Intangible Cultural Heritage ratification by the UK

December 24, 2023 Published by Alex McCoskrie


The UK Government has confirmed its intention to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to protect the crafts, practices, and traditions which are recognised as being key part of national life and providing a sense of identity to communities across the UK. These practices are often also referred to as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ or ‘living heritage’ and are inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.

Traditions that are central to the rich tapestry which makes up the UK’s many cultures and identity – from Highland dancing to bagpipe playing, cheese-rolling and the male voice choirs of the Welsh valleys – are expected to also be put forward for a UK-wide official inventory. This could also include traditions brought to the UK by immigrant communities, such as Notting Hill Carnival and steel-drumming.  Artisanal crafts such as basket-weaving, thatching and the arts of creating tartan and tweed, as well as the practitioners of these traditions, will also be considered. Communities across the UK will be able to nominate their most cherished local traditions to be included in a new register of cultural heritage in the UK. 

Festive favourites, such as pantomime, carol-singing and the art of making a Christmas wreath could all be formally recognised – as could others from throughout the year, such sea shanties, cèilidh and calligraphy.  Seasonal celebrations taking place at Patron Saints’ days, Hogmanay, Burns Night, Shrove Tuesday, and the Welsh tradition of holding Eisteddfodau, where all cultural activities including singing and spoken word are conducted in the Welsh language, could also be included. 

To suggest traditions to be included, please click here.

Image Annie Spratt/Unsplash