STRATFORD staged the 459th birthday celebrations of its most famous son at the weekend.
The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations transformed the town into a centre of pomp and pageatry once again for a packed-programme of events.
Crowds lined the streets for the annual birthday parade on Saturday morning (April 22) featuring dignitaries from around the world and closer to home, school children, ‘Mr Shakespeare’ and a plethora of local organisations.
The VIP procession paraded to Bridge Street for the unfurling of the flags before proceeding to Holy Trinity Church in Old Town via High Street, Chapel Street and Church Street, where flowers were placed on Shakespeare’s grave.
The official Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon was then held in the Theatre Gardens from 12 noon.
The lunch for 350 guests, hosted by Alexander Armstrong, was attended by the likes of actress Alex Kingston, performer Marisha Wallace, Jack and Jemma Savoretti, Rebekah and Charlie Brooks, Ronni Ancona, John and Phoebe Hitchcox, Katherine Kingsley, Dame Janet Suzman, English historian Michael Wood OBE, Viscount and Viscountess Boyne, Francie Cain, Lord and Lardy Daventry,
The star-studded event also saw Greg Doran, Artist Director Emeritus of the Royal Shakespeare Company, awarded the 2023 Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.
On Sunday (April 23) the celebrations continued with the arrival of Mr Shakespeare at the Town Hall to ceremoniously offer the Quill to the King Edward VI Captain of School.
A procession then accompanied the Quill to Holy Trinity Church where The Shakespeare Service took place.
The service included the Shakespeare Sermon and performance of verse and music from members of the current RSC ensemble.