Open House London — one of the highlights of the annual calendar — is back in September, and this time it's running for nine days.
From 4 to 12 September, buildings across the entirety of Greater London fling open their doors, inviting you in for a good snoop around. This is basically Christmas for London lovers, and frankly we can't wait to get stuck in.
What to do, where to go?
Even with its extended run time this year, Open House feels like a race against the clock to cram in as much culture as you can. Choose anywhere from the remains of a Roman Villa in Orpington, to a Tudor water conduit in Kingston; to a community of 1980s self-built houses in Lewisham, to Foster + Partners' gleaming glass City Hall, which has presided over the Thames for two decades. Open House's website features a handy filter system, including eras and building genres, which should help you whittle down your selection.
Special themes for 2021
Otherwise, you could go by special themes selected by Open House for 2021. These include Healthcare - Supporting Key Workers (featuring Bethlem Royal Hospital and Maggie's Barts); Protecting Culture (including Suttons's Honeywood Museum and Little Angel Theatre in Islington); and De-centering London (which includes a 15th century barn in Hillingdon and the Argentine Ambassador's Residence near Hyde Park).
What about getting into Downing Street then?
Ah yes, the legendarily elusive 10 Downing Street ticket. The good news is that the PM's residence will open its doors again this year (after taking 2020 off for obvious reasons). You'll need to enter a ballot, though, which closes on 18 August.
Do I need to book for other things?
In general, some venues/tours require entering ballots, others need to be booked, and others you can just rock up to. (It's pretty much all free though.) There are over 500 places and events to get stuck into over the week, some virtual as well as IRL. Get yourself on the Open House website, have a rootle around, and start planning!