Shakespeare’s birthday was not officially recorded, but because he was baptised on 26 April (1524), many people consider his birthday 23 April.
Okay, that’s enough history – dates aren’t the focus anyway because Stratford-upon-Avon needs a whole weekend to celebrate the bard’s ‘birthday’, which is why Shakespeare’s Celebrations is on from Saturday 21 April to Sunday 22 April.
What’s On: Shakespeare Day (23 April)
The festive weekend, led by Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council and Stratford-on-Avon District Council, is comprised of festivities that still retain some traditional features from the first celebrations of Shakespeare in 1824.
Among the parade’s participants will be civic dignitaries, invited guests from the worlds of literature and theatre, students of Shakespeare’s school, characters in period dress, marching bands and local schoolchildren making their way through the streets towards Holy Trinity Church.
The Community Literary Carnival Pageant will see characters walking in groups inspired by literary works of fiction. Tableaux with characters from such authors as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Roald Dahl will pass by ‘Mr Shakespeare’, who will hand each group a feather quill symbolising the hand-down of his literary genius to all aspiring playwrights and authors.
Once the Procession is over, throughout the day there will be community festivities and street entertainment, led by organisations like Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Royal Shakespeare Company. The annual Birthday Lunch (now sold out) is held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel directly after the Parade. Additionally, world and national champion living statue artists will compete in the first competition of its kind as well as performing throughout the festive weekend.
Shakespeare’s 454th birthday celebrations will include a weekend market village. The maze of goods will boast street food, cocktails, craft ales and specialist bars. Options for hot, international food includes Mexican, Indian, Spanish, and dishes like pizzas, burgers and kebabs. Over 150 stalls will peddle wares such as crafts, plants, artisan goods and clothing.
For a full breakdown of the lineup over the weekend, check out the 2018 Programme.
Details on traveling to and visiting the festival this weekend 21-22 April are available at How to Find Shakespeare’s Celebrations.