Following the 2015 Heritage Open Days festival, organisers carried out a survey which revealed that becoming a tourist in your own town “can make you feel better about yourself, healthier and more relaxed as well as having a significant impact on the wellbeing of your own community.”
Researchers talked to visitors who enjoyed free access to sites and happenings of historic or cultural interest across England – 85% said that visiting a Heritage Open Days event had helped them to relax, keep active and healthy or feel better about themselves.
Katja Condy, Heritage Open Days Manager said, ‘Once a year, Heritage Open Days showcases the treasures on our own doorsteps that many take for granted.
“Often people are living within a stone’s throw of an interesting site but wouldn’t consider paying to visit somewhere in their own town or region. Being completely free of charge, the festival removes a potential barrier that may be stopping people from accessing their local heritage.”
A sense of appreciation, being proud of your town and feeling connected with your own community were among the positive responses that came out of the interviews with visitors to heritage and cultural events held in a range of historic places across England.
And the festival is good for the local economy
The survey also measured for the first time the impact of the festival on local economies and on communities.
Over 3.4 million adults visited nearly 5,000 Heritage Open Days events in 2015, which was estimated to bring benefits of more than £15 million to local economies.
A THOUSAND years of Knutsford heritage will be celebrated in September when the town takes part for the first time as a town in the four-day long annual Heritage Open Days festival.
Organised by the Knutsford Promenades community association, the four days will showcase the best of the town’s heritage from King Canute to the present day.
“The Knutsford Promenades changes format every year and for 2016 we are working with Heritage Open Days to put Knutsford’s heritage on the national map,” said Sarah Flannery, from the Knutsford Promenades Community Association.
Not only will buildings not normally open to the public be throwing open their doors, but some will offer free entry and others special events designed to inform and entertain visitors about Knutsford’s fascinating heritage.
“We’ve already arranged for secret passageway to be opened, a bell tower to be climbed, and a glimpse into the world of Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Cranford’ will be offered for the first time in over 15 years,” said Sarah.
“We’ve worked hard to create an exciting programme for the town in partnership with Grade I and other listed buildings and their organisations.
“Special focus is on the town’s links to internationally known figures such as King Canute, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry Royce and Richard Harding Watt.”
The plans have already attracted the attention of the Heritage Open Days national media manager Harriet Roberts.
She met with organisers and was treated to a whistle stop tour in a vintage Rolls Royce chauffeured by Knutsford resident Alan Ferrier.
This took in the Ruskin Rooms, Brook Street Heritage Site, Booths Hall, the Moor, the Tabley House Collection and a number of private houses – a total of 20 plus listed buildings which all have amazing stories to tell.
“There’s a tangible buzz about this year’s Heritage Open Days in Knutsford,” said Harriet.
“It’s so exciting to see plans and creative ideas coming together on such a grand scale by so many partners and passionate volunteers.”
As this year sees the Canute Millennial, the town and visitors are being invited to recreate Canute’s Crossing as 1,000 people cross the River Lily following in the footsteps of King Canute who arrived in Cheshire in 1016.
The first to make the crossing was Christian Wewer, Consul for Denmark closely followed by Knutsford Town Mayor Cllr Tony Dean.
“We have lots of fun events planned around the Heritage Open Days and Canute’s Crossing and are delighted with the support we’ve received so far from the local community and businesses,” said Sarah.
Heritage Open Days is co-ordinated nationally by the National Trust and has been running for over 20 years. It is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days which takes place across 50 countries on the same September weekend every year.
This year the festival runs from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday, September 11, inclusive. Canute’s Crossing will take place on Saturday, September 10.