IT will be happy birthday to the Bard with a difference in his home town this weekend.
The annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations are being given a shake-up in Stratford, including being extended from Friday through to Sunday.
There will also be a new dimension to the parade and flag unfurling on Saturday, with the Community Literary Carnival Pageant, which will see participants in the walking pageant taking a literary fictional literary work or character as a theme.
And on Sunday, the parade to the Shakespeare Service at Holy Trinity Church will be a chance to see ‘Mr Shakespeare’ collecting the quill from the birthplace, before presenting it at the town hall to the head boy of Shakespeare’s own King Edward VI School, who will carry the quill in procession to Holy Trinity, where it will be placed in the hand of Shakespeare’s effigy above his tomb during the service, which is open to all.
And the weekend’s celebrations will also see the town host the UK’s first National Living Statue Championship. Participants from the UK and around the world will perform throughout the weekend in Bancroft Gardens, with the winners announced on Sunday afternoon at the Bandstand on the Recreation Ground.
The Market Village will also be setting up stall on the Recreation Ground on Saturday and Sunday, with up to 80 stalls, street entertainment, street food, live music, and a Saturday evening performance by mime duo Electric Cabaret.
Stratford Town Council clerk Sarah Summers said: “Each year we look to ensure William Shakespeare’s life is celebrated in style. This year we are excited to take the celebrations to a new level with many brand new features and activities spread over the entire weekend.”
The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will both be hosting a range of fun and games.
The RSC will be holding free craft activities for families, live music, and the chance to listen to sonnets being read on crossings of the Avon.
There will also be theatre-making demonstrations, Romeo and Juliet will be reimagined by Positive Youth Foundation, and there will be a chance to meet Jasmine Thompson, the artist responsible for the giant mural Love As A Revolution.
The trust will be staging various free events on Saturday outside the birthplace in Henley Street, including Victorian circus skills and percussion music workshops, balloon sculpting, and morris, renaissance, and country dancing.
And Stratford CV37 residents (with proof of address) can enjoy free entry to all five Shakespeare family homes and a slice of birthday cake, while stocks last.
Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall celebrates its second birthday and the Bard’s 454th with a weekend of storytelling from Tell-Tale Presents dedicated to the man himself.
Visit www.shakespearescelebrations.com for further details.