Hidden Treasures of Northern Ireland. FREE to explore.
Every September, European Heritage Open Days give local tourists and international visitors to Northern Ireland an opportunity to discover new places, unearth hidden heritage, enjoy tourist attractions and destinations, and unlock Northern Ireland’s cultural doorways.
Hundreds of venues right across Northern Ireland offer travellers and families a variety of things to do and places to see…
And from the cottage of a famous County Tyrone novelist to Ulster’s oldest hydro-electric station in County Londonderry, there is something for everyone, not forgetting visitors to our cities of Belfast, Lisburn, Armagh, Newry and Derry/Londonderry.
Since they began in 1991, European Heritage Open Days have become a must in the tourist calendar, opening up events and historic buildings free of charge, or at a reduced rate, for visitors to Europe.
Every September, the 50 signatory States to the European Cultural Convention take part, putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public. The cultural events highlight local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art, but the broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony.
In the UK, Heritage Open Days were established in 1994 with five open day schemes running each September: Heritage Open Days in England; Open House London; Scotland’s Doors Open Days; and Open Doors in Wales.
In Northern Ireland, European Heritage Open Days are organised locally by Discover Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other partners, and are now in their fourth year with new attractions added to the portfolio each year.
Families and children enjoy the educational trails at the Hill of the O’Neill and the heat and dirt of Patterson’s Spade Mill; while historians may prefer many of the museums or unusual examples of local architecture.
Some Northern Ireland castles open under the scheme include the plantation Monea Castle and medieval Kilclief, while ecclesiastical buildings include a Greek revival church at Portaferry and the stunning St Columb’s Cathedral.
Happy Heritage Hunting!