Discover More: Heritage Open Days Returns

Annual festival of people, places and community is open for registrations 

England’s largest festival of history and culture will return in September and this year, support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery means as well as experiencing local events, visitors can participate in activities much further afield and see even more hidden places. For the first time, the Heritage Open Days (HODs) programme will comprise a mix of in-person and digital events; communities will be able to celebrate the stories of the places and spaces that are important to them while staying safe and adhering to current social distancing measures.

Every year around 50,000 volunteers give their time and effort to help create the largest cultural grassroots festival in the country. Last year 5,700 events were organised which welcomed more than 2.4 million visitors. This autumn, some venues and outdoor spaces will open for pre-booked events and visits by small groups, while others will offer virtual tours and digital experiences.

Annie Reilly, Head of Producing, said: “Heritage Open Days is about connecting people so we can share in the amazing stories of the places, spaces, nature, heritage and history around us. The last few months have shown us how online events can bring us together even when we have to remain apart. “We have seen some ingenious approaches to culture going digital, from virtual tours and online galleries to up-close explorations of artefacts and objects, through to workshops and live-streamed debates. We’re excited by the potential for HODs, not least of all because so many more people will be able to experience the festival regardless of where they are in the country.”

Sue Skipper, a HODs event organiser from Norwich, said: “For somewhere like the Britons Arms, the current restrictions mean it would be almost impossible to do our usual tour. The prospect of a digital tour sounds fun and something we would like to be able to offer.”

This year’s theme is Hidden Nature, which offers an opportunity to discover the nature that exists on our doorsteps, as well as the built heritage. Areas of the countryside that aren’t normally accessible to the public will be opened up and events will reveal the hidden history of not just our natural landscapes, but also gardens, green spaces, urban parks, orchards, vineyards, farms and forests.

Annie Reilly said: “Over the last couple of months, with time outdoors being limited, access to nature has become even more important to many of us and HODs will give us all something to look forward to. From socially distanced ‘netwalking’ and rural rambles, to nature-inspired art collections, scavenger hunts, food and craft events – we’re excited to see how the theme of ‘Hidden Nature’ is interpreted and used to create exciting online and offline events and activities.”

Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.

Download the full press release here