I’ve lived in Stratford Upon Avon all my life so you may be shocked to hear that I had never been to Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations until this weekend. I know that’s probably really hard to believe. I suppose when you live amongst the thriving tourist industry that we do, you kind of just take it all for granted and go with the flow. This year however, was different. I went along as part of National Express’ National Wonders Tour to find out whether this is really how the UK like to spend a day.
What is the National Wonders Tour?
National Express are currently touring the length and breadth of the UK on their National Wonders tour. They are celebrating all of the craziest and quirkiest events that happen in and around our beautiful British Isles. National Express invited me along to Shakespeare’s 454th Birthday Parade and Celebrations on 21st April in Stratford Upon Avon and as I had never been before, I was looking forward to embracing the traditions of my hometown.
A Day Of Celebration
We arrived early in the town as we know it is a very popular event. Many people travel from near and far to spend the day in the town centre celebrating the birth of our famous Bard. It was a beautiful, hot and sunny day and the town had a fantastic vibe to it, despite not being overly busy early on.
There were many things planned throughout the day. Street performers such as Morris Men and Circus Acts along with singing groups and a National Living Statue Championship. Alongside all of this was the Market Village which had a whole host of tasty foods for visitors to try.
Shakespeare’s Birthday Parade
By the time the parade started at around 10.15, the town had really got busy and getting up the streets was tricky. We managed to find a spot so we could bring you some fantastic pictures. Take a look at the pictures below. It was a site to behold.
Seeing the children from the local schools take part was really lovely. There were appearances from King Edward School for boys, where Shakespeare himself studied as a boy. The cutest thing was seeing the primary school children proudly taking part in their school uniform. Don’t they look adorable?
The Arrival Of Shakespeare
After the procession had passed through, a very large cake appeared and it was transported to the very centre of the town and stopped in front of all of the crowd. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and then all of a sudden William Shakespeare himself popped out of the cake!
He’s not looking bad for 454, is he?!
After William Shakespeare did his rounds and the flags from all over the world were unfurled, the procession continued with local people from various businesses, schools and organisations. The effort that all involved went to was tremendous.
The Market Village
There was no chance of going hungry on this National Wonders tour. The Market Village put on a feast for the five thousand with a huge array of tasty treats for all taste buds.
National Living Statue Championship
We’ve all seen the amazing living statues that grace us with their presence in the towns of the UK. Well, this year at the Birthday celebrations they held a National Living Statue Championship and I have to say, they were incredible. Not only were they fabulously made up but they all deserved an award for not melting in the heat under all of the spectacular clothes and makeup. How on earth they stayed so still, I will never know!
Great Atmosphere With Lots To See And Do
I have to say, there was never a dull moment during my National Wonders tour of Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations. The atmosphere on the streets was second to none, everyone was having a wonderful time. There was face painting and balloon animal making for the children. I also loved all of the fabulous fancy dress that passed you by on every street.
A National Wonder Indeed
I have to say, I was very impressed with my trip to Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations. As I mentioned earlier, I have lived in Stratford Upon Avon for over thirty years. I’ve grown up with Shakespeare and the tourist industry that comes with it. As locals, I feel we can possibly take a lot of it all for granted. There was a huge feeling of pride and patriotism in me as I stood and watched the whole town come together to celebrate the man that made it famous. Thousands of people come to Stratford every year and I can now see why. Looking at it through different eyes, I can see that it really is a wonderful place and a national wonder indeed! One thing is for certain, we sure know how to put on a Birthday party!
Before the day was out, I needed to do something that all tourists do when they come to Stratford. Now, I have always said that over the years, I must have been in hundreds of other people’s photos when they took their snapshots of the Bard’s birthplace. It was finally time to get my own photo!
National Express can take you to many fabulous National Wonders throughout the UK, including my lovely Stratford Upon Avon. Find out how at the National Express website.
Written in collaboration with National Express