The traditional celebration parade, quill ceremony and the National Living Statue Championships will make up the events taking place during the biggest celebration weekend of the year in Stratford-upon-Avon.

This year’s celebrations will feature the traditional elements of the weekend along with the new addition of the Scarecrow Festival and the returning National Living Statue Championships taking place across Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28.

There will also be plenty of free family-friendly workshops and street theatre happening across the town hosted by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Escape Arts.

Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon, Councillor John Bicknell, said: “This year we have a vast range of events on offer across the weekend, as well as the annual Parade and Flag Unfurling Ceremony on Saturday which always draws large crowds intent on celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday with us here in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“We look forward to welcoming both locals and visitors from around the world to celebrate the bard’s legacy.”

Cllr Christopher Kettle, Chairman of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, added: “Once again it is wonderful to see so many visitors from home and abroad coming to support Stratford-upon-Avon in celebrating the birthday of our great bard. It demonstrates yet again the world-wide appeal of Shakespeare and his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

“As an example of that worldwide appeal in this last year the District Council, with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), travelled to Fuzhou in China in September to witness the signing of an agreement between the City of Fuzhou and the SBT to approve the building of life size copies of both Shakespeare’s Birthplace and New Place as part of the San-Weng development. On the back of that agreement Stratford District Council in November was one of four cities invited to speak to a worldwide audience in Wuhan about Shakespeare.

“This weekend we are also unveiling the Peony Pavilion, a gift from the city of Fuzhou, marking the links between Shakespeare and the Chinese poet Tang Xianzu.”

Here is the full list of activities and events:

Key events:

  • Traditional Parade and Flag Unfurling Ceremony - from 10:00am throughout the town centre on Saturday, April 27.
  • Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon – Saturday, April 27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Sparkling wine reception at 12:30pm and a three-course lunch will be served from 1:00pm, this is a separate ticketed event.
  • National Living Statue Championships – taking place across the weekend at Bancroft Gardens, vote for your favourite and the winner will be announced at 4:00pm on Sunday, April 28 in the Bancroft Basin.
  • Quill Ceremony – Head Girl of King Edward VI School, Tazmin Chape, will carry Shakespeare’s quill from the Town Hall to Holy Trinity Church from 10:50am on Sunday, April 28.
  • Shakespeare Service – The Sunday service at Holy Trinity Church starts at 11:15am until 12:30pm.

At the RSC:

At the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust:

  • The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture: Shakespeare Goes to Gdansk - Join Professor Jerzy Limon O.B.E., founder and artistic director of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre in Poland, in conversation with Professor Michael Dobson. Presented in partnership with the University of Birmingham, Friday, April 26, 4-5.30pm at the Shakespeare Institute. Tickets available at www.shakespeare.org.uk
  • Country Dancing - Kick-off the annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations with a country dance performance by local school children outside Shakespeare's Birthplace on Henley Street, 9.30am – 10.30am.
  • Knights & Nymphs Children’s Garden Party - The annual Knights and Nymphs children's garden party is the perfect excuse for the little ones to celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday in style. Dress up as a Knight or a Nymph, have your face painted, and enjoy garden games, or tuck into the delicious barbecue, there’s plenty of fun for all the family, free entry to the garden from 12pm-4pm at Hall’s Croft.
  • Live Shakespeare Performance - Actors from resident Birthplace troupe Shakespeare Aloud! will perform fight scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. From 1pm, Henley Street.
  • Community Dance Performances - Watch community dance troupes perform outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace, ranging from traditional to contemporary styles, from 11.30am – 4.30pm on Henley Street.
  • Free entry to the Shakespeare Family Homes for local (CV37) residents - Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents can enjoy free entry to all five Shakespeare Family Homes and a slice of birthday cake for all, while stocks last. (Proof of address required)

Hosted by Escape Arts:

  • Community Scarecrow Festival – Stratford’s first ever Scarecrow Festival, come and see these Shakespeare-inspired scarecrow masterpieces in Bancroft Gardens directly next to the RSC from 12:00-5:00pm across the weekend, winners announced at 4pm on Sunday. All Scarecrows on display have been made by local community groups.
  • Scarecrow Crafts - Come and get creative by making your own little scarecrows out of recycled materials to take home for free!
  • Workshops – Join professional artists creating large scale scarecrows including recycled sculpture artists Ros Ingram and Ali Allen, who will be making Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Miss Havisham from Great Expectations by Charles Dickins, whilst Willow artist Spencer Jenkins will be making Neptune. Pop down and have a go yourself during these free workshops from 12:00-5:00pm.