Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 European Heritage Open Days - 13/14 Sep - free access to hundreds of NI buildings #ehodni

This weekend over 400 properties across Northern Ireland will open up to the public – for free – as part of European Heritage Open Days. The full programme (and list of amendments and corrections to the printed brochure) can be found on the Discover Northern Ireland website.

I’ve consistently blogged about EHOD in previous years, and many of the venues and attractions listed in old posts are open again this year. So it’s worth a peruse of the old posts to find some gems.


Currently celebrating 125th year of operation, the tour around Belfast Central Library has long remained unticked on my EHOD to do list. Tours 10.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday.

Over the weekend, the sound of church organ recitals will fill various St Peter’s Cathedral (Saturday and Sunday, 8.30am-7pm), May Street Presbyterian (Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 12.30pm-4pm) and Townsend Street Presbyterian (Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 2pm-6pm).

The Masonic Hall in Arthur Square (better known as Cornmarket) has been refurbished and offers fantastic rooftop views across Belfast city centre as well as an insight into a somewhat mysterious organisation. Open on Saturday from 10am-4pm with a tour at 11am.

Templemore Baths (at the top of Templemore Avenue) are open on Saturday from 11am-3pm with tours of the community trust-maintained baths on the hour and a short documentary by Lorna Milligan How far can you Swim, Son? showing every ten minutes between 1pm and 3pm.

While Sunday’s Art Deco tour in Belfast is fully booked, another free tour has been arranged for Sunday 21 at 10.30am – you can register through PLACE. Spaces are still available on tours looking at the architecture of Donegall Square, city centre churches, and an urban photo walk. More details and booking at PLACE.

Twenty minute tours around Belfast Waterfront Hall will take place on the hour between 10am and 6pm on Saturday,

If you’ve never visited Sinclair Seaman’s Presbyterian Church (tucked in beside the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office on Corporation Street) it’s well worth a trip to see the novel pulpit and naval artefacts throughout the building. Open on Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm with tours subject to demand.

If you book you can join free tours of the Grand Opera House on Saturday and Sunday at 10am, 11am and noon. The Ulster Hall is also open for guided tours on Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 10am-noon.


Hilden Brewery is running a free tour around Ireland’s oldest independent brewery at noon on Saturday and Sunday. [Brings back memories of our class visit in P7 when we came away from the brewery with school blazer pockets full of hops to chew on for the next month!]

The R-Space Gallery (32 Castle Street) in Lisburn was once the Cathedral Rectory and is now a thriving visual arts and crafts space. Open on Saturday between noon and 5pm, hard hat tours are available and talks at 2pm and 4pm.


The Victorian country house Drumalis (just outside Larne on the Glenarm Road) is open with free tours on Saturday afternoon (noon-4pm) and afternoon tea is available to purchase.

The Moravian Church at Gracehill (outside Ballymena) opened in 1765 and is running tours on the hour on Saturday (open 12.30pm-5pm). The nearby Gracehill Old School is also open on Saturday 12.30pm-5pm with a living history exhibition running throughout the afternoon.

Star shows at the Armagh Planetarium are free on Saturday, though you need to book. Open between 10am and 5pm.

A Cold War bunker buried 15 feet under a field on the outskirts of Portadown will be open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday (11am-5pm). FULLY BOOKED

There are countless other venues open to potter around or more formally tour across Northern Ireland with a strong showing up in Derry, including a guided urban walk around the city centre (booking required, but places still available).

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