Historic and hidden Greater Manchester venues opening for free this month

With the weather having taken a quick turn for the worst over the last few days, the end of summer feels particularly acute. Fortunately, while the holidays may now be a distant memory, there's plenty still to explore as the Heritage Open Days make a grand return. A number of Greater Manchester venues have announced they will be welcoming visitors for free this month as part of England's largest festival of history and culture.

Heritage Open Days will be taking place at locations across the region this September and will offer visitors the chance to explore some of Greater Manchester's historic and secret spaces at zero cost. Dunham Massey, Victoria Baths and the People's History Museum are just some of the well-known spots taking part in the event, with plenty of different locations opening their doors this month. Lesser-known venues include Altrincham Little Theatre and Fairfield Moravian Settlement.

READ MORE: Chance to explore Castlefield Viaduct after hours as lineup for this year's Manchester's Science Festival is announced Nationwide, the festival attracts more than 2,000 organisations and spans 5,000 free events with the help and support of 4,000 volunteers. Many of this year's events are taking part in Greater Manchester with Manchester City Council working alongside Heritage Open Days to offer more than 100 free events across the city and further afield.

Heritage Open Days, which will take place between September 9 and September 18, offer the chance to explore hidden and secret places and try out new experiences, without breaking the bank. Below you'll find some of the events taking place in Greater Manchester this September. For the full listings you can visit the Heritage Open Days website.

Fairfield Moravian Settlement

The Fairfield Moravian settlement

When? September 11
Where? Fairfield Moravian Church, 29 Fairfield Square, Droylsden, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M43 6AE
Pre-booking required? Preferred
About: Fairfield Moravian Church and Settlement are of unique importance nationally, being the largest of its kind in Britain and has been made into a Conservation Area with all of its buildings listed as being of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

Founded in 1785 as a self-sufficient religious community, much of the settlement and its buildings have retained their original character. This September, enjoy a guided tour around the settlement, which has featured in TV series including Peaky Blinders and Mrs Lowry & Son at zero cost.

Dunham Massey

When? September 14 and 17
Where? National Trust, Dunham Massey Hall, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 4SJ
Pre-booking required? No
About: Nestled between the city of Manchester and the beginnings of rural Cheshire, Dunham Massey spans a 300-acre deer park, a historic house filled with stories, and a garden for all seasons. Outdoors, visitors can explore vast parkland, lush gardens and ancient trees, while indoors ornate brooms, servants quarters and a collection that spans the history of the house awaits.

There's also the chance to enjoy a picnic in the grounds or enjoy local produce in Dunham's cafe, shop and restaurant.

Altrincham Little Theatre - Projecting the Past - People, Places and Picture Palaces

The Altrincham Little Theatre

When? September 11
Where? Altrincham Little Theatre, 17 Oxford Road, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 2ED
Pre-booking required? No
About: Altrincham Little Theatre is one of the oldest community theatres in England and now hosts professional shows for people of all ages and produces five plays a season. As part of the Heritage Open Days it will be hosting Manchester and Salford Film's Society 92nd birthday celebrations with short films from the North West Film Archive.

Ashton Old Baths

New look Ashton Old Baths

When? September 9 and 14
Where? Ashton Old Baths, Stamford Street West, Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, OL6 7FW
Pre-booking required? Yes
About: The story of Ashton Old Baths begins in Victorian England, where calls for better sanitation led to the construction of vast swimming baths, which opened officially in 1870. The amazing structure wasn't just a place to bathe - in fact, by 1975 when the Baths eventually closed, the building had been reinvented as an orchestra venue, a restaurant, and an indoor tennis court.

Enjoy a tour around this stunning location on either Friday September 9 or Wednesday September 9 and explore the past, present and future of Ashton Old Baths.

The Underbanks Stockport - Inventions of the Underbanks

When? September 17
Where? Winters, 23-27 Little Underbank, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK1 1LA
Pre-booking required? No
Stockport's Old Town is famously home to the Winter's Clock, which has recently undergone a major refurbishment thanks to its new tenants Bistro Marc. On Saturday, 17 September there will be talks from Cumbrian Clock Company - one at 1.30pm and one at 3pm, as well as live music all day from Jazz Duo and Underbank neighbours SK1 Records. There will also be art workshops from midday and a cinema screening of 'A Taste of Honey' at 5pm in St Mary's Church.

Palace Theatre

Palace Theatre Manchester

When? September 16 and 17
Where? Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 6FT
Pre-booking required? Yes
Sometimes referred to as 'the Grand Old Lady of Oxford Street, The Palace Theatre is one of Manchester's oldest and most loved theatres.

At 131 years old, the space is steeped in history, and on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 it will open its doors to visitors looking to explore the Victorian heritage of the space. The tours will be led by one of theatre's Creative Learning team and will delve into the history of the building (including its fabled ghosts). The tour will include access to the spectacular auditorium; a peek at the Royal Box; and other areas of the building not usually open to the public.

Victoria Baths - Big Splash

When? September 9, 10 and 11
Where? Victoria Baths Trust, Hathersage Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 0FE
Pre-booking required? No
Anticipation has been building over the last few weeks ahead of The Big Splash at Victoria Baths, which takes place over three days and will give visitors the chance to experience swimming in one of the nation's most iconic pools, which is being filled to celebrate Heritage Open Days and fundraise for the Grade II listed building.

Tickets for the swimming might have sold out, but there are still lots of other activities to enjoy, with free entry to Victoria Baths throughout the weekend. From 11am to 4pm there are guided building tours, plus the volunteer-run Tea Room will be open and Hip Hop Chip Shop will be on site serving up hearty helpings of its amazing fish and chips (including vegan/veggie options) from their food truck.

Alexandra Park

The large parade made its way around the streets of Moss Side

When? September 11
Where? Chorlton Lodge, Alexandra Park, Moss Side, Greater Manchester, M16 7JL
Pre-booking required? No
In Chorlton Lodge, near Claremont Road entrance, in the park, an exhibition telling the story 50 years of Manchester Carnival will take place, alongside talks, music and poetry. and a talk. The 50th year of the community carnival will be celebrated with an exhibition of photos and memories of park users in Chorlton Lodge for one afternoon only - September 11, from 2pm.

The talk will also be run by local historian Linford Sweeney.

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