Open House London Weekend Returns On 21 & 22 September

The Open House London Weekend makes a welcome return next month, taking place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September.

During this annual festival, architecturally significant buildings that are normally private throw open their doors to the general public, and this year it looks like it will be bigger and better than ever with 830 buildings and events making up the weekend. You’ll be able to visit everything from law courts to Government departments via private homes and community spaces over the two days.

The best way to plan your visits over the Open House London Weekend is to pick up the guidebook, which you can get online here, and which helps organisers Open City to fund their continuing work. For the tech-savvy, as an alternative you can pick up the special app in the Apple store. It’s currently available for a bargain price of 69p, although there’s no word yet on an Android version. Whichever you choose, both the paper and electronic versions will give you full listing of the buildings that you can visit this year, and they’re an easier way to find venues than scrolling through page after page on the website…

As with previous years if you have a particular building in mind you should check to see whether you need to book in advance, and if you do secure a spot you should still be prepared to queue – last year we waited in line for about an hour to get inside Lloyds of London, for example.

Featured on the ballot this year (which is down for technical reasons as of 30 August – no surprise there!) are 10 Downing St, an opportunity to take a free trip up The Shard or the London Eye, and the legal enclave of Gray’s Inn. I’ve put my name down for Downing St but it’s going to take an extraordinary stroke of luck to pull that off – if I do get inside I promise an extensive blogpost on that building alone!

Other places you might want to consider (that I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past) are Methodist Central Hall on Parliament Square, which has some rather unusual features including a ‘natural amplification’ spot, and the UK Supreme Court just next door which is an outstandingly beautiful building both inside and out. Coming from a slightly different angle you might also want to consider a visit to the King’s Cross Construction Skills Centre, which will be opening its doors on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. It’s a good place to launch yourself off on a wider exploration of the new development area around the back of the station, which already has a few hidden treasures…

You can see what we got up to last year here, and perhaps we’ll see you at one of the more choice spots over the Open House London Weekend this year – if you spot us do say hello!