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European Heritage Open Days: 10 new places and events to visit for free in Northern Ireland

Over 300 properties across Northern Ireland are set to open their doors to visitors for free this weekend as part of the 2017 European Heritage Open Days.

Now in its 20th year, the open days encourage people all over Europe to visit the historic buildings and take in the 'heritage and nature' of nearby properties.

Well known spots across Northern Ireland will be taking part on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September, including Belfast Castle, the Ulster Museum, Castle Ward House, the Guildhall, and the Giant’s Causeway.

And there will also be a number of new properties and events taking place for the first time this year  - these include:

1. Crumlin Road Masonic Hall, Belfast

The Crumlin Road Masonic Hall was built in 1936 in the Art Deco style B. T. McGeagh.

As part of the European Heritage Open Days, the hall will be opened and manned by Masons with ample knowledge of Masonry in the area.

Opening times:

Saturday & Sunday: 10am - 4pm

Hourly tours are available on both days.

2. Manor House Walled Gardens, Rathlin Island

Manor House Walled Gardens

The Manor House, Rathlin Island has been home to the Gage family for over 200 years.

They added a walled garden - with rumours soil was shipped from Scotland - making it an idyllic haven for local wildflowers with hopes to restore it to its former glory, to include fruit trees and a kitchen garden.

Opening times:

Saturday & Sunday : 10am - 4pm

3. St Luke's Parish Church, Loughgall, Co Armagh

St Luke's Parish Church, Loughgall

This Gothic style church was built in 1795 with a gallery added in 1822.

The church contains many artifacts relating to its cultural and historical past and members of the congregation will be available to act as tour guides for visitors.

Word searches, crosswords and colouring sheets will also be available for children.

Opening times:

Saturday: 10am - 5pm

Sunday: 1pm - 5pm

4. Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, Belfast


Visitors are invited to discover Ulster-Scots music, dance, history and heritage in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

You can explore the spacious exhibition gallery with live folk music performances, Highland & Scottish ceilidh dance workshops, or try on some period costumes from the early 1600s, and learn more about the historic links between Scotland and Ulster.

Opening times:

Saturday: 10:30am - 4pm

5. Carnfunnock Country Park, Co Antrim

Carnfunnock Country Park

With over 191 hectares of mixed woodland, colourful gardens and spectacular coastline with panoramic views of the Antrim Coast and North Channel, visitors can enjoy a guided tour by Dr David Hume.

Also learn about the buildings and historical links to the Chaine family and Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon.

Opening times

Saturday: 9am - 8pm

Sunday: 9am - 8pm

Tour and children's activities: 2.30pm - 4.30pm

Booking required:

6. Exhibition by Artist Tommy Barr, Old Town Hall, Banbridge

Banbridge artist Tommy Barr will showcase his retrospective exhibition, Travels in a Small World.

These are a collection of paintings created over the last 12 years, many as part of major International and European festivals and events.

Opening times:

Saturday: 10am-4pm

7. The Park after Dark, Creggan Country Park, Derry/Londonderry

The Park after Dark

Visitors are invited to explore the fascinating world of bats after dark, as they go for a walk around the lake with bat detecting equipment.

This event is suitable for ages 7+ only and children must be accompanied by an adult.


Saturday: 7:30pm - 9:30pm

8. Lackagh Old Graveyard and Jacob's Stone Carving, Drumquin, Co Tyrone

Lackagh Old Graveyard

A guided tour of the church ruins which dates to the early 17th century, but is on the site of earlier medieval churches.

A stone carving in the graveyard, one face depicts two figures which may represent Jacob wrestling with the angel, a scene that appears on many high crosses.

Opening times:

Saturday: 3pm - 5pm

Sunday: 3pm - 8pm

9. Devenish Ecclesiastical Site, Co Fermanagh

Devenish Island

Historical characters will bring this site to life as this island community which was founded in 6th Century by St Molaise.

Best known for its intact round tower, there is much else to see and explore.

Opening times:

Saturday: 12pm - 3pm

10. Ardress Famine Pit, St Mary's Church of Magheraculmoney Parish, Co Fermanagh

Ardress Famine Pit, St Mary's Church of Magheraculmoney Parish

Visit the Ardess Parish Church, which was originally built in the 14th Century, and in the graveyard is the famine pit for the unknown dead from 1845-1850, a stone vaulted tomb and a mock funeral bier gate.

Opening times:

Saturday: 2pm - 5pm

Sunday: 2pm - 4pm

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