Get involved as Northern Ireland celebrates European Heritage Open Days 2018

Date published: 13 August 2018

Heritage and history will be brought to life at this year’s European Heritage Open Days across Norther Ireland.

With over 300 venues taking part, this is one of Northern Ireland’s largest free events open to the public. It will take place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September. 

It is a celebration and appreciation of our rich and diverse culture and heritage where the ‘doors will open’ to historic buildings and monuments, some of which open to the public for the first time.

Adults and children will be entertained with living history, performances, arts and crafts and much more. The theme this year is ‘The Art of Sharing,’ meaning that venues will have the opportunity to share heritage stories of their buildings and their connections to locations and people through talks, tours, exhibitions, craft, art and performance or screen.

European Heritage Open Days, now in their 21st year, are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural events shared throughout Europe, and in Northern Ireland their popularity has continued to increase over the last few years.

This year’s event was launched at the Middle Church (c.1668) Ballinderry.  Speaking at the launch, the Director of Historic Environment Division at the Department for Communities, Iain Greenway said;

“Our aim is to help communities to understand and realise the value of our historic environment. European Heritage Open Days are a key opportunity for everyone to do this, whether by visiting a new place or taking part in a new activity.

“This is particularly relevant in this European Year of Cultural Heritage which has a theme of sharing heritage.  That heritage is shaped by history and people; its authenticity is derived through the connections with communities. It delivers prosperity, progress and personality. Let’s go exploring and get involved on 8 and 9 September!”

Rosemarie McHugh, Director of Product Development, Tourism NI commented,

“We know our visitors are interested in exploring Northern Ireland’s rich and diverse culture and heritage. With free access to over 300 properties and events, European Heritage Open Days offers a fantastic opportunity to both visitors and locals alike to sample the breadth and depth of what is available.

“Tourism NI is delighted to be working closely with Department for Communities Historic Environment Division on this and other initiatives to unlock the potential of our heritage.”

Brochures are available at tourist information centres, libraries and are available to download at

Whilst all events are free some require pre-booking. To avoid disappointment check out or @ehodni on Twitter.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Some highlights for European Heritage Open Days 208 include:

Bun na Margaí Festival of Heritage, Ballycastle
Experience the golden stones and stories of Bun na Margaí Friary through expert guided tours and lectures. Find out about Bun na Margaí’s connections with the Lord of the Isles and the Kingdom of Dalriada. See and hear the stories of the Friary through Gaelic clan warfare and World War, or discover the Franciscan Mission to western Scotland and the links with the Spanish Armada.

Knockbraken Healthcare Park, Belfast
A guided tour of selected buildings of the former Purdysburn Villa Colony, a former 'asylum' for mentally ill patients built between 1902 and 1913.  Purdysburn was laid out as a suburban style settlement in an innovative design that was based on German colony asylums of the late nineteenth century.  The tour will consider how the buildings were constructed to maximise patient health.  Some of the site is still in use and patient privacy must be respected at all times.

Armagh Courthouse, Armagh
The Courthouse was designed by local architect Francis Johnston in 1809 and is still in use as a Courthouse today. The building, which is a major focus on The Mall, is one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the area. Court staff will be available to provide visitors with guided tours of the building including areas not normally open to the public.

Springhill, Moneymore
Pretty 17th-century 'Plantation' home with a significant costume collection. Experience the beguiling spirit of this inimitable 17th-century 'Plantation' home, with its walled gardens and parkland, full of tempting waymarked paths. There are ten generations of Lenox-Conyngham family tales to enthrall you, as well as numerous portraits and much furniture to admire and not forgetting Ireland's best-documented ghost: Olivia. The old laundry houses the celebrated Costume Collection, which features some fine 18th to 20th-century pieces that highlight its great charm and enthralling past. 

Dark Skies event: Magical Mystery Tour, Enniskillen
Magical mystery tour! An astronomical guide tour of the skies from a local location with live atmospheric music. Meet at Enniskillen Castle 10.00 pm. Transport provided. Appropriate footwear & clothing for outdoors. Return by midnight/ 12:30am approximately.

Gray’s Printing Press, Strabane
18th-century printing press. Take a step back in time and discover a treasure trove of ink, galleys and presses hidden behind an 18th-century shop front in the heart of Strabane, once the famous printing town of Ulster. Gray’s Printing Press is now being staffed with local volunteers who have gained expert knowledge about the Press. Relax and unwind in the beautiful surroundings with afternoon tea or a delicious hot meal in Grays Tea Room.


  1. For updates and changes follow European Heritage Open Days on Facebook and @ehodni on Twitter.
  2. For media enquiries or images please contact the DfC Press Office on 028 90823532 or out of office hours contact the duty press officer on pager 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

Share this page

Back to top