This year's festival helped 923,000 visitors explore new places, activities and ideas. In keeping with our theme of 'Creativity Unwrapped' one visitor even wrote a poem about their experience!
Visitor response 2023
"Once there were just us 2 with money to spend & lots to see & do. But now it's us 4 & everything costs a whole lot more. So, a chance to explore castles & kings to spark imaginations with ruins & things. These are how memories are made and it's all thanks to Heritage Open Days!!"
Led by local people
Our small central team helps an extraordinary network of local people to put on events, which make a real difference to their communities and the wider sector.
- 2,254 local organisers + c.140 coordinators
- 2/3 of organisers work on the festival in a volunteer capacity
- They work with 44,200 volunteers + 6,100 staff
The strength of HODs is the combination of national and local input working together
Supporting the sector
At the start of the year we were delighted to be shortlisted for Museum + Heritage’s ‘sector support’ award. Not only is the festival itself free to visitors, all the support we provide for organisers is free of charge too, which has been particularly important with the continued cost of living crisis. A huge thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery for making it all possible.
- Held 4 webinars + 5 visioning workshops to inspire and connect organisers
- Sent out enough bunting to cover the height of 150 Blackpool Towers!
- Supported 14 organisations through our New Wave training programme working with young adults to create new events
Engaging new audiences
- Nearly 2/3 of visitors who have previously attended Heritage Open Days events agreed that it has led them to visit heritage sites more often
- 34% of visitors are from C2DE backgrounds
- 45% of visitors said they would not have visited had there been a charge for the event but c.2/3 visitors gave a donation where the opportunity was offered and £8.9 million was contributed to local economies through secondary spend
HODs allowed me to tap into a local community we haven't worked much with in the past in a locality we are new to. So I was excited to reach new audiences.
We are part of the sector’s Wellbeing & Heritage Working Group (facilitated by Historic England and the Council for British Archaeology) and this year have begun to develop our understanding of the festival’s social impact further. We’ve written a paper on ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing with Heritage Open Days’ for a conference follow up and introduced more questions to our feedback surveys.
- 91% of organisers + 55% of visitors agreed that the event was good for meeting new people
- 88% of organisers + 74% of visitors agreed that it gave an opportunity to support the community
- 90% of visitors learned something new about the local area
- 82% of visitors felt increased pride in their local area
Our family has a range of disabilities and being in inspirational and calming sites are invaluable for our good mental health. We would never have the budget to purchase tickets normally so this was very special for us.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Manchester)
Proggy Pride Party, Sunderland Culture (Tyne & Wear)
Bonnets to Boats, Heatherfield Heritage (online)
A huge number of events were inspired by this year’s theme of Creativity Unwrapped. One of our favourite takes was this series of video shorts looking at the arts of the inland waterways.
Lamport Hall & Gardens (Northamptonshire)
More visitor responses
My eyes have been opened to many hidden gems on my doorstep.
...the pink logo made me turn around to investigate further.
Amazing visit, amazing building and joined as members!
One of our most interesting and entertaining days out this year.
Very informative and friendly. I came away learning a lot more than expected. It has ignited my interest in history and wanting to learn more.
Fascinating place and such friendly people bringing the history of it alive.
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: 6-15 September 2024
Find out more
- Download a summary of facts and figures from 2023 here
- Festival Spotlights - Explore some of the fantastic events that took part this year
- Case Studies - Hear more from local organisers
- New Wave - Discover our youth engagement programme
- Get involved - Feeling inspired? Why not join the community?!
- Ways to Wellbeing with Heritage Open Days