25 Years of Heritage Open Days in England

With 500 events registered already and plenty more to come, England is preparing for a spectacular Heritage Open Days festival this year. Celebrating its silver anniversary, Heritage Open Days 2019 is promising the largest and most diverse cultural festival in the last 25 years. Thousands of cultural and historical sites will welcome visitors from 13th to 22nd September. Among the special initiatives organised to celebrate the anniversary, the ‘25 for 25’ project opens the doors to 25 new sites – some well-known, some less so, alongside craftivist workshops, Wikithons and numerous events celebrating “People Power”, to mark the 25th anniversary of England’s contribution to European Heritage Days.

25 Years of People Power

Aiming to honour those whose activism has shaped today’s society, Heritage Open Days is celebrating ‘People Power’ as the central theme for 2019. The ability of individuals, groups and nations to make a difference and bring about positive change serves as inspiration to anyone interested in organising an event this year. Organisers are encouraged to propose events celebrating the people who have been instrumental in preserving heritage, empowering communities and promoting equality and peace in their communities. Special resource packs are available for organisers who are looking to organise a People Power event here, while an event registration form is available here. As part of special anniversary celebrations, a dedicated booklet will be published - ‘25 Years of People Power’ will feature stories from all over the country which demonstrate the power of the people behind Heritage Open Days.

New Partnerships and Projects

Alongside the regular partnerships and collaborations, this year’s HODs is partnering with the British Muslim Council, the Women’s Engineering Society and The Wellcome Collection on a series of projects that contribute to the theme. Visit My Mosque is an annual project that is bridging gaps between people of all religions and none. Sharing the same aims as HODs, the partnership aims to encourage those mosques that open for Visit My Mosque to do the same over the Heritage Open Days festival. .

The Women’s Engineering Society, Heritage Open Days, and The Wellcome Collection are organising a series of Wikithons throughout the year to develop last year’s theme – “Extraordinary Women”. The organisers, together with the Women’s Library, are inviting the public to take part in a Wikithon dedicated to women in engineering. On Saturday, 18 May, participants will contribute to creating the WES Centenary Trail.

Dare to Dream

As a part of the annual Unsung Stories project, Dare to Dream is celebrating the power of people in a unique way. By exploring new ways of participating in the life of your community, Dare to Dream continues the tradition of great dreamers whose ideas helped to make change for the better. Creative Director of the Craftivisit Collective, Sarah Corbett, will be organising four craftivist workshops during the festival, encouraging people to think about their own dreams and wishes for our collective future, with organisers running their own workshops around the country,  Sarah will provide insights into peaceful and thought-provoking craft activism that can be promoted during Heritage Open Days, and shares her take on the project in an interview for Heritage Open Days Portal:

"My aim with this project is not to ignore people’s worries about the future but to create a project that can help us to use the therapeutic nature of craft (even for those of us who have never picked up a needle and thread before) to slow down, remember the heritage of positive dreamers of our past and how they have helped shape our present to empower and inspire us to focus on being solution seekers not problem proclaimers. It’s hard to explain the power of handcraft on the maker and the viewers. I hope people join in with an open heart and open mind and see how it can benefit them and their community during Heritage Open Days."

Building on 2018, when over two million visitors attended a staggering 5,500 events, organisers and National Coordinators are hoping to raise the bar even higher this year. With a wide range of heritage themed events, the 25th anniversary is looking for ways to encourage widening access to heritage among diverse communities across the country.


Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Image credits, Craftivist Collective / Robin Prime, Madding Crowd, Friends of Acton Court, National Maritime Museum Greenwich, National Trust, Isle of Wight Steam Railway, National Trust / Steve Betts

For further details, visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk, or follow Heritage Open Days on Twitter @HeritageOpenDay

A full press release about some of the highlight events of this year’s festival is available here: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/uploads/_document-library/National_Highlights_-_HODs_Long_Lead_Press_Release.pdf