By Joshua Robinson –
Kirklees organisations will contribute with over 90 events to the annual national Heritage Open Days festival, which runs from Friday 8th to Sunday 17th September. It’s England’s biggest festival of history and culture, and all events are entirely free to attend.
Behind-the-scenes visits to buildings, guided walks, hands-on craft sessions, exhibitions, film shows, parks and nature will feature in the all-time record programme of 96 events. Over 40 are new this year, and around 20 contribute as well to the Kirklees Year of Music, offering performances in varied musical genres.
More churches have joined the festival, as part of Yorkshire Churches Day on Saturday 16th September, and many venues will offer refreshments and children’s activities alongside tours and heritage displays.
A special opening event at Dewsbury Minster, on Friday 8th September, will see the festival ‘rung in’ on the Minster’s bells by Mayor of Kirklees Cllr Cahal Burke, followed by a concert featuring handbell ringing, the Minster’s choir and traditional folk group Hebble. This is in
association with the Dewsbury Heritage Action Zone. which has co-ordinated most of the Dewsbury events.
Cllr Burke said: “I’m delighted to be launching this year’s Heritage Open Days. I’ve taken part myself in past years as a member of Lindley Community Group, and the wealth of events this year is a tribute to the strength of the voluntary heritage sector across Kirklees. I am looking forward to visiting some of our great heritage sites and I encourage everyone to see them as well.”
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance & Regeneration, says: “Heritage Open Days are about celebrating our history and culture here in Kirklees, as we look to the future and to investment in future-proofing our heritage. We have fantastic heritage, with many much-loved Listed buildings. I’d urge Kirklees residents to get involved, as this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the heritage we’re trying to preserve, and how our plans for growth and development in Kirklees pay homage to that as well as creating more modern, thriving and resilient town centres.”
The festival will conclude in Huddersfield on Sunday 17th September with a series of events in and around the Open Market, including: ‘Heritage in the Hudd’, a mini-festival of films, displays and stalls reflecting the diverse communities of Kirklees and a musical finale – the TOWNSOUNDS reggae street party. These events have been organised by the Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone.
Every part of Kirklees has something to offer, from Batley train station to the creative artists of Spen; from a knitting archive in Slaithwaite to an ancient prison in Holmfirth; and from the Buddhists of Birkby to the Seventh Day Adventists of Crosland Hill.
A colourful brochure setting out the full programme of events is widely available in Council buildings and other venues across Kirklees, online at https://tinyurl.com/kirkleeshods2023 or the Heritage Open Days website can be searched.
Most events are open access, but some have to be booked – the brochure and website show how to book where this is needed.