27 Oct 2022
by Heritage Open Days

A collage of images, from the LGTBQ+ flag, a manicured garden at a stately home, look down a stone arched passageway and stained glass widnow

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.

Helps you realise what's hiding in plain sight, often on your doorstep.



Wonderful experience. Friendly, knowledgeable staff. Blew my socks off!



Now interested in finding out more and visiting a few local sites.



A photograph of people in an auditorium at Bristol Old Vic listening to a tour.

Bristol Old Vic's tours were very popular. (© Bristol Old Vic)

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.

From the everyday to the extraordinary, we found astounding inventions are everywhere! (© Arnhel De Serra / Heritage Open Days)
  • 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

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. 

Children and young people asked lots of questions and gained a positive first experience of archaeology and conservation. A constant flow of families and over 150 people made the Conservation Station into a real success!


National Trust

Woman at a stall in a courtyard engaging with a family.
At National Trust's Stowe Estate an archaeologist and conservator worked together with the property team on a pop-up stall to great success. (© National Trust)

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! 

Mosaic of photographs surrounding the New Wave logo. Images include archways, surgical art illustration, a woman doing yoga in a garden, and a person
From 'Crime unlocked' in Berwick-upon-Tweed to 'Art + Surgery' in Exeter, the New Wave programme is always full of great collaborations.

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!

It really brought together people from different areas of interest, different backgrounds AND, importantly, very local people who have never ever visited their own Grade I listed church!



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

*Please Note*: 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.

Find out more

Related topics