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Heritage Open Days Theme: Edible England

Fresh produce on a table

About us

Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,000 local people and organisations, and thousands of volunteers. Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE.

What is Edible England?

We want Edible England to encompass the broadest possible spectrum of events and stories, from revealing culinary tastes of the past to going behind-the-scenes of modern production methods – and everything in-between! The theme will also explore the customs and quirks that have developed around what we eat and drink, as well as the fascinating history of some of our regional and national specialties.

Why Edible England?

We are increasingly becoming a nation of foodies and what we eat and drink is at the heart of much of our culture, our history, our communities, and our lives. It's a doorway into hidden histories, regional differences and the myriad cultures around us. It’s a universal language and one of our basic needs, the perfect starting point for another diverse, fun, exciting festival year!

Additional Ingredients

As ever, we know that our event organisers will interpret and develop Edible England in countless wonderful ways. However, to get the cheese rolling here are some particular subjects and ideas that we're enouraging our community to get their teeth into...

  • Cultural cookalong - From Philip Harben to Nigella Lawson cooking shows and ‘cookalongs’ have long been a source of entertainment and information in England. Following on from this, in recent years the rise of social media and online-based cooking channels has been prolific. Now we’re asking our HODs organiser to inject a heritage twist into this age-old concept. This could include recreating an ancient recipe, using an ingredient that has gone out of fashion, or sharing a local/regional speciality.
  • Nature's table - Our 2020 Hidden Nature theme showcased how our natural world, and our relationship with it, is a vital part of England’s story. Nature’s table will continue on this path - but with a foody twist. This could include foraging the landscape for edible ingredients, exploring the wonderful world of kitchen gardens, going behind-the-scenes of the agricultural industry, or exploring the ecosystems that play a vital – and perhaps often unacknowledged - role in our food and drink production.
  • Food from afar - Many of our favourite recipes and ingredients originate from abroad and have come to us as a result of the movement of people, trade, travel and the British Empire. Food from afar aims to investigate the origins of what we eat and drink, celebrating the diversity of our favourite dishes and exploring the impacts (good and bad) that our changing diet has had on communities across the world.