Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture returns this September, giving you the chance to explore some of the best cultural attractions and new experiences on your doorstep – all for free.

Taking place between 9 – 18 September, cultural attractions across the county will be throwing their doors open to the public with a packed programme of free events allowing you to delve into Cumbria’s rich history.

You can expect guided tours that take you behind the scenes of churches, castles, historic homes, and former working mills.

Discover secret spaces that are usually closed to the public, watch live demonstrations, and enjoy family-friendly heritage boat trips.

Carlisle is bursting with cultural heritage and this September is the perfect time to visit the many historic assets around the city, with unique opportunities to explore hidden gems within Carlisle Cathedral.

Climb the 137 steps to the top of the Bell Tower to view the Cathedral at height or enter the Prior’s Tower which was built during the 1500’s with its beautiful Tudor painted ceiling.

You can also spend the day learning the story of Cumbrian soldiers at Carlisle Castle with free tours of the former military cells which are usually closed to the public or be blown away by the magnificent Turkish Baths which are tucked away in the heart of the city centre.

There are dozens of other free events happening in other parts of the county too! Head out to the coast and spend the day exploring Cumbria’s fascinating industrial past and local architecture.

Barrow Council will be hosting a two-day celebration (9 – 10 Sep) that includes local walking tours with Greenlane Archaeology, highlighting some of Barrow’s most important buildings.

Visitors can enter the Grade II listed Town Hall with behind-the-scenes tours through the Queens Hall and grand Banquet Hall, or get hands-on with slate and stonemasonry tasters and traditional sign painting workshops.

Further up Cumbria’s coast you can learn about the coalmining heyday in Whitehaven or get off the beaten track with family-friendly wildlife walks, including an evening bat walk where can listen out for echoes using bat detectors.

During your cultural day out there are also plenty of places to discover Cumbria’s history with textiles and creative endeavours.

Watch exciting live woodcarving demonstrations in Troutbeck or visit Farfield Mill in Sedbergh to view the impressive power and handweaving looms of this former working mill.

There are so many free events taking place around the county this September, perfect for a funfilled day of culture and arts.

Head to www.heritageopendays.org.uk to see all listings and remember to book your space ahead before attending.

For more inspiration head to www.visitlakedistrict.com.