A host of special events in Stratford-upon-Avon is set to draw crowds of thousands of locals as well as UK and international tourists to the area for the festivities on Saturday 27 April and Sunday 28 April.
Organisers are hoping the festivities will be able to top the 2018 event which saw £3 million spend in the local economy as a direct result of the festival.
The celebration parade and flag unfurling ceremony on the Saturday will see huge crowds line the streets of the town with the weekend of celebrations culminating on the Sunday with Shakespeare’s quill being carried from his Birthplace to be placed in the hand of the effigy of the Bard which overlooks his grave at Holy Trinity Church.
Street entertainment is a prominent feature of the celebrations with the National Living Statue Championship returning to the town for 2019, drawing international champions in the art of living statue performance to the region, along with an array of other fun activities and competitions.
Helen Peters, CEO of Shakespeare’s England said, “In 2018, more than 10 million tourist trips were made to visit the home of Shakespeare with his birthday celebrations being a peak period for international and domestic travellers and bringing nearly £3 million to the local economy across the weekend of celebrations.
“These impressive figures show how important the legacy of Shakespeare is to the area and how key it is for the local community to continue supporting his birthday celebrations.”
Cllr Maurice Howse, Business, Tourism and ICT Portfolio at Stratford-on-Avon District Council said, “The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations are a great occasion for residents and visitors alike.
“Seeing participants and visitors enjoy the Birthday Parade and other cultural and heritage attractions, stay in our hotels and guest houses and eat in our restaurants over the two-day event is vital for our local economy and for the future development of the Shakespeare’s Celebrations experience.”
Dr Delia Garratt, Director of Cultural Engagement at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, added: “Stratford is a global meeting place for people to come together to celebrate the life, times and works of William Shakespeare, and the Birthday Celebrations are the high point of our year.
“This, of course, is an extra special year as it marks the 250th anniversary of the prominent actor and theatre manager David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee here in Stratford. Held in 1769, it is considered to be the event that established Shakespeare as a playwright and poet of international and enduring significance, and started the Shakespeare tourism industry in the town.”
Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: “Shakespeare is for everyone, and the annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations are a fantastic opportunity for people from all walks of life to engage with the life of history’s most celebrated playwright and poet.
“Stratford is a globally renowned tourist attraction for the quality of its entertainment, education and tourism industry, and there is something special about enjoying the work of William Shakespeare in his physical and spiritual home.”