European Heritage Days
The European Heritage Days are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural event shared by the citizens of Europe. Launched in 1985 in France, the Programme has been organised as a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union since 1999.
All 50 European States, parties to the European Cultural Convention, actively involve all levels of government, regional and local authorities, civil society, private sector and thousands of volunteers in the shared endeavour of promoting the common understanding of cultural diversity, local skills and traditions, architectural styles and work of art that form part of the European Heritage. Creating a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated has led to a passionate community working together to encourage inclusive societies in Europe and beyond its national borders.
The aims of the European Heritage Days are to:
- raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe;
- create a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated;
- counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance in Europe and beyond the national borders;
- inform the public and the political authorities about the need to protect cultural heritage against new threats;
- invite Europe to respond to the social, political and economic challenges it faces.
Today, the European Heritage Days can be considered an essential instrument for fostering a tangible experience of European culture and history in addition to raising the awareness of the public about the many values of our common heritage and the continuous need for its protection. The number of annual visitors is estimated to be around 30 million at more than 50,000 participating monuments and sites. Relying on this unique relationship and bottom-up approach, the European Heritage Days have succeeded in stimulating civil society's participation, the specific involvement of youth, migrants, voluntary work and cross-border cooperation, thereby promoting the core principles of intercultural dialogue, partnership and civic responsibility.