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Stratford's Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations to return in 2022

IT will be business as usual for the birthday celebrations this year – and they’re not taking place in Downing Street.

2019 parade (54643354)
2019 parade (54643354)

Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations are scheduled to go ahead in Stratford on Saturday, 23rd April.

The last official ‘live’ celebrations were held in 2019 – there was no ceremony or parade in 2020 because of lockdown restrictions while last year a virtual celebration was created with a film of a small number of civic dignitaries at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street and at Holy Trinity Church.

The virtual celebrations were created by Stratford Town Council, the organising body for the celebrations, as it wanted to have something online that people could enjoy and share, even if it was a remote experience.

“It worked online and it showed our intention of keeping the celebrations alive,” Sarah Summers, town clerk at Stratford Town Council told the Herald. “This year it’s business as usual unless the government says differently.

“There will be a reception, a parade, the fabulous flag unfurling in Bridge Street and a Shakespeare service. It will be a regular birthday again and it will lift spirits in the town.”

Working in partnership, both the town council and Stratford District Council fund the birthday celebrations and each year the cost rises, as Sarah explained.

“A lot of money has to be spent on traffic management, health and safety and vehicle mitigation but we hope to have a spectacular event, the big one which says ‘this is Stratford, this is the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations’.

“Shakespeare is known worldwide, he is the greatest and we are the only town in the world that can celebrate his birthday in this way.”

In keeping with previous years when a birthday party for Shakespeare has been staged, the morning starts with a civic reception at the Town Hall, and the gathering of the town’s primary school children in Waterside, led by the Air Training Corps Band.

Dignitaries and diplomats, led by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, will be at their flag positions in Bridge Street. There will be an appearance by Mr Shakespeare who presents a laurel wreath to the Lord Lieutenant who then places it on a bust of Shakespeare in front of a dais in Bridge Street.

Other highlights of the celebrations include the unfurling of the Union flag followed by the unfurling of all other flags and finally the National Anthem.

After the procession to Holy Trinity Church to lay flowers at Shakespeare’s grave has taken place, the official Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon will be held in the Theatre Gardens.

n Professor Sir Jonathan Bate, professor of environmental humanities at Arizona State University, is going to give the Shakespeare Birthday Lecture on ‘Shakespeare’s Changing Climate’.

Co-hosted by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Shakespeare Institute, this year’s lecture will take place on Friday, 22nd April at 4.30pm.

Further information and tickets will be released in due course.

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