It is 30 years since the first Doors Open Days were held in Scotland as part of the European City of Culture celebrations.
Every year since, the country’s largest free festival celebrating our heritage and built environment has grown.
Here in Fife, the council co-ordinates one of the largest programmes in the country.
This year, more than 60 venues are taking part across three weekends – covering East Fife on Sunday, September 1; central Fife on Sunday, September 8 and west Fife on Sunday, September 15.
Steve Liscoe, the council’s Doors Open Days co-ordinator, said: “This year will see the most open doors for the event over the three weekends it is taking place in Fife.
“With a few later additions to the programme, there will be a total of 65 venues open for the public to visit during September.
“Several have not taken part in Doors Open Days for a couple of years and have rejoined the programme.
“This year the number has also been boosted by additional buildings that are taking part as new venues this year.”
With such a vast range of buildings to visit, it makes sound sense for the council to split the programme into three geographic areas.
However, Steve stressed that it’s best to book in advance, particularly for popular tours.
He said: “The most popular venue is always the 1940s House in Cupar; visits can only be made on a pre booked tour to control the number of visitors.
“This is a pre-war private home which has had its interior décor sympathetically restored to create a typical home of the 1940s, complete with fittings, furnishings and appliances.
“A visit here is like stepping back in time.”
However, there are plenty of other highlights on the 2019 Doors Open Days programme, which is available in brochure form from a host of council venues across Fife, as well as being detailed on the website www.doorsopendays.org.uk.
Steve added: “The venues opening range from the oldest lighthouse in Scotland – involving a trip to an offshore island – through churches, civic buildings, ancient coastal caves, environmentally sustainable buildings to private homes.
“One such example is Northfield at Colinsburgh which houses a fascinating collection of the family’s genealogical history and artefacts that encompass Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the East India Company.
“It’s difficult to choose the highlights as each weekend offers visitors a chance to see inside some incredible buildings.
“And around 20 of this year’s Doors Open venues will be allowing visitors to see inside buildings which are normally not open to the public.”
To celebrate the 30th anniversary, several Fife venues were also granted funds by the Scottish Civic Trust’s Back for Good scheme to make their visitor experiences better.
They included the Fife Heritage Railway in Leven, Burntisland Heritage Trust, the Scottish Lime Centre in Charlestown and Coastwatch St Monan’s – all of which will be taking part this year.
Other highlights on the 2019 programme include
September 1, East Fife
Byre Theatre, Martyr Kirk Thomson Reading Room, Parliament Hall and Senate Room and King James Library, St Andrews; Isle of May pleasure cruises on both the Saturday and Sunday; the 1940s House in Cupar and new for this year, Cults Kirk in Cupar, a well preserved, B-listed 18th century Presbyterian Church in a beautiful location.
September 8, Central Fife
Merchant’s House, St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church, Adam Smith Heritage Centre, Old Kirk, and sheriff court in Kirkcaldy; the heritage trust and parish church in Burntisland; St Drostans at Markinch; the kirk and Finglassen’s Well in Kinglassie; Monimail Tower and new for this year, Levenmouth Academy.
September 15, West Fife
The Forth Bridge Heritage Centre; the Town House, Parish Church and Friary in Inverkeithing; Saline and District Heritage Society Museum and Saline Church; the Scottish Lime Centre in Charlestown; Carnegie Hall, library and galleries in Dunfermline and Oakley’s Holy Name Church.
For those who want to explore further afield, a host of venues will be throwing their doors open every weekend during September.
To discover buildings that are opening near you, and new places to explore across Scotland, visit www.doorsopendays.org.uk.