Belfast Telegraph

400 properties across Northern Ireland to open to public for heritage event

By Maureen Coleman

Up to 400 properties across Northern Ireland are to throw open their doors to the public this weekend as part of European Heritage Open Days (EHOD).

From castles to cottages, museums to Martello towers, visitors can wander around some of our best-loved buildings for free or take a sneak peek around properties they've never visited before.

This is the 17th year that Northern Ireland has taken part in this European-wide event, which aims to reflect our common and varied European Architectural Heritage.

A packed programme of walks, talks and tours has been organised to take place tomorrow and Sunday, as well as arts and culture, food and drink, crafts and living, history events.

The spotlight will also be shone on Northern Ireland's multi-million pound film and television industry, with behind-the-scenes talks on big-budget productions such as BBC2 thriller The Fall, HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones and new Hollywood blockbuster Dracula Untold.

This year, in support of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure's 'Decade of Centenaries', EHOD has chosen 'Anniversaries' as its theme.

The political, social and cultural consequences of what happened during the decade of 1912-22 reverberate throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to this day.

Many of the commemorative anniversaries throughout the decade have international as well as local significance, and it is the collective celebration and commemoration of unique local anniversaries which are highlighted in this year's brochure.

BBC NI celebrates 90 years of service with a series of screenings and recordings throughout the weekend at the City Hall, Central Library, Linenhall Library and Ballywalter House.

Central Library itself marks its 125th year of operation with tours tomorrow at 10.30am and 2.30pm.

This year EHOD once again offers 'Living History' re-enactments across Northern Ireland, making history more accessible. Among the re-enactments will be a day of 17th century revelry at Dunluce Castle until 5pm tomorrow, costumed guided tours throughout Milford House Museum and an exhibition entitled Life on the Canal at Moneypenny's Lock House. Over the weekend, the sound of church organ recitals will fill St Peter's Cathedral (tomorrow and Sunday, 8.30am-7pm), May Street Presbyterian (tomorrow 10am-4pm, Sunday 12.30pm-4pm) and Townsend Street Presbyterian (tomorrow 10am-6pm and Sunday 2pm-6pm).

And for budding artists, there's a drawing trail at the Drawing Offices, the SS Nomadic and the Titanic's Dock & Pump-House.

There will be a number of architecture tours, including a colourful Art Deco Belfast tour and a new Georgian Belfast walk.

Countless properties will be open for perusal, including the Barbican, Glenarm, the Hilden Brewery, the award-winning Origami House, Ballymena, and Lynwood House, Gracehill.

For details, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.

Five of the hottest picks

1. A Cold War bunker buried 15ft under a field on the outskirts of Portadown will be open to visitors tomorrow and Sunday (11am-5pm). The former monitoring bunker once formed part of a wider network of similar structures all over the UK. The bunker was closed in 1991 but has been restored to its 1980s state.

2. Open day at Blackhead Lightkeeper's Houses 1 & 2, McCrea's Brae, Whitehead. Built during the glory days of Belfast's shipping era, Blackhead Lightkeeper's Houses provide stunning views of Belfast Lough and beyond.

3. Traditional baking at Arthur Cottage, Cullybackey, tomorrow, 4pm. See how the Arthur family lived in 18th century.

4. The R-Space Gallery (32 Castle Street) in Lisburn was once the Cathedral Rectory and is now a thriving visual arts and crafts space. Tomorrow 12pm-5pm, hard-hat tours are available and talks at 2pm and 4pm.

5. Mount Stewart in Ards will host a talk and Q&A from location manager Catherine Geary, who worked on the upcoming movie Dracula Untold. Catherine, who also worked on Skyfall and Philomena, will explain why the neo-classical house was chosen as the backdrop for the upcoming gothic horror.

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