Festival Review 2022

Once again our festival experienced a year like no other, coinciding with 10 days of national mourning for her Majesty the Queen. As a community event we went ahead with the deepest respect for her memory, bringing people together to share memories, stories and places. The resulting feedback has been truely heartwarming as visitors continually praise the local volunteers and staff who helped them connect with their places and learn new things.

mosaic of photographs from the festival including gardens, stained glass, pottery crafts and inviting doorways.

This year 2,150 organisers, c.100 coordinators, and 43,500 volunteers put on 4,945 events* attracting 1 million visits. Together they made a valuable difference to their communities and the heritage sector as a whole.

Mosaic of visitor quotes in speech bubbles next to photograph of people in an auditorium listening to a tour. Quote example: Wonderful experience. Friendly knowledgeable staff. Blew my socks off!

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Making a difference

  • Boost to the economy:  £11.6 million added to local economies
  • Building community pride: 80% of visitors feel more proud of their local area after attending a festival event
  • Providing a gateway to the sector: c.1/3 visitors had not visited a heritage site/event in the past year while 2/3 report that from visiting Heritage Open Days events in previous years they have gone on to visit more heritage sites/events

Encouraging new stories

Each year we promote a theme to encourage new stories - 623 events were inspired by this year's national theme of 'Astounding Inventions'. Alongside a planning resource pack  for organisers and the festival spotlight of their events, we also published a series of popular blog posts highlighting astounding inventions from the worlds of engineering, archaeology, medicine and gardening to share more stories.

Mosaic image featuring: latin verse machine, a Georgian lamppost, Astounding Inventions logo, and organiser quote: We gained new volunteers and supporters.

From the everyday to the extraordinary, we found astounding inventions are everywhere! / © Arnhel De Serra / HODs 2022

  • The Gas Man cometh: Beverley Civic Society once again took up the research challenge... and came up trumps with the discovery that their beautiful street lamps are possibly the oldest still standing in situ in the world! A guided walk helped locals see their town in a new light. While the research itself has helped Beverley hit the headlines, from regional radio to a letter in The Times!
  • Speak in verse: The Alfred Gillett Trust were on to a winner with a very curious invention in their collection. The unique latin verse machine provided a focal point for their event which helped them reach a new audience.

Working in partnership

Photograph of a conservator showing a family items on a stall in a yard. Alongside an image of speech bubble quote saying: Children and young people asked lots of questions and gained a positive first experience of archaeology and conservation.

At National Trust's Stowe Estate an archaeologist and conservator worked together with the property team on a pop-up stall to great success

Conservation Stations: Following a conversation at a conference we have been delighted to work with Icon (Institute of Conservation) this year to raise awareness of the work of conservators, particularly through matching local sites with experts and encouraging cross-team working. 46 events with a conservation focus were registered for the festival creating interesting new offers for visitors and providing a valuable promotional platform for individual conservators and the work of the profession.

Mosaic of photographs surrounding the New Wave logo. Images include archways, surgical art illustration, a woman doing yoga in a garden, and a person silhouetted against a starry sky

From 'Crime unlocked' in Berwick-upon-Tweed to 'Art + Surgery' in Exeter, the New Wave programme is always full of great collaborations.

New Wave: 10 local organisers from across England completed the New Wave training programme, working with young adults to plan events. Whilst not all were able to go ahead due to the unprecedented circumstances of this year’s festival, when the group came together for their final review session there was much learning and JOY to share, with exciting plans for the future!

Organiser quote: It really brought together people from different areas of interest, different backgrounds and, importantly, very local people who had never ever visited their own Grade I listed church.

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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!

Save the date! HODs returns: 8-17 September 2023

* Event number taken from the eve of the festival, before the news of the Queen’s death was known. Whilst many places did have to cancel or adjust their plans, over 85% went ahead in some form.

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