There are many ways for organisers and coordinators to get involved with this year’s theme. Our new Sustainable Heritage Brochure is a great way to get thinking about planning events, and features definitions, explanations and recommended reading, as well as good practice examples and event ideas. Here are 8 top tips from the brochure to get started.


Tip 1: build sustainability into your plans

Many of this year’s events will be themed around sustainability, such as exploring nature or encouraging the continuity of cultural traditions. But even if your event doesn’t have an obvious connection to the theme, you can still take part by making the organisation and logistics more sustainable. The most effective way to do this is to plan for sustainability from the start rather than trying to change plans later on. For every element of your planning – from venue hire to catering to marketing – create a process for assessing the sustainability issues which might arise and how your approach can be adapted accordingly. And don’t forget, sustainability incorporates social, economic and environmental perspectives so consider events from all these angles.

Tip 2: minimise resource consumption

From a single event to a large programme, most events will use some form of energy or resources, so it’s important to think about making choices which are more sustainable. For example, switching to LED lighting is a really simple way to reduce how much energy your venue uses. When buying supplies, consider whether there are local options available which will require lower transport emissions, and for activities such as craft workshops think about using pre-owned or recycled materials.

Tip 3: work with nature

With most European Heritage Days celebrations taking place from mid-August through to October, natural sunlight is available for most of the day which reduces the need to put the lights on… but why not think about organising an event outside to make the most of any sunny weather too? Another way to make the most of natural resources is by using in-season ingredients for catering which reflect the natural growing cycles of plants… or taking this idea further, think about making local agriculture or culinary traditions the topic for an event itself!

Tip 4: create digital information

Providing information about your event is really important for visitors, but nowadays this doesn’t mean you need to produce volumes of printed material. From maps with walking routes to background information about a particular object or view, much of the visitor experience can be provided digitally. And while some established venues will have special apps or interactive options, a simple website or even just a social media account is often all that’s needed and can be quite straightforward and inexpensive to setup. Signage around your site can also have a digital element – place QR codes linking to website pages, videos or photo galleries, to help visitors get those most out of their time and make their visit more immersive.

Tip 5: promote public transport routes

Help to reduce the amount of CO2 your event creates by encouraging visitors to walk, cycle or use public transport to get to your venue. Highlighting routes or which bus stops or train stations are within a short distance of your event as part of your advertising will demonstrate how straightforward it is to visit your event using public transport, helping to make it an easy choice over using a private vehicle. And why not consider rewarding visitors who use public transport with something extra – such as a free cup of tea – just ask people to show their ticket!

Tip 6: encourage recycling

Events are often a day trip for visitors, and that includes lunch… but bottles, punnets, packets and even leftover food itself can create a huge amount of unwanted rubbish. Whether from picnics brought from home, or food bought at your venue, encourage your visitors to recycle packaging by making it just as easy as throwing it away – provide accessible and visible recycling bins with easy-to-understand labelling, and consider an additional food waste bin for composting. If necessary, have a guide on-hand to help visitors sort their waste at peak times. And of course, if you have a café or provide catering on-site, look into the packaging your supplier uses and source bio-degradable or recyclable options where possible.

Tip 7: think about reusability

As well as recycling, finding reusable items helps reduce the amount of landfill and reliance on disposable products. Think about the materials and design of marketing materials like banners and A-boards and choose options which are robust enough to be reused in the future. If you’re catering your event, look into ways to reduce waste, such as using a drinks dispenser to avoid individual cans and bottles, or engaging visitors in your sustainable plans with a special offer for those who bring or buy their own reusable mug. Hiring cutlery and dishes is another thing to consider, but if you really can’t avoid needing a disposable option check what you’re buying is compostable. At the end of your event, plan where you can store any leftover products or equipment, and if there’s anything which your venue doesn’t have space or further use for, donate it to charity – others may find a use for it!

Tip 8: consider your local community

Sustainability often brings to mind issues about the environment, but another key aspect of this year’s theme is social sustainability, and simple changes to your event can help make a difference. Start by assessing your event in the context of your local community. Are there local suppliers you could use? Can you reduce how much noise your event creates to minimise any disturbance to nearby residents? Can you engage more with local residents who might want to get involved through volunteering, or even create a series of events across different organisations? Gaining the support of your local community will help ensure your event is as successful as possible as well as making it more socially sustainable.

Inspired to start planning a Sustainable Heritage event? See what organisers in Finland are already planning, follow our updates and news on social media using #EuropeanHeritageDays and take a look at our Sustainable Heritage Brochure for a lot more ideas and background reading to make sure your events are as sustainable and engaging as possible.