, visitors on a tour of the solar farm will learn how the panels work, why they are connected to waste disposal, and what happens in the adjacent composting facility.

Get back to nature at this 5-acre wildlife reserve! Visitors can go on a tour of the protected landscape, and take part in a range of family-friendly activities, including making bird feeders, and learning about local species such as the great crested newt, bees, moths, hedgehogs and bats.

Enjoy a backstage pass at the New Vic

Learn all the secrets of the New Vic Theatre on a backstage tour of the props and costume stores! Greeted by volunteers from the Youth Theatre, visitors can also see inside the control box, take part in drama workshops, try on costumes and see stage management demonstrations.

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