Just two years ago Stratford-upon-Avon put out the bunting to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in style. This year the historic market town has another major series of events planned to mark 4OO years since the Bard’s death, which also happens to fall on 23rd April.
The annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations on 23rd and 24th April always provide a weekend of family fun with plenty of pageantry, pomp and performance. But the 2016 celebrations will be on an even grander scale, including a 1,000-strong Birthday Procession through the streets.
A highlight of the weekend is a unique collaboration between the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company in the form of a gala evening on Saturday 23rd called Shakespeare Live. Broadcast live on BBC2 from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, this special event will feature a host of well-known faces and be compered by RSC Associate Artist David Tennant.
Over at Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Sunday 24th you can enjoy a great introduction to the man and his times with a performance of Not Just William. This fun day-in-the-life imagining of Shakespeare’s formative years by Tell Tale will bring to life the source folk tales for some of his most famous plays.
Opening to the general public for the very first time in April, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall will provide the missing chapter in the story of his life in Stratford – namely his education and his inspiration to act and write.
During the last 19 years of his life, Shakespeare wrote 26 of his best-loved plays as owner of New Place. Although the original building was destroyed in 1759, the site is being reimagined to create a world-class heritage attraction. Due to open in July, this will be the single most significant Shakespearian project to commemorate his legacy.
Across the road, the historic Guild Chapel will also be opening to the public. Dating back to 1269, it has long associations with Shakespeare’s family. Visitors will be able to see work in progress to restore some extremely rare medieval wall paintings that have only recently been discovered.
With all this – and more – taking place in 2016, this special anniversary year is a truly unique opportunity to experience the hometown of the world’s most famous playwright.
To keep up to speed with everything that’s happening throughout Warwickshire for Shakespeare 2016, follow the online conversation with #Shakespeare2016.