Located in rural Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is a beautiful place steeped in history and culture. What’s more, 2014 marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and to celebrate, the town will be hosting a number of events.
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23, 1564, Shakespeare is arguably one of the world’s most famous playwrights. His plays like Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Knight and Macbeth have been read by millions of people across the globe. The year 2014 is a very exciting one for Shakespeare’s England as it marks his 450th anniversary, and to celebrate, a number of productions, events, festivals and exhibitions have been planned throughout the year.
On April 23 the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will be celebrating with a firework display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 10.30pm after their evening performance. There will also be an extended programme of events taking place from the evening of April 25 at the five Shakespeare family homes, along with free entertainment in the streets and parks in town over the weekend. The RSC will also be running a range of free activities for the whole family in and around its theatres on April 26. This will include storytelling sessions, stage fighting workshops and the chance to see how fake scars are created. You can also hear the actors reading out sonnets on a ferry travelling across the river. On April 24 the Holy Trinity Church will launch a new three-year global singing project by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust to mark the playright’s birth and death. The concert will feature for the very first time, a new piece by award-winning composer Gary Carpenter.
In fact, thousands of visitors are expected to visit town on the weekend of April 26 and 27 to take part in the birthday celebrations. A 1,000 strong procession will kick things off. The group will parade through the centre of town and finish with the laying of flowers on Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church.
This will be followed with a community parade where spectators are invited to join in with costumed players and musicians.
If you enjoy visiting exhibitions, then you won’t want to miss the Famous Beyond Words’ exhibition organised by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which explores the story of William Shakespeare, the boy from Stratford-upon-Avon who became a household name all over the world. Discover what sparked the writer’s imagination and how he continues to shape our lives today.
Other must see attractions on the Shakespeare trail include; Mary Arden’s Farm, Nash’s House and New Place, the playwright’s birthplace on Henley Street and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Even as you walk across the 800-year-old market you can’t help but feel in awe of the historic buildings, many of which Shakespeare will have probably walked past himself. As you walk around town, there are plenty of independent coffee shops you can stop at to quench your thirst. There are also plenty of pubs and a few bars around to make your way to at night.
If you can drag yourself away from Shakespeare for a moment then there are a number of other beautiful places you can visit such as Bancroft Gardens, Chedham’s Yard, The Butterfly Farm, The MAD Museum and of course don’t forget to step on one of the open-air bus tours for a quicker way to get around. Evening ghost walks around the city are also a firm favourite.
The easiest way to get around the cobbled streets is of course on foot, however there are other options such as local buses, The Shakespeare Express or you can even hire one of the river boats or cruises to get around.