Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,000 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE.
There are lots of businesses and attractions taking part in Buckinghamshire and The Chilterns, so let’s take a look!
Over Heritage Weekend 13-15th September, Aylesbury’s newest festival will be taking place. Waterside Festival returns for a second year on Saturday 14th September from 11am to 5:30pm. This fantastic canal festival will feature a mix of Aylesbury’s canal heritage, alongside a more modern mix of street food stalls, craft exhibits and both water and land based activities for everyone to enjoy.
While visiting the Waterside Festival, there will be plenty of Heritage Events to join in with, including a guided walk along Aylesbury’s Canal. This walk is led by the Aylesbury Society and includes historic facts and anecdotes around The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The guided walk starts at 3pm on Saturday 14th September.
Backstage Tour of Waterside Theatre
You can also take a backstage tour of the Waterside Theatre which is just next door to the Waterside Festival and canal basin. You’ll get an insight into what it feels like to stand on stage, see behind the scenes and enjoy the beautiful architecture of this landmark venue. Tours are running both on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September from 10.30.am.
Matters of Life and Death
Also on Saturday 14th September, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Alesbury will be opening their doors to help you explore family and local history. At the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies they will have a Family History Help Desk and access to family history websites; pop-up refreshments and their Matters of Life and Death exhibition. Open from 9.30 – 15.30.
On Sunday 22nd September from 10am to 5pm, you’ll be able to explore the 250 acres of landscape gardens at Stowe National Trust, as well as visit The Gothic Temple – normally an exclusive holiday cottage for The Landmark Trust and take a taster tour of Stowe House.
On Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th September from 10am to 5pm, Cliveden National Trust are opening their doors for Heritage Open Days. You can discover the extensive gardens which include a walk by the river or exploring the maze plus younger visitors can enjoy the Storybook Pay Den which encourages their imaginations to run wild! There is also a chance to have a tour of the house while you are here.
Roald Dahl Day Celebrations
Celebrate Roald Dahl’s Birthday on Saturday 14th September where The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden will be throwing him a special party! Enjoy storytelling, talks, trails and craft activities with a James and the Giant Peach twist. There are plenty of events and activities to get involved with from 11am to 5pm, pop along and see for yourself!
Award Winning Heritage Steam Train
Ride on a heritage steam train at Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway. Board the train at Chinnor or Princes Risborough Station and enjoy a journey back and forth on the line on their unique vintage steam train. There are a variety of events happening during Heritage Open Days including a Senior Special, Real Ale and Steam Trip and The Great St. Trinians Treasure Hunt. Find out more via our What’s On section or on their website!
Milton Keynes Heritage
Milton Keynes is throwing open its doors with more events than ever before for this year’s Heritage Open Days. Taking place over ten days from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd September, there is something for everyone as the city celebrates its fascinating and exciting heritage with 150 workshops, craft events, open days, exhibitions, performances and film screenings – all completely free to attend.
Key attractions opening their doors for free include Milton Keynes Museum, Stadium MK, Great Linford Manor Park, Bletchley Park (limited tickets, booking essential), MK Arts Centre, Milton Keynes Theatre, Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney and in the wider area Stowe Gardens, Claydon House, and The Old Gaol in Buckingham.
Not normally open to the public: Tour MK Magistrates’ Court with working magistrates; peer inside the intriguing world of the Freemasons at Freemason’s Lodge in Wolverton; find out more about how black sack waste is sustainably dealt with at the new Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park and take a backstage tour of The Stables Theatre in Wavendon.
Get crafty! MK Arts Centre is hosting a day of craft workshops in their studios and art room; you can get a Georgian makeover at MK Central Library and have fun making your own fan and mask; make your own space-themed creation at Festive Road in Kiln Farm, where amazing things are created with scrap metal.
Get out and about: take a walking tour of Wolverton’s magical Secret Garden; discover the flora and fauna of Shenley Wood and its connection to the beautiful ancient Westbury Arts Centre; explore the Gyosei and ROCLA art trails; tour some of the Heritage Open Day sites on a guided family bike ride.
For more information and events head to The Heritage Open Days website.