Norfolk Heritage Open Days is a celebration of the county’s rich and diverse history taking place 8-17 September, all events and activities are completely free!
Every year, Norfolk opens its doors for the 10-day long festival, giving locals and visitors alike the chance to delve into the past, discovering weird and wonderful stories of Norfolk, making a day you won’t forget. From historic buildings to beautiful landscapes, the county has an incredible amount to offer.
Let’s take a look at just 5 events (of over 200 free events registered) taking place across Norfolk for HODs this year…
St Benet’s Abbey – Fish & Chippings (North Norfolk District)
Saturday 9, Wednesday 13 & Saturday 16 September: 2pm. No booking required.
St. Benet’s Abbey historically significant monastery, dating back to the 9th century, provides a unique blend of history and nature, making it both a tranquil retreat and an opportunity for a connection to the past.
Wondering about the interesting event title? Well, in line with the theme for HODs this year, “Creativity Unwrapped”, the experienced guides will share the hidden secrets of the Abbey with a focus on the creative architecture and flint work and unwrap the importance of fantastically preserved surrounding fishponds. You don’t get fish & chips with this event, but you’re not far from the seaside!
Anna Sewell House (Great Yarmouth District)
Friday 8, Wednesday 13 & Friday 15 September: ALL 10am-2pm. No Booking Required.
Perfect for history, horse and literature lovers, explore the birthplace of Anna Sewell, author of the famous book Black Beauty, and discover more about the story. You’ll have the opportunity to look through vintage copies, view some original hand-painted illustration slides produced for the first edition and hear from Redwings Horse Sanctuary, who have taken over guardianship of the special building just last year. They will share information about the book’s influence on horse welfare and how it translates to their practices today.
Wymondham Vintage Day (South Norfolk District)
Sunday 17 September: 11am-4pm. No booking required.
Explore the historical market town of Wymondham for their Vintage Day on the final day of the festival. With many events, activities and sights to see, all for free, Wymondham Vintage Day is sure to delight all the family.
The streets will be lined with stunning classic cars and antique and market stalls, plus visitors are encouraged to come dressed in an era of your choice and celebrate! Experience a heritage bus park and ride, Heritage Museum, Wymondham Arts Centre in the newly restored Beckets Chapel, Wymondham Abbey, Mid-Norfolk Railway, Abbey Station and tours of the town are just a few suggestions of what you can experience on the day!
Oxburgh Estate – National Trust (Breckland District)
Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September 9.30am – 5pm. No Booking Required.
Take advantage of free entry to the stunning National Trust property at Oxburgh Estate for the final weekend of the HODs festival.
Enjoy exploring Victorian Gothic interiors, view curious collections, take peaceful woodland walks and see colourful gardens. You’ll peel back the layers of history as you wander through a house filled with portraits, treasured objects, and fascinating documents on loan from the current Baronet, Sir Henry Bedingfeld’s private collection.
Visiting Oxburgh Estate is a great day out for the whole family, not to be missed.
Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (Norwich District)
Saturday 16 September 10am-2pm & 3pm-4pm. No Booking Required.
The Sainsbury Institute is a research organisation specialising in the arts and cultures of Japan in the heart of Cathedral Close. Founded in 1999, through the generosity of Sir Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, the mission has been to promote world class research and be a leader in the study of Japanese arts and cultures from the past to the present.
Usually closed to the public, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures will be opening their doors to showcase the historic headquarters at 64 The Close. From exhibitions at Stonehenge, to local archaeological excavations, to the new ‘Digital Japan’ initiative, you can find out more about their diverse range of projects.
Embracing this year’s ‘Creativity Unwrapped’ theme for the HODs festival, they’re also treating visitors to a special display of materials related to the acrobats & performers of Japan, who made their way to Norwich in the late 19th century, enriching the variety of circus traditions here in the UK at the time.
These are just a glimpse of what’s waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, or simply curious about the past, these events will surely leave you lasting memories and connection with Norfolk.
So, mark your calendars, come and be a part of this incredible journey into the heart of Norfolk’s history. Happy heritage hunting!