Discover hidden histories with free access to National Trust places on European Heritage Open Days

National Trust places and spaces around the country will open their doors for free during this year’s European Heritage Open Days, encouraging more people to explore the wonderful shared cultural heritage on our doorstep.

Using this year’s European wide theme of “Inclusion – Exploring our hidden history together”, the conservation charity is celebrating inclusiveness and diversity as well as access to nature through a varied programme of guided tours, walks, talks and exhibitions.

Some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic buildings, gardens and attractions, including Mount Stewart, Mussenden Temple and the Giant’s Causeway are cared for by the National Trust and will be open to the public to explore for free on Saturday 11 September.  The Trust will also be opening some of the smaller and quirkier properties in its care including Patterson’s Spade Mill, Wellbrook Beetling Mill and Gray’s Printing Press where visitors can enjoy a sensory insight into the industrial heritage of our past.

A full list of National Trust NI places participating in European Heritage Open Days 2021, including dates, times and booking requirements, can be found on the Department of the Communities website or

Castle Ward, County Down

Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September – pre-booking not required

Take a self-led tour of the mansion house at Castle Ward where new audio interpretation in the rooms will reveal stories connected to women, LGBTQ+, mental health and the history of the servants who lived and worked here. Costumed guides in the house and garden will also reveal fascinating tales of Castle Ward’s past.


Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne, North Coast

Friday 10 to Sunday 12 September – pre-booking not required

Enjoy a free guided tour of the Downhill Demesne and learn about the Earl Bishop’s life and the landscape that he shaped which is steeped in history and nature.  As you explore this enchanting estate, you’ll learn about the workings of the 18th century demesne and discover ruins, dovecotes, gardens and the spectacular Mussenden Temple.

Tours will start from Lionsgate and are on a first come first served basis.

Gray’s Printing Press, County Tyrone

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking not required

Take a step back in time and discover a treasure trove of ink, galleys and presses hidden behind an 18th-century shop front in the heart of Strabane, once the famous printing town of Ulster. Tours will be led by a local volunteer with expert knowledge of the press and its history.


Wellbrook Beetling Mill, County Tyrone

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking not required

Nestling in an idyllic wooded glen offering lovely walks and picnic spots this, the last working water-powered linen beetling mill, offers a unique experience for all the family. Enjoy a tour of the mill which will be manned and operational for the event.

Patterson’s Spade Mill, County Antrim

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking not required

Hear the hammers, smell the grit and feel the heat of traditional spade-making and blacksmithing. The Mill vividly captures life during the Industrial Revolution and digs up the history and culture of the humble spade.

Giant’s Causeway, North Coast

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking essential via Department of Communities website

Discover some of the hidden histories of the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join a National Trust storyteller for a guided tour along the fully accessible Green Trail and hear some of the lesser-known stories associated with this special place.

Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking not required

Enjoy free access to the estate, explore the gardens and join a house tour of one of Ireland’s finest Neo-classical houses for a glimpse into what life was like in the home of the Earls of Belmore. Hear the story of the people who lived and worked below the stairs as you explore the splendid suite of servant’s rooms and service quarters of this magnificent property.

Mount Stewart, County Down

Saturday 11 September – pre-booking essential via

Considered to be one of the most outstanding gardens in the world, Mount Stewart is the most visited National Trust mansion house property in Northern Ireland. Enjoy free access to the estate, gardens and house. Take a self-guided tour of the house and learn from the room guides about the fascinating home of the Londonderry family. Tour the new ‘Mystery of the Mountstewart Exhibition’, discover miles of walking trails and more.

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