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Heritage Open Days

England's history, architecture and culture is celebrated when buildings of every age, style and function open their doors for free for the annual Heritage Open Days. This year's event runs from Friday 11 September to Sunday 20 September 2020. Due to current restrictions, some venues are offering virtual tours this year. If you are visiting a venue remember to observe the Government guidance on social distancing.

This is a national event that celebrates England's fantastic architectural and cultural sites.

Visit Heritage Open Days for more information.

Dates of the event

The event runs every September. This year's dates are Friday 11 September  to Sunday 20 September.

This year, a number of attractions are offering virtual tours and so you can steep yourself in heritage and culture from the comfort of your front room. Discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture:

  • Free entry to venues that usually charge
  • Tours that give glimpses into hidden places- many of which are virtual this year
  • Walks through our historic landscape - with evidence of settlement from pre-history to the modern day
  • Churches - from Saxon to Medieval to Victorian in County Durham
  • Talk to knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who guide you round the venues

Here is a full list of attractions taking place: 

Alington House Community Association

4 North Bailey, DH1 3ET.

Explore the history of this seventeenth century house. 

Fridays 11 and 18 September, 10.00am to 1.00pm. No booking required.

Durham Cathedral

The College, DH1 3EH.

Daily live streams showing life behind the scenes can be viewed at Durham Cathedral on Facebook.

Throughout the festival daily, 3.00pm. No booking required.

Durham Market Hall

Durham Market Place, DH1 3NJ.

Follow a self-guided tour of this city centre building with a fascinating past.

11 to 19 September (excluding 13 September), 11.00am. No booking required but one person per tour maximum.

Durham School and Chapel 

Durham, DH1 4SZ.

A virtual tour of one of the country's oldest schools.

No booking required. Log on and take the tour anytime at Durham School Virtual Tour.

Durham Town Hall

Market Place, DH1 3NJ.

Visit this wonderful building which has been in the heart of the city since the fourteenth century. Free, new exhibitions as part of festival. See Durham Town Hall for information about the building.

11 to 19 September (excluding 14 and 15 September), 10.00am to 3.00pm. No booking required.

Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway

Virtual talk of the Hackworth archive.

18 September, 11.00am to 11.45am. Booking required by 14 September by calling 01833 627712 or email

Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and Etherley Incline Witton Colliery Group

Etherley, DL14 0HH.

Three mile history walk from Phoenix Row.

Sunday 13 September, 10.15am. Booking required by calling 01833 627712 or email

Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and Brussleton Incline Group

Locomotion, Shildon, DL4 2RE.

A guided walk starting at the museum.

20 September, 10.15am. Booking required by calling 01833 627712 or email

Thorpe Light Railway

Whorlton, DL12 8XD.

An opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of Thorpe Light Railway and hear about future plans.

No booking required.

Saturday 19 September: 12.30pm to 3.00pm.

Hardwick Park

Sedgefield TS21 2DN.

Take a walk around this restored 18th century parkland. See Hardwick Park for information about the park.

No booking required.

St Helen's Church, St Helen Auckland 

Bishop Auckland, DL14 9EN.

Take a guided tour of this medieval church C1120.

Sunday 13 September, 11.00am to 3.00pm and Saturday 19 September, 10.00am to 3.00pm. No booking required.

Virtual tour of Bishop Auckland

Take a virtual tour of Bishop Auckland at Historic England: Bishop Auckland Virtual Tour, Any time during the festival, no need to book.

100 years of the Durham Coast

Seaham, SR7 7EE.

Watch a video of 100 years of this beautiful coastline at A Century of Change on the Durham Coast on Youtube.

St Mary The Virgin, Easington

Easington, SR8 3FB.

A tour of this twelfth century church with Saxon origins.

Saturdays 12 and 19 September, 11.00am to 1.00pm. No booking required. 

Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre

DH6 3JY.

A temporary VE Day celebration of the villages contribution to war.

17 to 19 September, 10.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

How to include your venue or event

We welcome new venues and events. If you, your organisation or community group would like to take part, or if you would like some more information, then please contact us.

Contact us
Heritage Open Days
03000 267 133
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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