Doors Open Day 2021
26 August 2021
Scotland’s annual Doors Open Days festival returns this September with a fantastic programme of in-person and online events and activities.
With 2021 marking the 32rd anniversary of this free festival of places, history and culture, the festival aims to ensure that Scotland’s built and cultural heritage is made accessible to everyone in the country by offering free access to sites across Scotland, some of which are normally closed to the public.
2020 saw Doors Open Days’ first ever digital festival. Building on the success of this, the 2021 festival will have a variety of online and in-person events, enabling more visitors than ever before to explore Scotland’s places of interest.
So, for all those times you’ve wandered past a building and wondered what exactly goes on behind the doors, now is your chance to find out!
Details of all the Edinburgh venues taking place can be found here >
With events taking place throughout the country, we’ve rounded up a small selection of sites within Edinburgh to get you started on your journey of discovery!
Abbey Strand & Physic Garden, The Palace of Holyroodhouse
View this post on Instagram
Located within the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey Strand Learning Centre dates back to around 1490 and has a varied past, including a weapons store during the reign of James V, a home to debtors and at one time home to around 25 families. Today, it is used as a teaching and learning centre by schools and community groups.
Behind Abbey Strand, a new public garden has been created, inspired by the earliest recorded gardens at the Palace. The Physic Garden consists of three distinct areas, each representing a phase in the Palace’s 900-year history.
This year for Doors Open Days 2021 join your guide for a talk exploring the fascinating history of both the Abbey Strand building and the Physic Garden. A special children’s trial is also available.
Talks take place on 25 and 26 September at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, with a limited capacity for each talk.
Augustine United Church
Situated on George IV Bridge, this four-storey building towers over it’s neighbouring buildings, so much so that when it first opened in 1861 it was nicknamed “the bridecake”.
The church’s sanctuary will be open for viewing together with a heritage exhibition on Saturday 25, 10am - 5pm, and Sunday 26, 2pm - 5pm.
The Dower House
Today known as The Corstorphine Heritage Centre in recognition of its current use, the Dower House is one of the oldest inhabited buildings in Edinburgh. On record since 1587, the building has been home to many prominent Corstorphine families over the centuries.
The centre will be opening its doors on 25 September from 10am – 4pm, giving visitors the opportunity to explore this historic building, its archives and recently refurbished museum.
View this post on Instagram
Originally opened in 1867, Dean Gardens are an idyllic 7 acre oasis in the heart of Edinburgh, usually only open to members.
Bordering the Water of Leith, it features a series of planted slopes and level lawn areas and offers stunning views across the Dean Valley.
This Doors Open Day the gardens will be open 26 September from 9am – 5pm, with live music and artwork for sale by local artists.
The first new Kirk to be built in post-Reformation Scotland, Greyfriars Kirk was founded in 1620.
A building of significant historical significance - the National Covenant was presented and signed in front of the pulpit in 1638 - today not only does it offer peace and sanctuary, but it is also an important venue for the arts, a beautiful space for social events and a popular visitor destination.
On 25 and 26 September from 11am- 4pm each day, Friends of Greyfriars Kirkyard are offering tours of the Kirkyard.
Quaker Meeting House
Built in 1865 and purchased by the South East Scotland Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1987, this B listed building can be found on Victoria Terrace in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.
As well as a well-used Meeting House for local Quakers, it has also been used as a Fringe venue.
On Saturday 25 September between 12 noon and 4pm Edinburgh Quakers invite you to discover more about the building's history and its current role.
Alternatively, watch their Quaker Meeting House Virtual Tour from the comfort of home.
Doors Open Days only encourages people to attend in-person events in accordance with the latest Scottish Government COVID-19 guidance. The events and buildings that will be open for physical visits in September will ensure safe access according to the most current guidelines.
Please note that venues may be subject to temporary closure at short notice. Where possible, check with venues before visiting and please follow the guidance of staff and volunteers on site.