FOR the organisers of the annual Winchester Heritage Open days the aim is quite simple - to make local people become tourists in their own city, and to treasure the treasures on their doorstep.

The intention is encourage their home city with fresh eyes.

The days have been running for 25 years and are the programme that celebrates local history is bigger than ever.

There are more than 140 events over 10 days between Friday September 13 and Sunday September 22, making it now the country's largest heritage festival. And everything is free, although some need to be booked.

There will be guided tours, expert talks, live music and theatre with the themes this year of food and drink and People Power.

Just turn up to a celebration of Hampshire Treasures at the Great Hall on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15; Alresford Eel House on Sunday September 15; Winchester College Treasury, September 19-22, Winchester Cathedral on evening, Thursday September 19.

The events that need to be booked include on Saturday September 14 and 21st: Steve Jarvis talks on Winchester through postcards and local World War One and World War Two memorials; a guided walk with architect Huw Thomas on Peninsula Barracks that he helped to save; on Friday September 20a tour of the award-winning Winchester University Chapel with Design Engine Architects.

TV presenter Alastair Stewart (September 20) and Jane Devonshire, Masterchef winner, (September 21) are giving talks, but both had sold out.

Also this year the City of Winchester Trust, the city's preservation watchdogs who help with the festival, are holding an exhibition at the Heritage Centre on Upper Brook Street. The theme is Winchester's Conservation Area looking at the diverse buildings in the city centre.

A special fundraising event is being held on Thursday September 12 at the Discovery Centre on Jewry Street. Prof Martin Biddle, the eminent archaeologist, will give a talk on why the Anglo-Saxons built a church in the middle of Winchester in the seventh century, then a ruined Roman city. Tickets cost £14 and are available from

Prof Biddle led several hugely important archaeological digs in the city between the 1960s and the 1980s and is still involved as an advisor for the Central Winchester Regeneration, also known as Silver Hill.