Members of the public are being encouraged to explore dozens of cultural attractions in County Durham free of charge this month.

This year’s programme of Heritage Open Day events runs from Friday 9 September to Sunday 18 September, with cultural venues and heritage sites across the county taking part.

Durham Masonic Hall, Crook Hall Gardens and Killhope Lead Mining Museum are just some of the sites offering a sneak peek across the 10 days.

Heritage Open Days offer free entry to venues that usually charge as well as tours that give glimpses into usually hidden places. Visitors can go on walks through the county’s historic landscape.

Many churches, from Saxon to Medieval to Victorian, also open their doors. It gives those interested a chance to talk to knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who guide them around the venues.

Walled Garden at Auckland Castle

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “As a county we are famed for our diverse and varied cultural offering and nothing showcases this better than Heritage Open Days. From historic churches and landmarks to beautiful scenery, there is plenty to discover for people of all ages.

“There is an extensive programme of events taking place across the 10 days so please have a look and see which attractions you’d like to visit.”

A full list of events is available online. Highlights this year include:

  • Get a fascinating insight into Durham Masonic Hall. Guided tours of the hall are taking place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September. Visit for details on how to book.
  • Enjoy taking part in a guided walk along the final stage of the Northern Saints Trail. Walk in the footsteps of the Community of St Cuthbert, symbolic of a journey made from Lindisfarne to Durham arriving in 995AD. The walk travels from Chester-le-Street to Durham Cathedral on Sunday 18 September, setting off at 9.30am. The walk is free to take part in but places must be booked in advance at
  • St Andrew’s Church in Dalton-le-Dale will be open on Saturday 17 September from 10am to 4pm. The ancient church has Anglo-Saxon origins. It was built 1155 in a picturesque location and featuring an external sundial.
  • Multi-award winning Killhope Lead Mining Museum in Bishop Auckland has breath-taking scenery, underground adventure, hands on activities and more. The museum will be free to visit between 11am and 2pm on Monday 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 September.
  • Explore the recently restored 17th-century Walled Garden at Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland and meet the gardeners who work there. The Lower Walled Garden is blooming and yielding fresh produce while work on the Upper Walled Garden continues. Visitors can enjoy the Walled Garden from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday 11 and Sunday 18 September. No booking required.
  • East Durham Heritage Group will be showcasing its photographic and document archive relating to the history of Seaham at Seaham Marina. Visitors can view the restored lifeboat the Liverpool class George Elmy, which was tragically wrecked in November 1962. The group is putting on the exhibition from 10.30am to 3.30pm on 9 to 11 and 15 to 18 September. No booking is required.
  • Find out about the history of Thorpe Light Railway in Whorlton, Teesdale, and hear about plans for its future on Saturday 17 September from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. No booking is required.
Thorpe Light Railway

For a full list of Heritage Open Day events taking place in County Durham, visit

Before heading out for Heritage Open Days events, visitors are being encouraged to go to for full event guidance and details, as well as any last-minute changes.

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