European Heritage Open Days

Each year hundreds of properties open their doors with many hosting free events across Northern Ireland as part of European Heritage Open Days (EHOD).

This year EHOD takes place on 12 and 13 September and the 2020 theme is 'Heritage and Education'. Take the opportunity to explore the tangible and intangible elements of heritage and education and learn about their history and architecture.

Choose from a programme of over 300 FREE events suitable for the whole family.

Opening for EHOD for the first time?

Do you own or manage a heritage property or landmark? Why not open your property for the weekend of EHOD and showcase the very best that Northern Ireland heritage has to offer?  

EHOD is a great opportunity to let the public see behind closed doors. Heritage is key to our identity and sharing our history and culture can be rewarding.

Be part of EHOD 2020 and get involved in the many events hosted in a wide variety of venues across Northern Ireland.

Reasons to open for EHOD 2020:

  • share important local heritage
  • contribute to heritage protection for the enjoyment of future generations
  • achieve greater publicity for your place, building or organisation
  • garner the interest of new audiences
  • develop and strengthen connections in your community
  • work with new volunteers and supporters
  • trial new experiences without the pressure of a paying audience
  • celebrate a special occasion e.g. an anniversary or fulfil a condition of a grant

Offering activities or events for EHOD

EHOD 2020 is an opportunity for you to host a range of activities and events and to promote your property.

Events can cover all areas of interest including Archaeology, Archives, Coastal & Marine, Folklore (Music/Dance/Storytelling/Poetry), Forests & Woodlands, Genealogy, Geology, Historic Buildings, Gardens & Parks, Industrial Heritage, Inland Waterways, Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands, Landscapes, Local History, Military, Museums, Galleries and Historic Collections,  Transport, Walled Towns, Wildlife and more.

Diversity is what makes European Heritage Open Days fresh and exciting year on year. An event or activity doesn’t have to be a big affair and could include:

  • tours
  • exploring arts and crafts
  • traditional skills demonstrations and workshops
  • exhibitions
  • photographic and film archive
  • living history (costumed characters/guides, re-enactments or displays)
  • specialist talks
  • folklore and performance – music / dance / storytelling / poetry
  • treasure hunts and trails
  • walking / cycling / coach or boat tours
  • behind the scenes experiences
  • village festivals

The EHOD team will publish details on all events/activities on the DiscoverNI website and if you sign up to take part as an EHOD Opener, you will be provided with brochures and posters in advance. The EHOD social media channels will also be used to promote your events.

The EHOD team work with local councils, organisations and individuals to improve the programme every year and to increase numbers participating and visiting.

DfC Historic Environment can provide insurance where required for events.

Things to consider

  • Do something different 
    Think about what you could do differently and make sure you list the details when registering online so it gets listed in publicity material.
  • Think carefully about opening times
    Allow your visitors to plan how they enjoy their time out with family and friends.
  • Consider local people
    Is there a local artist or architect who you could approach to give a talk? Would a craftsperson be willing to come along and show their work?
  • Partner and coordinate 
    Partner with someone else in your local area to offer a joined experience.
  • Social enterprise
    You could provide refreshments at a small charge, sell plants, books, crafts or home produce, with the funds raised going to a good cause. 
  • Timing is everything
    If you are offering tours, make sure you know how long it will take to complete a ‘circuit’. Have a trial run and factor in time to answer questions. If you say your walk or tour takes 30 minutes, make sure it really does so that visitors can plan their day and aren’t trying to break away from the group early.

Latest Information

European Heritage Open Days is an important weekend in the Heritage calendar when we celebrate and share our rich heritage. In these strange times connecting community and heritage feels more important than ever.

As your health and well-being is our priority and in view of the current situation caused by COVID -19 pandemic the Department for Communities is considering what the best approach to European Heritage Open Days might be in line with current public health guidance and advice.

We will continue to promote the theme for EHOD 2020 and registration remains open however we will not produce any guidance on event organisation until it is appropriate to do so.

We will continue to provide updates on a regular basis. As always your EHOD team are here to support you so do get in touch, with any queries.

Check this page regularly to keep up to date with EHOD 2020, or follow us on social media for the latest information:

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