European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
Heritage Open Days United Kingdom – England: 2015 Highlights

Between 10 and 13 September 2015, over 3 million visitors in the United Kingdom – England had an opportunity to explore the culture, architecture and arts of the country’s past within Heritage Open Days 2015.

Taking place at multiple sites across the UK, the event assembled over 1,500 organisations and 40,000 volunteers in a joint celebration of the country’s industrial heritage. The visitors could enjoy tours to numerous historical places that celebrate common heritage and help people re-discover their nation’s past.

With an aim to mark ‘European Industrial and Technical Heritage,’ the organisations participating in this year’s Heritage Open Days opened old buildings and industrial landmarks that represent unique narratives of the past. Like all the other countries celebrating European Heritage Days, the United Kingdom – England used this form of storytelling to remind of the nation’s shared history and offer new knowledge on industrial development. Commenting on the event, Katja Condy, Manager, notes:

“HODs 2015 saw another record participation with 4,855 sites and 1684 local organisers registering. What made the 2015 programme so special wasn’t so much the variety of sites that opened up to the public but the sheer diversity and creativity of events that brought to life local history and culture.

But of course, we did have some fantastic new highlights on show illustrating thousands of years of British history:

  • the Calderstones in Liverpool, six megaliths older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids and closed to the public since the 1980s;
  • Amberley Castle in Sussex, a 900-year old time capsule now a luxury 5* hotel;
  • the Downside Abbey Archive and Library in Somerset, the largest monastic library in Britain housing almost half a million books;
  • the gorgeous Georgian building of the Royal Philatelic Society in London, the oldest such society in the world;
  • Lasdun’s iconic Brutalist National Theatre in London;
  • the award-winning WWF–UK’s Living Planet Centre in Woking, one of the greenest buildings in the country.”

 

These are some of the most attractive historical landmarks the visitors could enjoy this year and are among those that contributed most to Heritage Open Days 2015 being as successful as in previous years. According to Ms. Condy, the interest in this year’s event was great despite the fact that the media campaign was less striking compared to that in the previous year.

3.4 million Visitors from Across Great Britain

In 2014, Heritage Open Days celebrated an important anniversary and was promoted accordingly. Nevertheless, this year’s theme, as well as the diversity of events across the country managed to attract millions of visitors.

“We estimate that a total 3.4 million visitors from across Great Britain took advantage of our four-day festival,” suggests Condy, explaining that “This is slightly down on last year for two reasons: Our 20th anniversary in 2014 attracted huge media interest and was blessed with glorious sunshine across the country. In comparison to the previous year, the 2015 media campaign, although yielding an excellent response regionally, was more subdued on a national level while adverse weather conditions in many areas affected especially outdoor events over the HODs weekend. Still, 3.4 million visitors, of which 2 million were new to the festival, is a respectable result.”

The creative approach to representing the theme in focus enabled Heritage Open Days to remain a popular cultural event in England, United Kingdom throughout the years. The year 2015 apparently attracted many new visitors, creating a memorable experience for those who wanted to explore the industrial heritage of their country and become a part of this major European cultural event.

More information on Heritage Open Days in England, UK and the plans for the next year available here.