Bristol Open Doors is back on 13 – 15 September, handing over the keys to some of Bristol’s most popular attractions as well as hidden and forgotten spaces. Produced by The Architecture Centre as part of nationwide Heritage Open Days, this is the one weekend of the year where you can gain unique behind-the-scenes access and one-off experiences at landmarks across the city.

We’ve listed a handful of the fascinating places you have the chance to explore, from a former Victorian mental hospital to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. With spaces for ticketed events filling up fast, don’t delay reserving yours.

Collection and Conservation Tour at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery houses 19 galleries over three floors – but what goes on behind the public displays? Find out on a drop-in tour where you get a peek at the collection stores and conservation laboratories. As well as discovering what it takes to curate dynamic exhibitions, this is a chance to learn more about the beautiful Edwardian Baroque building the museum is based in.

Gallery in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Image credit: John Seaman 

Underfall Yard Victorian Workshop Tours

Described as a ‘time capsule’, the Victorian workshop is a lesser-known part to Underfall Yard, a working boat yard with a visitor centre on the Harbourside. Join a tour and you’ll get a glimpse of this little piece of Victorian Bristol, with its forges, machines and line shafting dating back to the 1880s. Amazingly, these are still used as part of the city’s dock maintenance today.

There are tours at multiple times during the Saturday and Sunday, but you must book in advance.

Workshop at Underfall Yard

Image credit: Underfall Yard 

Open house and activities at Glenside Hospital Museum

Glenside Hospital Museum is based in the chapel within the grounds of the UWE Glenside Campus in Fishponds, a grand Grade II listed Victorian building, once a mental health hospital, with 1100 beds. The Museum covers three hospital stories, that of Stoke Park the yellow house on the hill, Beaufort War Hospital when the war office took over the asylum and the psychiatric hospital on how the treatment of mental health developed from the 1860s to the late 20th century.

For Bristol Open Doors, the museum is putting on three open days. Drop in to discover the history, curious artefacts and photographs on display, along with family-friendly activities such as designing postcards and an outdoor trail. A Victorian medical superintendent, a wounded First World War soldier, and a 1960s nurse will all be waiting to greet you.

Open house, tours and art exhibition at Clifton Suspension Bridge

Maintaining one of the city’s most iconic landmarks is no easy feat and a team of experts work hard on ensuring Clifton Suspension Bridge remains a glorious part of the Bristol skyline. Hourly talks in the Maintenance Workshop on Saturday during Bristol Open Doors will delve into bridge preservation and what the Bridge Engineers do to keep it in tip-top condition.

The bridge will be turned into a ‘suspended museum’ for the day, dotted with interesting facts and figures with sound installations in the Visitor Centre and a painting exhibition in the Education Workshop too.

Hot air balloons flying over Clifton Suspension Bridge

Image credit: Gary Newman 

Engineering and Architecture Bus Tour: From the Upper Deck

Bristol Insight are taking a break from their usual tours for two days of trips dedicated to spotting some of the most incredible engineering and architecture in the city. With an unbeatable angle aboard the open top deck, set your sights on buildings and structures you might never have noticed before. Booking is essential!

People on the Bristol Insight open top bus tour

Image credit: Bristol Insight 

Building Brabazon: From Concorde to Concerts

This was a sold-out event but extra tickets have been made available, at various times on Friday 13 September. So, you still have a chance to see the cavernous Brabazon hangars before their transformation into a new arena and neighbourhood.

Based at Filton Airfield in north Bristol, a coach tour will take you on to the hangars and around 380 acres of aviation history. Along the way learn about the site’s innovative aviation history, including the story of Concorde and supersonic travel, as well as looking ahead to future plans.

To discover even more about Bristol’s aerospace heritage and step aboard the last ever Concorde to fly, a trip to nearby Aerospace Bristol is a must.

See all of the Bristol Open Doors events and check which still have availability on their What's On page.

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