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Festival Review 2021

Confidence and momentum built throughout the year ending with 1,528 local organisers creating 3,866 fantastic events, even though we started registration in full lockdown. This year's festival feedback reveals visitors are appreciating an increasingly diverse programme, enjoying and looking to learn new things about their places and feeling more part of their communities. 

While many people appreciated the opportunity to return to in-person events, 10% of the programme included a digital element. Alongside inspiration for new stories from our national theme, the digital platform offers more avenues for people to engage with our heritage, so the hybrid festival is definitely here to stay.

  • 1,528 organisers + 33,100 volunteers
  • 3,445 in person events + 421 online events
  • 730 events were inspired by the national Edible England theme 
  • 738,000 visits

Local organisers 2021


Broadening horizons

  • 34% visitors attended to learn or experience something new, another 13% were exploring a particular topic of interest
  • 80% visitors said attending made them more proud of their local area
  • 70% visitors said it was a great way of bringing different people within the community together
  • 32% of visitors were from a lower socio-economic background

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Working in partnership

  • 6 Sound Walks offering a new perspective on local high streets were launched over the festival. Commissioned by Historic England and co-created with the local communities by Sound UK, these unique pieces continue to be available to download and enjoy. 
  • 18 organisers created 27 innovative events as part of the New Wave training programme pilot. Created in collaboration with young adults the events included interactive workshops, escape rooms, museum lates, and an outdoor cinema.

Local festival snapshots

Swindon Borough Council

Swindon's Heritage Action Zone emerged as a new festival hub. A range of local groups worked together to bring a real buzz back to the town.

Friends of Wombwell Cemetery

The Friends of Wombwell Cemetery in South Yorkshire organised one of the year's most popular press highlights. Inspired by Edible England their 'Cemetreats & Funeral Feasts' shone a light on Victorian picnic traditions and soulful recipes.

Regency Town House

The Regency Cook at Brighton's Regency Town House was featured in a full page interview in the 'i' after planning a brilliant interactive online workshop to explore the history of the English pudding. It went on to attract over 400 participants from across the globe!

Bowes Railway Company

Bowes Railway Company in Tyne & Wear created a new community allotment in 3 months. Bringing in a new audience to engage with this industrial heritage site in a different way.

A big thank you

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in and contributed to our wonderful festival. Whether by visiting, volunteering, or planning and promoting. Every cup of tea poured, form filled in, poster put up, or story exchanged has made a difference.  THANK YOU and see you next year!

What will you discover? HODs returns 9-18 September 2022

Save the date! HODs will be back next year: 9-18 September 2022

Find out more