Wentworth Castle, Baroque Wing

Heritage Open Days in Yorkshire 2021

Studley Royal Deer Park, Fountains Abbey

Yorkshire Heritage Open Days 2021

Heritage Open Days is an annual ten-day celebration of England’s heritage and culture that takes place every September. Thousands of volunteers join over 2,000 local experts and organisations to put on an astonishing number of special events that offer a unique insight into the country’s history.

Unsurprisingly, there are endless Heritage Open Days events in Yorkshire each year, from walking tours around historic sites and iconic city streets to fun family-friendly events which bring the past to life. This year there are also several online offerings for those who would prefer virtual sessions.

One of the most special aspects of the Heritage Open Days festival is that several private buildings with notable architecture, artwork or stories open their doors to the public, offering visitors the chance to see precious historical gems that are usually out of bounds – for a short time only.

With hundreds of Heritage Open Days events happening across Yorkshire between 10th – 19th September 2021, it is hard to choose where to go and what to see. Use this round-up of our favourite events, separated into handy categories, as your guide to Yorkshire’s Heritage Open Days for 2021.


Historic Fossgate, York

Walking Tours

Whether you are a history buff, architecture enthusiast or art lover, there is a walking tour for you. Two of our highlights are the ‘Heritage Plaques of Harrogate’ trails, examining the people who paved the way for this celebrated spa town, and ‘Voicing the Hidden’,a creative street tour through Fossgate and Walmgate in York led by a local poet, a filmmaker, and a historian. Those who like to be active will enjoy the ‘Huddersfield Heritage 5k’, a relaxed guided jog around the city’s most historic buildings which offers insights into the legacy of the influential Ramsden family. A one-mile walking version of this tour is also on offer.


Stained Glass Window, St Martin-on-the-Hill

Not Normally Open

One of the most special aspects of the Heritage Open Days initiative is that some of England’s most treasured old buildings that are usually closed to visitors are opened to the public for the duration of the festival. See exceptional architecture and stained glass at All Souls Church in Halifax, on a guided tour or independent visit. Experience the unique artwork of the Church of St. Martin-on-the-Hill, ‘Scarborough’s Pre-Raphaelite gem’. Hear a potted version of Thundercliffe Grange’s near-1,000-year history whilst sitting by the Russian Bath in the property’s gorgeous 22-acre garden.


Botanical Gardens, Sheffield

Unique Insights

There are many opportunities to get unique insights into some of Yorkshire’s most historical sites. In addition to showcasing remarkable wall paintings that are usually kept hidden from view, there are also recent discoveries to be shared at Beverley Friary, a neighbour of Beverley Minster with a melting pot of different architectural styles. At Chevin Park you can explore the Lost World of the Victorian Asylum whilst admiring this grade II listed building. For the green-fingered or those seeking an outdoor experience with a difference, check out the ‘Apothecary Guided Tour’ at the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield.


Photo by Alana Harris, Unsplash

For Foodies

As part of their Edible England theme, Heritage Open Days 2021 includes a host of mouth-watering food events across the country. Yorkshire has options to suit children and adults alike, from the hands-on family-friendly ‘Tolson Museum Time-Travelling Food Trail’ in Huddersfield which tracks food through the ages to the Heritage Pub Walk in Sheffield. Combine eating with education of the Bridlington Edible History Trail or sit back and stuff yourself silly at the Yorkshire Pudding Festival in Leeds. Leeds is also showcasing historic culinary collections in Leeds Libraries, for those who aren’t feeling quite as peckish.


Studley Royal in Autumn, Fountains Abbey

For Families

A lot of the Heritage Open Days events across Yorkshire are suitable for children, but there are some sessions that were obviously designed with kids in mind and will not fail to enchant and entertain little ones. Our favourite is the Historic Ghost Walk in Wakefield. Fountains Abbey, with its playground, gorgeous grounds, and endless activities, is offering one-off free entry to all visitors. You can even enjoy a screening of Shrek in the sensational gardens at Wentworth Castle which will make the film even more magical.

For more details of what’s on offer, visit the Heritage Open Days website.

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