Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country’s largest heritage festival.

European roots

In 1991 the Council of Europe and the European Commission set up European Heritage Days to raise appreciation for Europe’s rich and diverse cultural assets and their need for care and protection. The central principle was as simple as it was compelling: to throw open the doors to historic monuments and buildings, in particular those normally closed to the public. Today, they are held annually in September in 50 signatory states to the European Cultural Convention. Each country running it in their own way, the festival not only highlights the dazzling diversity of Europe’s heritage, but also its intercultural links. 

Anniversary celebrations

2014 marked the 20th anniversary of Heritage Open Days and a special reception was held at The Freemason's Hall, London.  The evening celebrated the programme and recognised some of the amazing people and organisations that help make it happen across the country. Check out our Videos page for footage from the night as well as two special creative celebrations of the festival produced in collaboration with Met Film: Road Trip and Happy Birthday HODs.

Joint venture

As the cross-sector working that has led the programme to flourish continues we look forward to many more years of doorstep discoveries.