29 Nov 2021
by Heritage Open Days

Collage of images, a women with pink hair wearing a VR headset, a Minecraft virtually recreated city, families sat on the grass at an outdoor cinema.

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

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

Working in partnership

  • 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
  • 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. 

Local festival snapshots 

Swindon Heritage Action Zone (Wiltshire)
Heritage Open Days engages local people in Swindon's history and encourages them to take pride in their town and its story.



A line of stone cottage buildings, one has been turned into a museum. Outside is a HODs open day sign next to the Museum signpost.

(© 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 (South Yorkshire)
Researching for this particular Edible England has not only opened my mind, but those of the Friends and our visitors.


Friends of Wombwell Cemetery (2021)

A watercolour of Victorian women enjoying a picnic in a graveyard, three sat on a picnic rug, one holding a parasol, enjoying the atmosphere.

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 (East Sussex)
Collage of an aged handwritten recipe, a man dressed in a green recency waistcoat holding buns and of white stone town house buildings in Brighton
(© 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 (Tyne & Wear)
A man in a black t-shirt and cream cargo shorts holding a watering can, posing over his sprouting seedlings planted in pots or a wheelbarrow!
(© 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!

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

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