65 event ideas

Trying to think of an event for the next History Festival? History SA staff have done some brainstorming and we've come up with a list of 65 ideas to get the ball rolling. If you have a great event idea you’d like to add to the list, post it in the comments section below.

    1. Arrange a torchlight tour – of your local cemetery of historic house.
    2. Team up with your local vintage store for an historical fashion parade.
    3. Historical ‘Letters to the editor’ – find some interesting, poignant, funny, topical letters to the editor from the local paper and invite people to a reading.
    4. Invite an Aboriginal Elder to share something about the cultural significance of your place.
    5. Whose stories are missing from your displays? Do you tell the story of the farmer, but not his wife, the settlers but not the Aboriginal people? The master and mistress of the house, but not the servants? Arrange a special tour to share another perspective on your museum.
    6. Think about your recent history – what has changed in the last 10-20 years? Hold a pop-up museum and invite people to share their stories of the recent past.
    7. Hold a quiz night, including history rounds.
    8. Film night – invite people to share some of their home movies and relive the past.
    9. Out of the vaults – do you have collections in storage that are rarely seen, or kept in areas that are not on public display?
    10. Favourite things – invite local identities to select their favourite objects from your collection and write their own labels for them.
    11. Take people on a tour of backstreets and laneways.
    12. Open a building to the public with an unusual or interesting history.
    13. Find a local storyteller and put on a Bar Yarns event at the local pub.
    14. Put together a panel of researchers to discuss their findings.
    15. Run a research poster competition with the local school.
    16. Ask current and former students to run school history tours.
    17. Invite teens to try their hand at curating a history exhibition.
    18. Launch a history book, website or exhibition.
    19. Tour the local shops and look at how they’ve changed over time.
    20. Find some local recipes – talk about their significance to the community.
    21. Investigate a local myth/legend/story from different perspectives and build a tour or event around it.
    22. Walking tour of an industrial area.
    23. Put on a scavenger hunt and invite people to become historians and analyse the evidence.
    24. Bring together different cultures in the area to discuss history with food/dance/art/craft/talks.
    25. Have a hands-on workshop to learn a new skill from the past and talk about history as you go.
    26. Invite retired workers from a particular industry to talk about their careers and skills (perhaps at the regular watering hole).
    27. Invite residents of different ages to talk about the community and how it has changed over time
    28. Put on a food making demonstration or workshop and talk about historical significance (cheese making/baking/winemaking).
    29. Take a historical boat trip with talks about how it works and how it was used.
    30. Screen a historical film and serve popcorn.
    31. Hold a debate around a controversial issue in your area of history.
    32. Get young visitors to recreate your town using found and recycled materials.
    33. Hold a scanfest at your local research centre and invite people to bring their personal photos and documents to add to the collection.
    34. ‘Greetings from…’: take us on a tour of your place. What makes it like it is? Who are the local characters? What do different areas of the place mean to different people? Peel back the layers.
    35. Have a ‘night at the museum’.
    36. Invite children to display their current favourite toys alongside ones from their grandparents’ era.
    37. Following on from point 3 – ‘what happened next’ present letters to editor about controversial issues and then look the community response/outcomes of the issue.
    38. Run competition to caption historical photos (aiming for funny/clever responses).
    39. Set up a temporary display in a vacant shop window.
    40. Invite visitors to rewrite or draw labels in ‘horrible histories’ style.
    41. Walking tour about what is going on under people’s feet (way to talk history of gas pipes and water supply, land reclaimation, environmental issues with industrial land…).
    42. Have a bake-off/cook-off using local ingredients or traditional methods.
    43. Have a day/evening to collect some oral histories for your site/building/area.
    44. Hold a pet friendly event/tour.
    45. Take the history to those that can’t get out – put up a display at a local hospital, visit a nursing home dressed up or sing songs from post-war/pre-war eras.
    46. Get hands on with music – show children how to play historical instruments or learn how to make their own (playing spoons, whistle with gum leaves, etc.).
    47. Organise etiquette lessons or have fun looking at lessons to be learned from 1950s housewives.
    48. Organise a historical themed/dress up pub crawl.
    49. Arrange a family-friendly themed bicycle tour around your local area.
    50. Encourage people to bring in and display their ‘collections’ or have a swap meet.
    51. For those savvy with social media, organise a historical themed Instameet.
    52. Hold a photography competition.
    53. Is there a famous/infamous animal in the history of your community? (think Bob the Railway Dog). Tell his/her story as an exhibition/presentation. Invite people to share other animal stories.
    54. Partner with two or three other museums/historic buildings and have a progressive dinner, with starters, mains, desserts, tea and coffee along with maybe a short talk, game or display at each different venue.
    55. Organise a community archaeological dig with Flinders University – invite visitors to watch or take part.
    56. Bring various age groups together to share and swap skills of their era: eg traditional string games (cat’s cradle), French knitting, ball room dancing versus skateboarding, video games, Rubik’s cube etc.
    57. Create a memory box of items (ones that can be handled) and photographs on a particular theme like childhood, holidays, cooking, sport etc and share with residents from an aged care facility to inspire reminiscence and conversation.
    58. Based in an historic building? Have after dark, candlelit (or replicate gaslit) tours or get performers representing characters that once lived/worked there tell their stories.
    59. Organise a musical evening or theatrical performance in your historic building/grounds and encourage a new audience to visit you.
    60. Have an Open Garden afternoon; with talks/presentations on traditional gardening/cooking methods eg making compost, keeping chickens, making preserves, creating sculpture from recycled materials.
    61. Research the names on your local war memorial and tell their stories.
    62. Invite a local community that has only recently migrated to the area to tell their stories in your museum/library etc.
    63. Organise an Auslan interpreted tour of your museum/exhibition.
    64. Borrow one of History SA’s nine FREE travelling exhibitions for the duration of the history festival. The exhibition can stand alone or be supplemented with objects, photographs and stories from your own collection. More information and booking details here: http://history.sa.gov.au/standards/travelling-exhibitions
    65. Recreate a typical event of the past from your community eg a strawberry fete; ‘a continental’;  a euchre party; or a beetle drive.  Make it a fun fundraiser: get people to dress up in appropriate period costume, and perhaps collaborate with a classic car club so participants can arrive in style.

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