The annual Open House festival gives curious Londoners the chance to pull out their best Loyd Grossman impression and go through the keyhole (and through the doors) of some of the capital’s biggest, most renowned and most secretive addresses for free. Normally, it takes place over a single weekend and involves some very long queues, but in 2022, as the fest turns 30, the organisers are stretching it out over two weeks and planning lots of extra-special surprises for the occasion. That’s a whole lot of top-grade snooping.
What is Open House London?
A huge festival dedicated to making the capital’s architectural spaces accessible to all. It allows entry to private homes, government buildings and historic sites that are normally closed to the public and just waiting to be explored. Some of the buildings offer free half-hourly tours, others are simply open to walk-in visitors. It’s the largest event of its kind in the world and features walks, talks and tours as well as the chance to nose around intriguing London places you’d never usually get to enter.
When is Open House London?
The 2022 edition will take place over two weeks, September 8-21.
Where is Open House London?
Hundreds of buildings across all London’s 32 boroughs, plus the City of London, will be taking part. It’s a vast sprawl, so you’ll need to dedicate some time to planning what you’d like to see. If you want to visit multiple locations, check the Open House website in advance for details. Open House is extremely popular, so even if the sites you have in mind are apparently obscure, you can expect to queue.
How much does Open House London cost?
Brilliantly, it’s all free. Check each listing carefully on the Open House website before you set off, as some require advanced booking. Entry to very famous sites like 10 Downing Street and New Scotland Yard are allocated via a ballot. For others, just wear your most comfortable shoes and turn up on the day.
What’s new for Open House London’s thirtieth anniversary?
To mark three decades of the festival, Open House is putting on some special surprises for its big anniversary this year. There’ll be tours of buildings never opened to the public before, gigs in unique, hidden spaces and the publication of a new book looking at the city’s food culture, ‘London Feeds Itself’. For the first time, there’ll be specially curated programmes of free events in nine headline neighbourhoods: Aldgate, East Ham, Greenwich Peninsula, South Tottenham, Somers Town, Battersea, Walworth, Shepherd’s Bush and Cambridge Heath. Sofar Sounds will be curating performances at the Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross and DJ sets in Bexley’s Old Library.
There’ll also be an exciting number of private homes that will be part of the thirtieth anniversary festival from multi-million-pound houses designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects to council estates.
Explore the full Open House London 2022 programme here.
Find more brilliant London events taking place in September.