New Wave

New Wave is an annual training and development programme that takes a small cohort through a structured programme focused on working with young adults to develop new, innovative Heritage Open Days events.

How can I get involved?

Applications now OPEN for New Wave 2024!

Thinking about organising a Heritage Open Days event? Keen to start working in collaboration with young adults? This year we have up to 15 funded places available on our training and development programme and we are accepting applications up until Tuesday 9th January at 17:00Download the application pack for further information on how to apply for New Wave.

New Wave is open to both new and existing Heritage Open Days organisers, if you haven't taken part before you can find out more about becoming an organiser on our How to get involved (general festival) page. As a grassroots festival we welcome New Wave applications from a wide variety of organisations and community groups, including those who may not see themselves as part of the “heritage sector”. If you have any questions about the project, your eligibility, or require an alternative format to apply email

"I had such a wonderful time on the New Wave programme and as an organisation we have definitely benefited from participating. We have been participating in HODs for a long time but this felt like a little bit of recognition for our hard work and the whole team have been very enthusiastic about my participation throughout. We really surprised ourselves with how well our New Wave event went. It has boosted our confidence and encouraged us to be more ambitious in the future" - New Wave Participant

How does it work?

New Wave is guided by three key themes:

  • Learning from others - we encourage and support participants to find examples of past events that have successfully engaged young people, both in the cultural sector and beyond. New Wave aims to learn from and build upon the previous work that has been done in this area.
  • Understanding our audience - New Wave focuses heavily on utilising audience data to inform and guide our approach. The project aims to build an in-depth understanding of the motivations, aspirations, and barriers when it comes to youth engagement in the cultural sector.
  • Co-creation and collaboration - New Wave is about producing events working directly with young adults. Our participants are supported and encouraged to work with this target audience to plan, promote, and deliver their events.

Why are we doing this?

Over the years the festival has evolved from just opening doors to encompassing a wide range of innovative and dynamic events. However, too often we’re still perceived as only being for traditional heritage audiences. New Wave seeks to change that. It aims to enable the delivery of high quality events that push the boundaries of what people expect of Heritage Open Days, widening our appeal to audience groups that we have previously struggled to reach.

What happened in recent years?

Click here for a summary PDF of the New Wave pilot

Each year participants received guidance and support from guest speakers, for example, the Imperial War Museums, the Tate, the Audience Agency, Kids in Museums, Historic England, Decision House, Y Heritage Leicester YMCA, and Chloé Nelkin Consulting have all spoken previously. Building on these training sessions participants conducted their own local research and engaged local young people in planning creative new events at their sites. From these learnings, new connections and partnerships were formed and a whole host of exciting events were put together.

"It was amazing - so nice to do things in a small group setting (especially the in-person session) so that we could get to know one another. Super supportive and responsive team and I will be recommending the programme to others" - New Wave Participant

Past participants have created a range of innovative events including interactive workshops, escape rooms, museum lates, sports days and an outdoor cinema. Get a taste of them in our yearly spotlights: 

Past participants include: ‘a space' arts / All Saints Church (York) / Bath Assembly Rooms (National Trust) / Berwick Archives / Birmingham Botanical Gardens / Brierley Hill Community Forum / Crook Hall and Gardens / Dunham Massey / East Suffolk Council / Evesham Abbey Trust / Exeter and Devon Medical Heritage Trust / The Forum Trust / Friends of Flaxmill Maltings / Girlguiding Norfolk Archive Resource Centre  / Gorleston Pavillion and Bandstand / Grow North Staffs / Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust / Hillingdon Council  / The Landmark Trust / Lister Steps / Lyme Park / Locomotion / Mechanics Institution Trust / National Royal Navy Museum / Nottinghamshire Archive / Oxford Preservation Trust / The Reader / Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust / Shakespeare Birthplace Trust / Sheffield Civic Trust / St Albans Cathedral / The South Asia Collection / Sunderland Museum / The Thames Discovery Programme (Museum of London Archaeology) / The University of Cambridge / The University of West London / Wardsend Cemetery / Wheal Martyn Clay Works / Wentworth Castle Gardens / 575 Wandsworth Road (National Trust).