What to See at the Open House London Festival 2024

Do you love peeking behind closed doors? Then Open House is for you. Set aside some time between 14 – 22 September 2024. You just need to decide what to see at Open House London Festival. The full schedule is not available until 18 July 2024. There is a lot to choose from and planning is half the fun.

What is Open House London?

London Open House Festival is when buildings across London open their doors to the public for free. It is the biggest architectural festival in the world. Some of those buildings are open ordinarily but either you’ll get in free where you usually have to pay or you’ll parts of the building that are normally out of bounds. Open House London runs from 14 – 22 September 2024.

How does Open House work?

Entry to every building is free. Some you need to book, others you just turn up. Take a look Open House London website for inspiration and full details. In addition to exploring the inside of buildings there are guided and self guided walks and cycle routes to admire architecture from the outside.

What to see at London Open House that needs booking

Every year a few places need booking, here are my highlights

The Charterhouse

Black Death burial ground, monastery, Tudor mansion, Almshouse and School; the Charterhouse has a long and fascinating history with interiors to match. 

Lancaster House

Lancaster House is the Palace next door to Buckingham Palace.  It was originally built for the Duke of York, then it became the home of the Duke of Sutherland.  In 1913 Lord Leverhulme bought the lease for the nation and  renamed it Lancaster House.  Since then it has been home to the Museum of London and is now a swanky government conference venue.  Lancaster House is also a bit of star with roles with Downton Abbey, The Crown and Bridgerton to name a few.

Reform Club

Have you ever fancied seeing inside one of the Pall Mall clubs?  The Reform Club is throwing open its doors

What to see at London Open House without booking

Not everywhere needs pre-booking but do be prepared for queues.

Argentine Ambassador’s Residence

If you’ve ever wanted to see if an Ambassador’s house really is awash with piles of Ferreo Rocher then visiting the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence on Belgrave Square is for you.

Banqueting House

Quite simply one of the most incredible rooms anywhere.  All that is left of the Palace of Whitehall with a ceiling by Rubens. King Charles I walked out of here to meet his executioner.

Fitzrovia Chapel

Golden mosaic covered interior with stained glass windows Fitzrovia Chapel London
Fitzrovia Chapel London

The Fitzrovia Chapel is a tiny jewel box of building. It looks like nothing from the outside but inside it glows with with gold mosaics. Visit and gawp. Expect long queues.

Romanian Cultural Institute

If you’ve ever wanted to see what one of the grand mansions in Belgrave Square look like inside then head for the Romanian Cultural Institute. They always have a fascinating display of Romanian art and craft as well. Open 9 – 10 September

Royal Society

The Royal Society is housed in a row of John Nash houses on Carlton House Terrace overlooking the Mall and is home to the cream of Britain’s scientific community.

Have you explored London Open House? Where did you go? And where will you go this year?

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19 Comments

  1. Julie Cordiner
    August 21, 2019 / 10:38 pm

    Wow, thank you for this, Catherine – it’s a complete revelation! Too late for this year as we have a holiday around then, but will definitely explore it for next year and book some cheap advance train tickets.

    • August 21, 2019 / 10:52 pm

      There is a similar thing nationwide called Heritage Open Days which runs September 13-22

  2. September 6, 2019 / 10:54 am

    I’ve never heard of Open House London – what a great idea. I’d also love to get inside Number 10 (to visit, not the job!!). The Foreign and Commonwealth Office would also be very interesting. #culturalwednesdays

  3. September 6, 2019 / 11:13 am

    I fancy City Hall and the Argentinian Ambassador’s Residence. I am pleased to say I have been to most of the others on your list and they are all fantastic! #CULTUREDKIDS

  4. September 6, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    We love the Open House Weekend and thrilled to be around this year! Last year we loved tge Argentine Embassy and Royal Court of Justice playing judges, this year still debating 🙂 such a brilliant weekend for London based & visiting #culturedkids!

  5. September 7, 2019 / 4:18 pm

    I love Open House London. I am a bit nosey! But it’s also a great way to see some real hidden gems of London.

  6. September 9, 2019 / 11:55 am

    Open House is such a brilliant scheme and I’ve visited Tooting Bingo hall as a result! I now really fancy Johnson’s house. As ever, a really informative post #culturedkids

    • September 9, 2019 / 12:15 pm

      Those 1930s Bingo Halls are amazing

  7. September 10, 2019 / 11:56 am

    I love open days, the chance to see behind the scenes is perfect for someone as nosy as me. Sad I won’t be in London for it because all of those look epic. #culturedkids

    • September 10, 2019 / 4:48 pm

      I think the Norwich one is a week earlier

  8. September 10, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    I’m also crossing everything for the ballots, although BT Tower is top of my wishlist (I’ll take No 10 if they offer it to me, of course!) The Museum of London is offering hard hat tours around its future site, in West Smithfield. It’s a derelict Victorian market building, and it’s expected to be a popular event (I work there so no busman’s holiday for me!). I think the National Army Museum has a family friendly event for that weekend, build your own museum from planks of wood, and make things to display in it! #CulturedKids

  9. Clare Thomson
    September 12, 2019 / 3:01 pm

    I’ve been meaning to go for ages so this is very timely, apart from for the ballots which have unfortunately all already closed. Do you know when the ballots open? I’d love to see Downing Street and The Shard one day – although preferably not when the current incumbent is still there (!) Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • September 12, 2019 / 7:35 pm

      They usually open a month before the Open House weekend and are open for about three weeks

  10. September 12, 2019 / 4:52 pm

    I love a good nosy and there sounds like so much good stuff to see! I’ve always fancied visiting Strawberry Hill House. #farawayfiles

    • September 12, 2019 / 7:35 pm

      Strawberry Hill Housd is awesome

  11. September 12, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    I love the open house, usually I am volunteering on those days. I had no idea about 10 Downing Street being on the list, I am going to join in the ballot from next year. Thanks Catherine for this lovely list. #culturedkids.

  12. September 13, 2019 / 1:45 pm

    I’m quite ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of ‘Open House London’ it’s a fantastic way to encourage people to discover more of their local area. Thanks very much for sharing this, I’m going to take a look at the places available. #farawayfiles

  13. September 13, 2019 / 11:11 pm

    This is a great guide Catherine. We definitely have it in the diary for next weekend and think we might just choose and area and see where it takes us. #farawayfiles

    • September 13, 2019 / 11:16 pm

      Give me a shout if you are around St James on Sunday

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