CADW is giving people the chance to explore some of Wales' magnificent castles without having to leave the sofa.

Every year Cadw offers visitors free entry to hundreds of historic monuments, museums and unusual landscapes during the month of September, but due to the coronavirus this year's event has been cancelled.

Determined to offer an alternative, Cadw's open doors online festival will enable thousands of people to virtually explore and discover ten of Wales' most spectacular historic sites.

The online virtual event runs from September 1-30.

It includes the iconic fairytale castle, Castell Coch and Unesco World Heritage site, Harlech Castle.

To access the online festival click here

From interactive, virtual site tours to immersive panoramic experiences, the free online festival will be hosted on Cadw’s website and social media channels, with members of the public invited to access each digital experience on desktop computers, tablets, mobile phones or through the use of VR headsets.

Created by Cardiff-based virtual-reality experts, 4Pi Productions, the experience-driven content makes use of 360 degree photography and scanning technology, which will allow users to control their journey around each virtual monument or historic site.

The festival’s digital experiences will be released weekly on Cadw’s website and social media channels, following four core themes: Neolithic Tombs (Tuesday, September 1 – Sunday, September 6), Castles of the South (Monday, September 7 – Sunday, September 13), Abbeys and Ironworks (Monday, September 14 – Sunday, September 20) and Castles of the North (Monday, September 21 – Wednesday, September 30).

South Wales Guardian: Harlech Castle Picture: CadwHarlech Castle Picture: Cadw

Although some staffed Cadw sites have now re-opened, visitor capacities are limited and many properties remain closed — pending the installation of new health and safety measures.

Artistic Director of 4Pi Productions, Matt Wright, said: “Having previously collaborated with Cadw on a number of successful digital projects, we were delighted to help them create their own virtual and readily-accessible virtual Open Doors festival for 2020."

Deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “While we always look forward to giving thousands of people the chance to visit Wales’s iconic monuments and hidden gems for free each year, it would be irresponsible and impractical for us to facilitate a physical event of this nature within the current climate — with strict limitations on visitor numbers currently in place at heritage sites across the country.

“That being said, Cadw are determined to keep the essence of annual and ever-popular festival alive during these uncertain times, by offering people the unique opportunity to explore and discover ten spectacular Cadw sites online."