Heritage Open Days: 10-19 Sept. 2021 - what did you discover?!

Discover Creativity: 10 Events That May Surprise You

From acrobats and inflatables in churches, to mechanical elephants and magic mirrors, heritage is not always what you think. The festival is full of incredible sites opening to demonstrate their innovation in arts and entertainment. Here are a small selection to spark your imagination...

Left Bank – Leeds

Every church you visit might look a little different from the one before, but it’s unlikely you’ve ever been in one looking quite like this. This Grade II* listed former church building in Leeds is now home to one of the city’s most innovative arts venues, Left Bank. In the past, they’ve showcased live music and giant dragon sculptures for HODs, yet this year they’ve taken it even bigger with INF23, an epic exhibition by Michael Shaw. Come to see how his giant neon inflatable installation weaves through the building and responds to the venue’s classic architecture.

Adam Aaronson Glass Studio – Guildford

There are so many incredible art exhibitions opening for the festival, though here’s one that’s a little more unique. Adam Aaronson, ‘one of the UK’s leading glass artists’, is inviting visitors to check out his studio in Guildford. You’ll have the rare chance to see a glass-blowing demonstration, try it out yourself in a taster session led by the artist, and browse the gallery for a look at some of his creations.

Go behind the scenes at the BBC in Hull © Michael Taylor

BBC Tours – Hull

Curious to find out how a programme transforms from a concept to the show you tune in to every day? The BBC’s regional headquarters in Hull are giving you the chance to see how everything works inside the studios of the UK’s most iconic broadcaster, a company that’s been leading innovation in television since the 1920s. You can take a tour of the facilities, where you’ll learn how TV & radio programmes are made, and even get the amazing opportunity to see a radio show being broadcast live.

Circomedia – Bristol

For another transformed church space, Circomedia in Bristol are ready to prove how you don’t need a tent or a stage for a circus – in fact, a former church may look even better. Visit their open house during the festival to see how the acrobatic performance has been designed to pair with the space – imagine acrobats in front of stained glass windows – and try your hand at juggling or tight-wire walking during their workshops.

Storyhouse Tours – Chester

The Storyhouse in Chester is impressive enough for its history as a former art deco Odeon cinema, built in 1936. Yet after restoration and renovations, it’s become an award winning modern arts centre. It now has even larger cultural importance as a creative hub for the city – and it’s physically larger too, since it’s been extended. Visit and discover in person why adding more space was necessary; on a tour of the building you’ll find a theatre, cinema AND library, as well as everything else the building has to offer.

Meet Harminder the mechanical elephant © Festive Road

Dancing Maharajas with Festive Road – Milton Keynes

A creative fusion of art, engineering and Indian culture can be found in Milton Keynes, in a performance filled with dancing, music, and - for an extra layer of spectacular innovation - a life size pedal powered elephant! The exciting outdoor demonstration will be by British born Asian artists from migrant backgrounds taking inspiration from Northern India, as they present their own interpretation of traditional Bhangra Folk dance and music. If you’re then itching to have a go, you’ll be able to learn some of the dance steps, try out a little drumming, and meet Harminder the mechanical elephant.

Ipswich Art Gallery

For more innovation in mechanical art, the Marvellous Machines exhibition at Ipswich Art Gallery is ideal. During the festival they will be host to the Cabaret Mechanical theatre’s collection of automated storytelling contraptions. The quirky machines combine art with the spectacle of the mechanical engineering as a creative and innovative way to tell stories.

See what you can discover at the Secret Garden

Secret Garden – Brighton & Hove

If you like your art paired with nature, the Secret Garden in Brighton & Hove is the perfect place for you to visit. It’s the only garden in the city where you can find major outdoor works of sculpture in a secure setting. For HODs, they’re offering the chance to see an exhibition by internationally acclaimed sculptor William Pye, which is reopening especially for the festival by popular demand, after an initial run earlier this year. The garden makes a stunning backdrop for the unique sculptures, steel and bronze pieces designed for moving water, that were carefully chosen to suit this location.

RSC – Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon was once the home of one of the biggest innovators in global theatre to date, William Shakespeare, and this year the town is celebrating 100 years of local theatre-making. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will be opening their theatre during the festival to give people the chance to see how they’re continuing this innovation in their performances. On display will be costumes and props from the archives, as well as a rare copy of the playwright’s first Folio. For more hands-on activities, interactive exhibits include the Magic Costumes Mirror where you can try on virtual costumes, and the chance to play Hamlet alongside the current actor Ewart James Walters - using state of the art gaming technology.

Royalty Cinema & Wurlitzer Organ – Cumbria

Experience cinema as it was in the 1920s - accompanied by a traditional Wurlitzer organ

If you’re a film fan, this cinema in Cumbria will transport you back to the days of silent films in the 1920s. The Royalty Cinema is one of the few remaining silent movie cinemas, especially as it’s complete with a Wurlitzer Organ – which was the essential instrument when accompanying the movies with music and sound effects. You can experience this for yourself at their event, where they will be screening a selection of silent films accompanied by the organ, exactly how they were originally intended to be seen.

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