Greenwich Peninsula

Open House Festival: London Guide

In this article, you'll learn the following:

If you’re looking for free things to do in London and want to learn more about the city’s architecture, history and culture, then you won’t want to miss the Open House Festival.

Strewn across a variety of quirky and notable neighbourhoods within London, it’s a fantastic opportunity to explore new areas you may have never visited before. Read on to discover more about each area, as well as how to get to each location with South Western Railway.

What is Open House Festival?

Open House Festival is a thrilling, two-week festival celebrating London’s unique architecture, housing and neighbourhoods. During the festival, you’ll get the rare opportunity to access some of the city's most impressive buildings and landscapes-- many of which aren’t usually open to the public.

Open House Festival gives you the chance to learn first-hand about the buildings themselves and the close-knit communities who work, live and care for them. You’ll find guided tours, special events and plenty of activities for children across all locations, making this a great day out for the whole family.

When is Open House Festival?

Open House Festival 2022 takes place between 8 and 21 September and is celebrating its 30th year. Visiting the festival and getting between the various locations is easy when travelling on our network, with regular services to popular London stations including London Waterloo, Vauxhall and Clapham Junction.

Plan your visit to make great savings on your train tickets, and save even more with South Western Railway’s Railcards and discounts. What’s more, our customers can make the most of SWR Rewards to get great deals on hotels, restaurants and attractions in London.

If you’re planning on spending a few days in the city for Open House Festival, why not visit Buckingham Palace State Rooms for an insight into one of the most prestigious buildings in the city?

Best places to visit for Open House Festival

For the 2022 Open House edition, eight neighbourhoods have been selected for public viewing. Residents here are encouraged to open their homes, businesses and community centres or run an event so people can find out more about their community. This year’s chosen locations and opening dates are:

  • Somers Town (9th – 11th September)
  • Cambridge Heath (9th – 11th September)
  • Kennington (9th – 11th September)
  • Shepherd’s Bush (9th – 11th September)
  • Golders Green (16th – 18th September)
  • Tooting (16th – 18th September)
  • South Norwood (16th – 18th September)
  • Greenwich Peninsula (16th – 18th September)

Somers Town

This lesser-known area of north west London has undergone many transformations over the past few centuries, so there’s a unique fusion of architectural styles here. Wandering around Somers Town, you’ll notice modernist buildings like the British Library, the Francis Crick Institute and the Grade II listed Ossulston Estate, contrasted by the historic St. Pancras Old Church and pretty Georgian townhouses.

How to get there: From London Waterloo, take the northbound Northern line to Euston, then walk for just seven minutes to reach Somers Town.

Cambridge Heath

Although quieter than the more popular Bethnal Green, Shoreditch and Hackney, this east London neighbourhood has plenty to offer. With its independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and art galleries, Cambridge Heath is an increasingly popular place to live and boasts a thriving community. Some architectural highlights in this area include the Cambridge Court flats and Bethnal Green Town Hall, now a luxury hotel.

How to get there: Take the northbound Northern line to Tottenham Court Road from London Waterloo, then change for the Central line eastbound to Bethnal Green. Cambridge Heath is a seven-minute walk away.

Kennington

Known best for its park, cricket ground and colourful rows of shops, Kennington is a vibrant community in south London. You’ll also find the Beefeater Gin Distillery, the City and Guilds of London Art School, the Cinema Museum and the Durning Library, making this area an exciting architectural and cultural hub to spend a day exploring.

How to get there: Kennington is a 17-minute walk from Vauxhall. Alternatively, you can take the tube via the Northern line southbound from London Waterloo to Kennington.

Shepherd’s Bush

Situated in west London, Shepherd’s Bush has many significant architectural and cultural spaces, including the Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Bush Hall. In addition, the area around Shepherd’s Bush Green is a conservation area preserving the historic buildings so visitors can enjoy its original character. To discover more of what this neighbourhood has to offer, stroll along Uxbridge Road, Goldhawk Road and Askew Road to find an array of independent shops, pubs and restaurants.

How to get there: From London Waterloo, take the Jubilee line northbound to Bond Street, then change for the Central line westbound to Shepherd’s Bush.

Golders Green

Surrounded by green spaces like Golders Hill Park and Hampstead Heath, this community in north west London is a popular place to live. Taking centre stage is the picturesque high street with independent shops, cafes and restaurants, while there’s also a wealth of culturally significant buildings with unique architectural styles. These include the Golders Green Synagogue, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the Roman Catholic church and the Anglican parish church.

How to get there: Take the Northern line northbound to Golders Green from London Waterloo.

Tooting

Dubbed ‘one of the coolest places to live’ in the city thanks to its many independent shops, restaurants, bars and more affordable housing than other boroughs, Tooting is a London neighbourhood that you don’t want to miss. For culture lovers, there’s the Tooting Arts Club theatre and the award-winning Tooting Market, an architectural gem on the high street.

How to get there: At London Waterloo, take the Northern line southbound to Tooting Broadway.

South Norwood

South Norwood is a quiet, residential area in south London, known for its large country park, scenic lake and vast sports grounds. There are plenty of buildings and attractions that have contributed to the area’s reputation as an up-and-coming cultural hub, including the community garden, theatre school, library and cinema.

How to get there: Take the Jubilee line southbound from London Waterloo to Canada Water, then change for the Overground to Norwood Junction.

Greenwich Peninsula

Overlooking the River Thames, the Greenwich Peninsula sees modern developments like The O2 contrasted with historic buildings like the Old Royal Naval College, making it a unique place to enjoy the city’s cultural attractions and the urban landscape. Although close to the City of London, aptly named Greenwich has plenty of green space, making it a popular place to live.

How to get there: From London Waterloo, take the Jubilee line southbound to North Greenwich.

Looking for more places to discover unique architecture, culture and history? Explore our guide to stately homes in the South West and plan your next day out.

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