|| The universally
acclaimed literary genius was born way back in 1564 and
the annual celebrations in his hometown of Stratford
are a highlight of the town’s events calendar.
From their origins in the 18th century, the birthday celebrations
have developed into a massive international occasion that bring together people from around the world.
It was the Shakespearean Festival of 1796, organised by
the famous actor David Garrick that first established
Stratford as a place of literary pilgrimage.
During the 19th century the idea of holding annual celebrations
in honour of the poet was gradually established. The tercentenary
of Shakespeare’s birth in 1864 marked the next big
step forward, with a three-week celebration held
in a wooden tent on Stratford’s riverside. In 1879,
when the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (the
predecessor to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) was built,
the first of the annual seasons of Shakespeare’s
plays was established in Stratford.
The Bard’s birthday celebrations are usually held
on the Saturday nearest to April 23rd – Shakespeare’s
birthday. The traditional core events are a procession
to lay floral tributes on William Shakespeare’s
tomb, a birthday lunch, and a birthday performance of
one of his plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre [map] .
Since the early years of last century it has been the
custom to invite representatives from other countries
to attend the celebrations, and the procession features
the ceremonial unfurling of national and other flags in
the main streets of the town.
Celebratory events span the whole weekend and include
the Shakespeare Marathon and half marathon - for
anyone feeling especially energetic!