Is it drafty in here?

Doors Open Day turns 20

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Is it drafty in here?

As Doors Open Day turns 20, Kirstin Innes looks behind a selection of available portals.

Did you know that, in any given weekend in September this year, it’s possible to gain free, behind-the-scenes access and guided tours to 920 theatres, nightclubs, castles, transport depots, museums and buildings of historic interest across Scotland? The Scottish Civic Trust’s wonderful Doors Open Day project turns 20 this year, with a record number of places across the country to visit. We’ve put together a selection of the most List reader-appropriate tours in Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond.

Glasgow’s Doors Open Day weekend is Saturday 18–Sunday 19 September, and out of all the cities, has the broadest selection of cultural buildings participating. Those of you who missed the original production of David Leddy’s Sub Rosa last year can take this chance to sneak around the spooky shell of a Victorian entertainment palace sitting underneath the modern-day Citizens Theatre, or just wander through the costume racks; there’s also a rare chance to spend sepia-tinted time in the old Britannica Panoptican Music Hall on Argyle Street, famously the site of Stan Laurel’s comedy debut. You can also find out how exactly The Arches manage to a massive nightclub, experimental theatre space and throbbing hive of a bar from the (reportedly haunted) brick structures holding up Central Station, or, coming into the present day, take a proper guided tour round Malcolm Fraser’s gorgeous new headquarters for Scottish Ballet. If that all sounds a bit too indoors for your liking, get some air in your lungs and muck under your nails with the Gates Open Day strand, in which 12 allotment areas around Glasgow open their (you guessed it) gates, for a guided tour into the mysteries of growing. There’s also a chance to look around the great old Govanhill Baths and get involved with the campaign to restore the pool to its former glory.

In Edinburgh, Doors Open Day happens between Saturday 25 –Sunday 26 September, and one of the most interesting sites this year is the newly-refurbished Usher Hall – check out what the strange new glass extension looks like from the inside, and between 10am–1pm on Saturday there’s a chance to sing onstage with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. More lovely Malcolm Fraser architecture on show round at the Scottish Poetry Library, which will be hosting its annual artists’ book fair By Leaves We Live that weekend, while more muck/ghost/foolhardy explorers might be interested in going underground at the Caves, delving into the ancient vaults of Edinburgh’s musty, murky past and learning about the ongoing excavation process.

Elsewhere, you can see behind the curtain at the Aberdeen Masonic Hall, with actual masons, guiding the tours, or check out an Invernessian WW2 bunker. Possibly the most exciting (certainly the most patriotic) Open Door is Cumbernauld’s Irn Bru Factory (Sat 11–Sun 12 Sep). Unsurprisingly, all the tours are already booked out, but look out for ticket giveaways for that one on the Doors Open Day website, where you can find information about every one of the 920 open doors: www.doorsopendays.org.uk

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