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Europe & Us

Heritage Open Days is proud to be part of a wider family of European festivals.

European Heritage Days logo

Our festival has its roots in European Heritage Days, a joint incentive by the Council of Europe and the European Commission. Each September, festivals across Europe bring out the bunting to celebrate their nation’s cultural heritage. Although we all have slightly different names, and are run by different organisations, we share the same goal of opening up our community's heritage sites for everyone. In this blog we visit the UK's European Heritage Days festivals and highlight some of exciting events you can take part in this year: 

Scotland: “Doors Open Days”

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Scotland’s “Doors Open Days” is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust. Running from the 12-18th September, the festival will see more than 800 buildings open, generating over 200,000 visits. Here are a few examples of some of the great events opening up in Scotland this year: 

  • Walk through an indoor tropical rainforest, inhabited by Europe's largest exotic butterfly collections, at Scotland's Butterfly & Insect World, Edinburgh.
  • You can share in Britain’s ancient past by exploring Wemyss Ancient Caves. Guided tours will reveal the cave’s prehistoric carvings; some of the earliest art in the whole of Britain.
  • The Port of Inverness has been a major trading post with Europe for centuries. Learn all about this modern day economic hub with records going back to 1249.
  • This year the British Golf Museum, St Andrews, which boasts the largest collection of golf memorabilia in Europe, will have guided tours throughout its open day. 
  • The iconic Mitchell Library, Glasgow, will open its doors for visitors to experience Europe's largest public libraries. Peek behind the scenes and venture into the Jeffrey and Burns Rooms for a unique display of the collection highlights. 

Wales: “Open Doors”  

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"Open Doors" is organised by Cadw. Running throughout the month of September, the festival is your chance to see 300 of Wales’s most precious properties. Here is a taste of the Welsh gems on show this year:

  • Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve Centre offers demonstrations, presentations and guided walks across a marvellous landscape of vast reedbeds and shady woodlands between the Severn Estuary and the River Usk.
  • Caerleon Baths, Amphitheatre and Barracks are the extensive remains of the Roman occupation near Newport. One of the largest and most important Roman military sites in Europe, the fort dates back to 75AD. Take a guided tour of this relic of an imperial history shared across Britain and the continent.
  • Tucked away in Cardiff, the Byzantine style St Nicholas' Greek Orthodox Church is testament to Wale's distant European connections. Come along on a guided tour of the church’s rich and beautiful interior built in 1906.
  • The massive Conwy Castle dates back to 1283 and was built by Edward I to dominate the region with absolute military power.

 Northern Ireland: “European Heritage Open Days”

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 Northern Ireland’s “European Heritage Open Days” is organised by the Department for Communities. With over 340 events running from 10-11th of September, there is so much to discover and enjoy.

  • For more than 800 years Carrickfergus Castle has been an imposing monument atop the town. The Norman castle has been besieged in turn by the Scots, Irish, English and French. Playing an important military role right up until 1928, it remains one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland.
  • This year, Belfast’s majestic Grand Opera House opens its doors to public. The beautiful venue has stood for over 115 years and played host to some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment.
  • The Rocky Ramble on Gortmaconnell promises the chance to experience Northern Ireland's beautiful untamed landscape.
  • On the south-east fringes of the sperrin mountains,  Beaghmore Stone Circles, Carns and Alignments is a series of prehistoric Bronze Age stone monuments. Take the trip to look around this mysterious site, stretching back millennia into the nation’s past.
  • Enjoy a recreation of Celtic life in the Iron Age at Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh.

England: "Heritage Open Days"

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This year Heritage Open Days is celebrating England's long and formative relationship with our European neighbours. Our range of Europe & Us events seek to highlight our connections to other European cultures which can be found at home, right on our doorsteps.

Discover more...