Guildford throws open its doors to the world from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 September as England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days, goes online for the first time. Residents and visitors will also be able to attend some of the exciting events in person in-line with Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines.

The event which is coordinated locally by Guildford Borough Council, The Guildford Society and the Town Guides will feature online events for the first time. Communities will be able to celebrate the stories of the places and spaces that are important to them in new and innovative ways allowing residents to explore local gems from the comfort of their own home. 

Lead Councillor for Arts and Tourism, Cllr James Steel says: “Heritage Open Days are a great opportunity to enjoy Guildford’s rich history and architecture for free. It’s a chance for all the family to learn about and experience some fantastic buildings and outdoor spaces which they may not have seen before. We have so many beautiful venues in our borough from castles to museums, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We are especially delighted to confirm that there will be a small number of traditional in-person events, alongside the new online activities.”

Some events need to be pre-booked online and social distancing guidelines will be in place to ensure your safety. Why not discover hidden Guildford with a socially distanced guided walk and follow in the footsteps of the people that made the town what it is today?

You will be able to venture beyond the High Street and hear the forgotten stories of Guildford. Learn about how trade impacted the town and how it became the first location in Europe to have a purpose-built car factory. Guildfordians have also seen royalty, traitors, murderers and preachers pass through its cobbled streets.

If you would prefer a walk at your own pace, self-guided walking tours have been created by our knowledgeable Guildford town guides which are also available to view through the National Event online directory.

The University of Surrey will be sharing updates from their archives and special collections focusing on the topic ‘hidden natures’ which will be posted online through a daily blog from Monday 14 to Friday 18 September. In each blog post, there will also be an activity children can do at home using the collection as an inspiration.

Unfortunately, due to Coronavirus restrictions our historic Castle, Guildford House Gallery, The Guildhall, The Medieval Undercroft and the Victorian School Room will not be open to the public this year. However the Guildford Museum and the Castle grounds will be open along with The Great Barn of Wanborough.

Guildford Castle and grounds have received the 2020 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award, placing the attraction among the best in the UK. The Travellers’ Choice ‘Best of the Best’ is awarded across nine different categories including hotels, restaurants and attractions, and is based on reviews and ratings made online and shared by travellers globally. The Travellers’ Choice Award follows the 10 Green Flags awarded to the town last year – the highest number in the South East. The flags are awarded to beautifully maintained spaces which have the highest possible environmental standards and provide an excellent visitor experience. 

The recently refurbished Guildford Museum is currently showing the “Commemoration and Celebration – Memories and Legacies of the Second World War” exhibition, a celebration of both military and civilian heroes which includes a variety of Second World War memorabilia with local relevance. Entry is free.

For more information on all local events visit the National Event online Directory which has the most up-to-date information, including any amendments and last minute cancellations, so please do check it before you visit.