From vintage bus tours to unusual places and hidden spaces, explore the city as never before

Involving some 40,000 volunteers and over 5000 events, Heritage Open Days (HODs) is already England’s largest festival of history and culture. This year, however, HODs is celebrating its 25th anniversary with its most ambitious fest to date - promising ten days of fun for all the family from 13th - 22nd September. What’s more, it’s all completely free. 

This year’s ‘people power’ theme celebrates communities, groups and individuals - both contemporary and from history - who have affected positive change

Exhibitions, performances, talks, walks, tours…expect all these and more besides, including the chance to explore ‘hidden spaces’ as landmark buildings open their doors to areas normally off limits. 

2019 09 09 Heritage Open Days
HODs is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries

This year’s theme is ‘people power,’ inspired by both the Peterloo Massacre bicentenary and all the volunteers, partners and communities that have made HODs possible for 25 years.

Some of the many highlights in Manchester include a trip back in time at the Museum of Transport, where visitors can also catch a heritage bus to other events; a Halle-led choral session at one of England’s few authentic wattle and daub churches; a celebration of Christabel Pankhurst’s birthday at the Pankhurst Centre; and even a chance to see how sunlight is converted into electricity at Salford Road Solar Farm as part of 25 for 25.    

2019 09 09 Museum Of Transport
The Museum of Transport has one of Britain's biggest collections of restored buses, coaches and trams

Manchester will also be part of Dare to Dream, a series of free craftivism workshops with Sarah Corbett as part of HODs’ Unsung Stories arts project. As founder of the global Craftivist Collective, Corbett explores positive change through ‘craftivism’ - a form of gentle protest combining craft and activism - and will help participants to hand-stitch ‘dream clouds’ with their visions for future. Designed to hang in meaningful locations and be shared on social media, these provoke thought without being confrontational. 

Each workshop will take inspiration from change-makers of the past and Manchester’s will focus on the social reformer Annie Besant. Born in 1847, Besant was an early advocate of birth control, and became heavily involved with the Match Girls Strike of 1888 to demonstrate against poor working conditions, fourteen-hour days, low pay and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus - inspiring huge changes to workers’ rights.

2019 09 09 Dare To Dream
The ‘Dare to Dream’ clouds will be hung in meaningful locations

Alongside more than 5700 events (expected to attract over 3 million visitors), other initiatives this year include a photography competition, HODs’ silver anniversary and - building on last year’s ‘Extraordinary Women’ theme - a series of Wikipedia workshops in partnership with the Women’s Engineering Society and The Wellcome Collection. 

HODs National Manager, Annabelle Thorpe, said: “Our 25th anniversary and our first-ever ten-day festival means Heritage Open Days 2019 is going to be an unforgettable year. And what better time to celebrate ‘People Power’ - something that is at the very heart of our unique festival. This September will see a more diverse and innovative array of events than ever before - proving that Heritage Open Days really does belong to everyone.”

Heritage Open Days takes place from 13th - 22nd September nationwide - a list of Greater Manchester events can be found here or by using the search function