If you have never been, Doors Open Day is when lots of buildings that are normally not open to the general public invite people to wander in and have a look around these normally out of bounds places. Meanwhile some places that might be regularly open to the general public offer something different than the usual, often with tea, coffee and tours on offer. The buildings open range from schools and churches to fire stations and courts.
Aberdeen’s Doors Open Day this year is the 7th of September. You can find the full programme here. All the buildings are free to visit and are generally open between 10am and 4pm. If you are travelling across town to different parts of the city, there is a free shuttle bus service from the city centre to the University of Aberdeen, stopping off at Foresterhill along the way.
While Aberdeen is blessed with many beautiful and historic churches, the last time I did Doors Open Day I was very church-ed by the end of it. This year I have decided to focus on the many other unusual places in Aberdeen.
1. Aberdeen Sheriff Court
Although the courts are open to the general public, visiting the cells is a “privilege” reserved only for a few. This is one for the ‘gram, with a chance to try on lawyers’ gowns and, at the other end of the scale, prisoners’ handcuffs. There are also 30-minute tours, giving you a chance to hear about the history of the building and to learn how the courts work.
2. Advocates Library
Just around the corner from the court is something truly special: this 1870 library is normally only ever open to members of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, which is a professional body for solicitors in the city. The organisation dates back to at least the eighteenth century and over the years they have amassed an impressive library.
3. North East Scotland College
New to the Doors Open Day programme this year, NESC is opening its doors to let visitors see around its purpose-built facilities, including the hair and beauty department and training restaurant. While I balk slightly at going on a two-hour tour of the place, I am tempted by getting to see the planetarium which made a real impression on my eight-year-old mind the last time I visited.
4. Cruikshank Botanic Garden
This Doors Open Day attraction comes recommended by someone on my weekend tour. While the Botanic Garden is open to the public, it is often overlooked. Get a new perspective on the garden by going on a tour with Curator Mark Paterson at 11am or 1pm. No need to book.
What are you most looking forward to visiting on Doors Open Day? Let me know your recommendations in the comments or on our Facebook page.