Oxford Open Doors returns on Saturday and Sunday, September 9-10, and this year’s theme of ‘Everyday Oxford’ will be a chance to discover all the wonders of everyday life in the city throughout the ages.
Oxford Preservation Trust has worked with local partners to organise a programme of free family activities, exhibitions, tours and talks. More than 110 doors will also be ‘opening’ for free, allowing visitors to enjoy local heritage which sometimes feels hidden to the public day-to-day.
The weekend will once again be a celebration of all things Oxford – its people, places, heritage, community, culture, science and research – and, as ever, Oxford University and its Colleges are joining in with numerous activities and openings.
Each year we put together a mix of the old favourites and lots of new places and ideas
Oxford Preservation Trust Director, Debbie Dance
Among the colleges offering a warm welcome will be Corpus Christi, University, Magdalen, Wadham, St John’s, Balliol, Worcester, All Souls and Exeter, including opportunities to enjoy tours, exhibitions and music.
Throughout the city, families can discover the treasures of the 26 Bodleian Libraries with a special A to Z of the Bodleian Libraries programme (Saturday, 10:30-15:30).
During Oxford Open Doors, visitors will also have an opportunity to see how construction of the Schwarzman Centre for Humanities is progressing – the largest building project ever undertaken by Oxford University. Due to be operational from October 2025, several facilities in the building will be open to the public and the Centre will host a cultural programme of performances, exhibitions and events open to all.
Other University highlights include:
- Examination Schools: Do a self-guided tour or book onto a guided tour to learn more about the architecture, history and use of this beautiful building (Saturday, 09:00-17:00).
- Taylor Institution Library: Guided tours of the library every half hour from 10:00-15:00 (Saturday).
- Magdalen College: TE Lawrence exhibition will be open to visitors in the Old Library (Sunday, 11:00-15:00): Lawrence in Fragments: Recovering Lawrence of Arabia through the Jeremy Wilson Archive.
- Divinity School: Explore inside the stunning Divinity School, the University of Oxford's oldest purpose-built teaching and examination room (Sunday, 11:00-16:00).
- Oxford University Parks: The Park’s team will be offering a number of activities and opportunities for visitors of all ages to get a more in-depth look at the Parks and how it is run (both days).
- Wytham Woods Walk: A 2.5-hour walk with Dr Keith Kirby, who will provide an overview of the history, science and ecology of this world-famous site. Spaces limited, registration required, here.
Find out more about the event in a video by the Oxford Preservation Trust:
Something for everybody
Elsewhere, family activities will include a silk-screen printing workshop, customising old shirts with graffiti designs of iconic Oxford places, aimed at people aged 18-25. The Rewley Road Fire Station will also offer family fun throughout the weekend.
On the Sunday, Oxford Castle and Prison will be opening free of charge all day. Nina Urai from the Oxford Preservation Trust explained there will be lots to do in and around the castle and prison this year.
She said: ‘The Oxford Preservation Trust team will be there all weekend, alongside Oxford Archaeology, the Historic Towns Trust, and local stone carvers displaying their craft. With music and classic cars added to the mix, there is something for everybody. You can climb the mound all weekend, or step inside 1,000 years of history on Sunday when Oxford Castle and Prison will be offering free tours.
‘We were delighted to welcome over 20,000 visitors to Oxford Open Doors last year. With over 120 events and venue openings this year, we are expecting even more visitors to attend this year. Oxford Open Doors is a unique opportunity to discover and celebrate history and heritage across all walks of the city's life and has grown into a firm favourite in the Oxford calendar over the last 16 years.’
Oxford Open Doors will continue to offer virtual lectures this year alongside in-person events to increase participation and access.
Oxford Preservation Trust Director, Debbie Dance, who launched the event in 2007, added: ‘We are grateful to the University of Oxford for their particular support and to all the many places and people, and all the volunteers, who make the weekend happen. Each year we put together a mix of the old favourites and lots of new places and ideas, and this year is stronger than ever with lots to entice families and young people and so much to share in the generous opening up of our international award-winning science labs and local energy-saving homes.’