Take 5 with the team

It's been a busy month for the team at HODs HQ, we've built a castle in Swindon, learnt a lot in Oxford, ridden a vintage bus in Northampton, taken tea in Canterbury, and something else, now what was it, oh yes... OPENED REGISTRATION for this year's festival! Exciting times! Grab a cuppa and let me fill you in...

I've been on the road this month to see some of our fantastic local organisers and volunteers. Here's one of the beautiful buses from Northampton that took us on a tour of the town.

1. Castle building in Swindon

Our castle sits in the Heelis entrance way enticing visitors to explore the different sides of Heritage Open Days and the impact it has.

The National Trust has a central office in Swindon, known as 'Heelis'. This has a cafe and shop alongside its public reception area, and this year we were allowed to set up our HODs 'castle' as a point of interest. The 'castle' is an amazing paper sculpture desigend by Ian Kirkpatrick, with replaceable panels, so we can update it each year with our new statistics. It's a fun way to bring news of our fab festival and the impact it has to people's attention. If you're in the town in the next couple of weeks, do stop off and see it! 

2. Inspiration seeking in Oxford

St Hugh's College in Oxford hosted the inspirational 'Women & Power' conference, its action packed programme reporting back on last year's activity across the heritage and academic sector and asking questions about what more can be done. It was great to see HODs work on Extraordinary Women as part of the discussion, and to learn about many, many other fascinating and inspiring projects, including: The Royal Collections 'Women Photographers Trail' and Pitt Rivers Museum's Multaka-Oxford project.

3. Celebrating volunteers in Northampton

Buses, tours and a catwalk show (with cake)

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage & Tourism and the Mayor cut the cake in the stunning Northampton Guildhall.

Inspired by our 25th anniversary celebrations Northampton Transport Heritage and the Borough Council organised a special day to celebrate the amazing volunteers who work so hard to pull Heritage Open Days together in the town. It included a vintage bus trip, a tour of the spectacular Guildhall and a special fashion show charting 100 years of Northampton history. It was an inspiring occasion and I was delighted to be part of the celebrations - we can never thank our volunteers enough for all that they do.

4. Celebrating volunteers in Canterbury

Tea at Tower House (with scones)

Butter was added to the mix for the tricky question of how do you take your scones at Canterbury's Volunteer reception - jam or cream first?

Canterbury Civic Society also held a special event for local organisers with a special afternoon tea at the beautiful Tower House. Alex and I travelled down to meet them and again underline just how important each volunteer is to the wider festival programme and our sector. We raised a glass of bubbles to all of you.

5. Opening the gates to fill the festival line up!

Of course the biggest news of the month is that registration is now OPEN! And we already have over 200 events subitted for this year's festival. Details will start to be published on our event directory from June, and you can register your events until 1 August. If you're not quite sure what it's all about, are looking for some inspiration, or just want to connect with other organisers then do join us at one of our regional organiser days.