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Lily Newton-Browne Weston Mercury Published: August 24, 2021   

Heritage sites across Weston are getting ready to open their doors as people discover the impressive buildings and cultural background of Weston, as part of the national Heritage Open Days (HOD).

Following a reduced festival last year, this year’s free event will feature 10 days of free tours, talks, walks, open days, exhibitions, performances and shows across Weston.

The HOD event, which is England’s largest heritage festival, will be held from September 10–19. 

Events will include virtual and physical tours around off-limit areas and cultural events highlighting Weston’s heritage and celebrating this year’s Edible England theme, including:

Whirligig, in Weston’s Italian Gardens. This free outdoor arts event will include a multi-sensory beehive installation, providing an unusual reference to the West County’s heritage.

Grow Feral, Eat Feral. A community allotment day and cook up, led by Weston-based artist Sam Francis and UHBW Poet in Residence, Beth Caverley.

Hero & Leander. A proud nod to Weston’s Greek community, this bittersweet outdoor gig show tells an epic seaside tale through folk, indie, sea shanties and choral music in a contemporary version of the classic Greek myth.

History of Drag, hosted by Brighton’s Stephanie von Clitz at Weston’s Proud Bar, in Boulevard.

As well as this, the festival will see the opening of parks including Grove Park and Ellenborough West, along with access to St Paul’s and All Saints’ Churches in Weston.

Mark Canniford, executive member for placemaking and economy at North Somerset Council said: “Following a reduced festival last year, Heritage Open Days will be coming back with a bang this year, with 10 days of free tours, talks, walks, open days, exhibitions, performances and shows across Weston.

We’re delighted to be working with Culture Weston and other local businesses, such as Walker and Ling, Loves Café and The Proud Bar, and look forward to hosting this fantastic festival for all ages”.

North Somerset Council heritage and regeneration champion, Cllr John Crockford- Hawley, said: “Everyone is interested about where they live, but don’t always know the stories behind their town.

“Heritage Open Days allow the public to find out more about Weston and its heritage in a fun and creative way.”

Fiona Matthews, creative director at Theatre Orchard and Culture Weston, said: “The events being presented by Theatre Orchard and Culture Weston during Heritage Open Days invite people to celebrate this year’s Edible England theme and the heritage of food in a creative way, by engaging in a variety of cultural activities, some more unexpected than others.

“There’s never been a better time to bring everyone together and nourish them through the shared, universal experience of food, whatever that form may take.”

Ross Simmonds, acting regional director at Historic England, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) has supported this year’s HODs with resources like the online Heritage Tour of Weston and the In The Steps Of Hans Price guided walk. 

“It’s also a great way to showcase some of the fantastic conservation work going on as part of the HAZ, such as the newly restored Walker & Ling shopfront.”

For a full list of Heritage Open Days venues, log-on to the North Somerset Council website.