Christmas in Stratford upon Avon - A great time to visit - come and join us
Christmas Lights switch-on
3D Light Spectacular
Christmas Day Guided walking tour
Stratford upon Avon is a truly magical place and particularly at Christmas time. The half timbered buildings blend comfortably with the brightly lit Christmas window displays of modern times. There are a host of smaller shops selling unique gifts, paintings, books, antiques and lifestyle goodies. Festive markets and late night shopping provide so much scope to find that special present.
The Christmas festivities begin on Thursday 21 November with the Christmas Lights switch-on event taking place at around 4.30pm at the Town Hall. Then a spectacular lightshow will be projected onto one of the world's most famous buildings, William Shakespeare's Birthplace on Henley Street. This will be the first time such an event has ever taken place in Stratford upon Avon.
So, starting at the Town Hall, a huge crowd of residents, children from local schools and visitors from all over the world wait expectantly. There is carol singing and the exciting arrival of Santa Claus and then the countdown to the big switch-on. With a flick of a switch the town hall and streets of Stratford are ablaze with a myriad of twinkling lights. A roar of approval erupts from those gathered and it is clear that Christmas in Stratford has officially started.
The festivities then move on to Henley Street where actors will be performing in the street, Santa Claus may put in an appearance, a local choir will be singing Christmas Carols outside Shakespeare's Birthhplace and Stratford's James Roe MBE and Jackie Horton from the Guide Dog's Charity Shakespeare Puppies will be present, with the delightful puppies. Touch FM will be covering the event, along with other television companies. A stall will be selling mulled wine and hot chocolate and a vast array of shops will be open during the evening, not forgetting the Christmas Market. At 5.45pm a 3D Lightshow will be projected onto Shakespeare's Birthplace. There will be four weeks of performances, with the lightshow taking place four times every evening at 4.30pm, 5.00pm, 5.30pm and 6.00pm from Friday 22nd November until Thursday 19th December 2013. The actual show will last for about 5 minutes each time with other projections on the Birthplace playing in between performances.
There are quaint restaurants, pubs, hotels and tea rooms in abundance. A hot mince pie with cream and a cup of hot chocolate heaped high with scrumptious calories are 'a must' after a successful shopping expedition. Try and secure a seat by the window to watch the world go by, or relax by a roaring log fire.
Don't miss one of the guided walks over Christmas and the New Year. It is the ideal way to take some gentle exercise and discover the delights of Stratford and all it has to offer. The walk on Christmas Day starts a little earlier than usual, at 10.30am from Waterside, opposite the junction of Sheep Street. No need to book just turn up - and back in time for lunch!
Stratford Town Walk guides wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations - a great time to visit Stratford, come and join us!
Imagine the scene. Non stop torrential rain, the Bancroft Gardens awash with sludge and water, the ladies' long dresses trailing in the mud and the fireworks nothing more than a damp squid! Sound familiar? It's the Shakespeare Celebrations 1769, the origin of our present Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations.
William Shakespeare died in April 1616. Devotees of the great man began to visit Stratford to experience the town of his birth. These visits gained momentum and the importance of Stratford as a visitor centre, with William Shakespeare as the catalyst, took increasing hold. By 1768 the new Town Hall had been completed and an empty alcove at the front of the building, had been included into the structure to accommodate a statue of William Shakespeare. Town dignitaries decided it would be a coup if David Garrick, a renowned Shakespearian actor of that time could be persuaded to formally present the required statue. A Stratford delegation was sent to seek Garrick's agreement and succeeded by offering him Freedom of the Town. Garrick, wishing to ensure that the presentation was afforded due status, initiated the organisation of a three day Stratford Jubilee to compliment the occasion and suitably honour Shakespeare. Some of this adulation might rub off on Garrick himself perhaps. The 6th - 8th September 1769 were set aside for the event. A wooden amphitheatre to accommodate 1000 people for the festivities was built close to where the present Royal Shakespeare Theatre now stands. Canons lined the river bank to sound the start of proceedings. A pageant, fireworks, food, drink and horse racing would surely make a fitting celebration. Things went well on the first day but then the rain started - and it rained and rained and rained - non stop. Good intentions turned into a washout - although towards the end of the third day the weather improved and those present made the best of a bad job.
The statue of William Shakespeare presented by David Garrick all those years ago still occupies its lofty Town Hall perch. Its stony, somewhat bemused stare will view silently those walking the ancient streets below its feet, honouring the birth of the Bard. Let's hope it doesn't rain.
The Birthday Celebrations continue and are held in April. They feature a 'myriad of exciting and vibrant spectacles' for adults and children alike. These include street theatre, Shakespeare Morris Men, Children's Country Dancing, Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the Coventry Corps of Drums. The procession of distinguished guests from all over the world make their way slowly through the streets, on to Holy Trinity Church where the Bard is buried and lay flowers and wreaths on his grave. Crowds line the route and point excitedly at famous faces they recognise. The atmosphere is electric.
Other unique events include the Birthday Lecture, the ceremony of unfurling the flags of nations, the Birthday Luncheon, annual Shakespeare service at Holy Trinity Church and much more.
Stratford Town Walk provide a guided walk every day during the Shakespeare Celebrations weekend. It is the ideal way to find out all about William Shakespeare, his life and family and the town he knew so well.
Exact details for the 2014 Birthday Celebrations will be released nearer the time.
For more information about the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations programme click here