With 65 events, this year’s edition of Heritage Open Days in Gosport has attracted a record breaking number of visitors to the town’s inspiring cultural and heritage locations. As revealed in the 2016 report provided by local organisers, the festival gathered 13,655 people and marked yet another year of continuous growth. Between September 12th and 15th both public cultural institutions and some less known heritage sites offered outstanding free programs to give an inside perspective to the town’s history, tradition and culture.

Formerly a major naval town supporting Her Majesty's Naval Base, Portsmouth (HMNB Portsmouth), Gosport keeps plenty of secrets of the maritime life that shaped the town’s history and culture. Events that spotlighted its naval heritage were thus some of the most interesting ones and they included an exploration of Forton Lake vessels, a talk at the Institute of Naval Medicine, an illustrated talk about the invention of Torpedo, as well as the history of Gosport Ferry, among other interesting experiences. The festival also highlighted traditions and crafts typical to communities of the south coast England, United Kingdom, through a series of concerts, museum exhibitions, guided tours and other thematic events.  

All these activities have helped showcase Gosport’s cultural and historic richness, as well as its unique spirit cherished by different generations. Giving a behind the scenes perspective on some of the less known historic sites and offering free admissions at different public institutions, Heritage Open Days continue to motivate thousands of its citizens for new heritage adventures. This year, its diverse programme once again broke attendance records, further establishing the festival as one of the favourite cultural activities in Gosport.

In addition to this breakdown of figures related to activities and participation, organisers also revealed people’s primary motivations for visiting the events. Among the most common reasons to be a part of Heritage Open Days, respondents highlighted opportunities to learn more about the specific site or area (39%), to visit places that are not normally open to public (32%) and to have an educational day (16%). The success of the event thus points to the continued interest of Gosportians to explore their local histories and actively support the effort to preserve their local heritage.

Managed nationally by National Trust, supported by Peoples Postcode Lottery and locally organized by Hampshire County Council & Sultan, the 2016 Heritage Open Days festival is a fruitful effort to foreground heritage of Gosport and engage its citizens into various cultural activities. Next year, the organisers expect a further growth of the festival and have already announced the call for individuals and institutions interested in being a part of the celebrations in 2017. For more information on how to get involved visit the official website.

Photo credits: www.gosportheritage.co.uk