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Fun for all with weekend of heritage open days - Durkan

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is encouraging everyone to enjoy the wealth of built and culture heritage on their doorstep this weekend as part of European Heritage Open Days (EHOD).

This popular celebration of our built heritage, organised by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), is your chance to see over 410 properties and special events across Northern Ireland which will be opening for free on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September.

The head of the project at the European Council, Madelena Grossmann, will be visiting Derry city on Saturday and Belfast on Sunday, to see the events at first hand.

Mark H Durkan said: “I am delighted that the head of this project at the European Council is visiting both Belfast and Derry to see the quality of our built heritage and the range of events and activities which are on offer. I intend meeting her at the weekend to welcome her to Derry. A huge amount of work has been put into the conservation and presentation of our heritage over recent years, much of this supported by my Department. This event however, brings owners and local people to the fore as they open their doors and share their enthusiasm for their buildings and their heritage. I am sure that Ms Grossmann will leave very impressed by the pride that so many people have in the cities of Belfast and Derry.”

In addition to having ‘peeks’ where you normally couldn’t, an exciting new element of this year’s events, in support of Derry~Londonderry as UK City of Culture 2013, will be on embracing culture through many forms. There are over 30 bespoke cultural events including the recital of 100 year old poetry at Dunluce Castle, Celtic storytelling at the Waterside library and a special screening of To Kill a Mockingbird at Rosemary Street church in Belfast. There is something cultural for all to enjoy.

Mark H Durkan said: “European Heritage Open Day weekends are a wonderful opportunity to see inside many fascinating historic buildings, many of which aren’t normally open to the public. I strongly urge families, people young and old, to go out this weekend and have a good ‘nosey’ at our wonderful buildings. It is a weekend which just gets better year on year and the support of local people as well as tourists is overwhelming.

“Last year over 61,000 visitors were able to get inside many of our stately homes, churches, museums and gardens. There are plenty of buildings and events in each county like the Headhunter’s Railway Museum in Enniskillen and the Darkley House family fun day in Keady. Visitors can see and hear our built heritage as our sites and buildings come alive with living history, film screenings, literary events, theatre performances, visual arts, art exhibitions and much more!”

This is the sixteenth year that Northern Ireland has taken part in this Europe wide event. This year the range of free events for all ages has more variety than ever before. There are a number of new featured events from the RSUA, PLACE and Libraries NI, and featured artists from the University of Ulster.

Highlighting the EHOD link to Derry City Of Culture the Minister said:”As a Derry man I am more than happy to highlight that we have embraced the Derry City of Culture by using culture as the European Heritage Open Days theme and encouraging more people to visit the city. Derry’s walls are 400 years old this year and we have around 400 Open Day events happening this weekend. They include the chance to enjoy NIEA’s ‘living history’ with a programme of events hosted in venues across the North.

“I thank all of the owners and guardians of properties who open their doors and to those other volunteers who give up their time to lead tours and host events. Without their enthusiasm and generosity this weekend event would not be possible.”

European Heritage Open Days brochures are available from your local library or Tourist Information Centre or alternatively log on to http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/ehod to find out more about what events and properties are opening near you and across Northern Ireland, what days the properties or events are opening on and if you need to book. In some cases booking is essential, so check it out to avoid disappointment.

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