Bell Ringing, Steam Engines, Beatrix Potter, Castles, Churches and more. There’s lots of things happening all over Wales this weekend with the Open Doors Scheme.
This weekend is the last weekend in September and so the last weekend of the Cadw Open Doors scheme. Lots of places offer free entry or special events during September every year. A great way of having a free day out with the family.
Some of the ticketed venues have sold out already but there are still plenty of places you can visit this weekend. Some you don’t even have to book. If you do have to book we’ll list it below and usually it’s a matter of phoning or following a link and printing your tickets (tickets still available at time of writing where listed).
Take a picnic along with you and maybe pick a location where there are a few different things going on and you could make a full day of it taking in the history of some familiar and not so familiar places.
So here’s a round up of things you can do all over Wales this weekend. Enjoy.
Visit the Hafoty Medieval House between 12 and 4pm and take a tour with a guide to learn about its history or how about visiting a Neolithic burial chamber that isn’t usually open to the public. Barclodiad-y-Gawres (the giantess’s apronful) is based on the side of a cliff and is famous for its decorated stones. Tours will start at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Tondu Methodist Church is celebrating local crafts on the Saturday with displays and presentations and on the Sunday they’ll have a traditional Harvest Festival service with the church full of flowers, fruit and vegetables. You could also visit St John’s house that is one of the oldest buildings in the town where Sons of the Dragon will be giving displays of medieval longbows and other equipment from the period, with traditional games and authentic costumes for the children to try.
Caerphilly Castle is throwing it’s doors open for free and will also have tours where you can learn all about its history. Tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. This is a ticketed event so you must book beforehand through the Cadw website and print your own tickets.
There’s a lot going on in Cardiff. On the Saturday you could visit the Off the Wall Gallery in Llandaff, The Tabernacl Church in The Hayes, the Glamorgan Archives (booking required), Insole Court in Llandaff, guided tours of Nazareth house, W. Clarke Sculptors in Llandaff (booking required) or The Old Library (booking required). St Margaret’s Church in Roath will be open both days or if you would like to learn more about Jewish history the Cardiff Reform Synagogue is giving talks on the Sunday at 11:30am and 1:30pm.
There are loads of things going on in Carmarthenshire over the weekend. If you’d like to visit some museums then on the Saturday Carmarthenshire County Museum is hosting activities and talks, Parc Howard Museum and Art Gallery in Llanelli will be giving talks and guided tours around the park, The Tin Shed Experience is a quirky 1940s museum in Laugharne and while you’re there you could learn about the great poet Dylan Thomas at his Boathouse which is open both days.
You can learn about local history at Llandovery College on the Saturday (booking required) and listen to formal talks at Laugharne Town Hall, or visit historical worshipping places such as Laugharne English Congregational Church, Llandingat Church, Williams Pantycelyn Memorial Chapel and Llandybie Parish Church which are all open on the Saturday or Llanfair ar y Bryn Church and Bwlchnewydd Chapel in Laugharne which are open both days.
Dinefwr Park and Castle and it’s Roman forts are also opening it’s doors for free to visitors on the Saturday and Dolaucothi Gold Mines will be taking over on the Sunday where you’re taken back to experience the mines during the Roman and Victorian times as well as the 1930s. You’ll also get a chance to tour underground. You will need to book your tour place on the day at the venue.
Learn about the monks of the Middle Ages at Strata Florida Abbey (tickets required through Cadw) or visit the Vale of Rheidiol Railway station where you’ll be taken behind the scenes to places visitors are not usually allowed to go and see some of the engines as well – great for enthusiastic little train fans.
Conwy is all about churches and museums this weekend. Visit the Sir Henry Jones Museum in Abergele between 2 and 4pm on the Saturday to learn about the education reformers history and see the Waldo Williams exhibition. Or you can visit the Llandudno Museum where they will be giving two tours at 11am and 2pm.
Capel Seion in Conwy, St Mary’s Church in Trefriw and St Rhychwyns Church in Llanrychwyn are also welcoming visitors up until 30th September.
Lots of things are happening in Denbighshire and if you’re a fan of the Beatrix Potter books then you can head over to Gwaenynog Hall where you can see the garden and potting shed that inspired some of her famous tales.
There’s a load going on in Denbigh over the weekend. You could visit the Castle (tickets required through Cadw), the Friary, Library, Museum, the Town Walls, HWB Dinbych (Saturday only) and Town Hall Chamber. There’ll be a few guided tours and walks with a Tour of the Town, Townsend Tour and Gwaenynog Tour (booking required) on the Saturday or a Geology Tour and Discover Medieval Denbigh on the Sunday. Learn all about the pottery, mill and gardens at the Brookhouse Pottery, or visit Bryn y Parc town house, Burgess Gate, Cae Dai 50s Museum (Saturday only) or the Wireless in Wales Radio Museum. Visit Wales’s oldest independent printing press at Gwasg Gee, The Carriagworks arts and crafts centre or Theatr Twm o’r Nant.
Near Llangollen you can visit and learn all about the ancient Valle Crucis Abbey (tickets required through Cadw). If holy architecture is your thing then there are plenty of churches opening their doors across Denbighshire: Leicester’s Church, Llangar Old Parish Church, Rug Chapel (ticketed), St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, St Marcella’s Church, St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Church Rhuddlan, St Tecla’s Church (Saturday only), St Thomas’s Presbyterian Church, Dr Evan Pierce Memorial Gardens
Bangor Univeristy will be allowing people to look through their archives and collections. There are various tours on the Saturday that need to be booked through the university.
There are still tickets left for some of Gwynedd’s impressive castles as well with tickets for Caernarfon, Criccieth and Harlech castles still available at the time of writing (tickets available through Cadw)
Coleg Harlech (Wern Fawr) is opening its doors to its exhibition on the history of the building and a guided tour every day until 30th September between 11am and 2pm.
Behind the scenes tours and guided walks around Pontmorlais will be taking place on Saturday at the Central Library in Merthyr Tydfil. Original maps and plans of the area will also be on display.
Fancy trying out some bell ringing? There will be demonstrations and tuitions happening at St John the Baptist Church in Cefn Coed on Saturday.
At Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery the ‘Out of Storage’ talk will be showing and talking about objects taken out of storage at 2pm on Sunday. Booking for this is essential by contacting the museum directly.
Castles are always a big hit with children and two of Monmouthshire’s castles still have tickets available at the time of writing this. Head on over to Cadw’s pages to book tickets for Chepstow Castle and Raglan Castle.
On Sunday you could learn about a 17th Century cider house and visit the orchard at the Cider House in Cwm Farm, Lingoed. Guided tours and talks will take place between 2 and 5pm.
Open between 10am and 5pm, Neath Abbey and Gatehouse is an impressive building and you can learn more about the history with guided tours at 10am, 12:30pm and 3pm.
Learn all about the history of Caerleon Baths, the Amphitheatre and Barracks with guided tours by a Roman expert. Tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm starting from the Fortress Baths.
A castle and a palace in Pembrokeshire. Visit Cadw for tickets to visit Cligerran Castle and St Davids Bishop Palace with tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm at both venues.
Learn all about the history of Tretower Court and Castle by visiting Cadw to secure your tickets. There are tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm as well so you can learn more about the location.
On Sunday Llanfyllin Workhouse will be open to the public and the Parish Church of St Tysilio and St Mary, Meifod are also welcoming visitors with tours available between 2 and 7:30pm.
Powysland Museum in Welshpool will be offering free entry until the end of September showing local archaeology and social history.
On Saturday visit Rhondda Heritage Park that used to be Lewis Merthyr Colliery. There is a visitor centre, gallery and cafe and an ex minor will be giving guided talks at 11:30am and 1:30pm that will include a visit ‘underground’ (booking essential). If you’ve been inspired after visiting the Rhondda Heritage Park then you could also visit the Hetty Colliery Engine House in Pontypridd that is open both days.
The Giles Gallery at the Old Methodist Church in Pontyclun is open on Saturday with over a 100 artists exhibiting their work. Or visit St Dyfrig’s RC Church and Hall that is open between 10:30am and 3:30pm on Saturday with guided tours and music groups playing at specific times. St Matthew’s Church in Treorchy is also open on the Sunday with an exhibition of photographs and vintage cream teas being served.
If you want to get out and about then there is a guided walk around Treforest on Saturday starting at 11am. You will need to book a place on the walk through Pontypridd Museum.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like backstage at the theatre? Well now’s your chance. Swansea Grand Theatre are showing all the backstage and front of house areas to the public on Saturday between 10 and 11am. Booking required through the Box Office.
Visit the grand Oxwich Castle, which isn’t really a proper castle, to learn about the showy Mansel family who built and lived in the castle. Tickets available through Cadw.
Swansea Museum is open on Sunday 2-4pm displaying treasures from Swansea’s past as well as items from Wales and the rest of the world. Learn all about the history of jazz coming to Wales in their special exhibition.
In Torfaen the Blaenavon Ironworks are giving guided tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, learn about the history of the ironworks as well as the surrounding area.
And to finish off in Wrexham where the Clwyd Family History Society Resource Centre will teach you how to trace your family history on Saturday so that you can start your own family tree.