THE SHAKESPEARE Birthday celebrations in Stratford are set for a carnival-style makeover.
The annual festivities marking the Bard’s birthday – which traditionally take place in his home town on the Saturday closest to his acknowledged April 23 birth date – are set to be extended over several days from next year and will include a parade of floats.
Sarah Summers, spokesperson for organisers Shakespeare’s Celebrations, said: “Such was the positive feedback from visitors, local residents and businesses following the wonderful event in 2016, it quickly became clear to us that keeping the event fresh and exciting to watch and be involved with is key to its success going forward.
“From 2018 we have great plans for a new and bigger carnival event over several days which we want the whole town to feel part of.
“It will be a must for families and lovers of everything Shakespeare! The Birthday Parade itself will undergo something of a transformation, with tableaux aboard floats – both wheeled and walking – depicting great works of literature.
“They will be processing through the streets and coming to rest in Waterside. The floats will be judged and a ‘Best in Show’ awarded for both wheeled and walking displays. We are really excited about it all and we’ll be providing more details about what will be happening and how to take part next year in the coming months.”
The makeover follows the success of last year celebration of Shakespeare’s legacy to mark the 400th anniversary of his death – also on April 23 – in 1616.
Last year’s traditional cradle to the grave procession even included a New Orleans jazz band, and Bard masks were also handed out to people lining the route from his birthplace in Henley Street to Holy Trinity Church where he is buried.
This year’s parade, taking place on April 22, will see more marching bands and the return of the tickertape explosions on Bridge Street as it moves off towards the church.
And a sonnet penned by the Bard will be presented to spectators lining the route – with one lucky person receiving the ‘Golden Sonnet’ which brings with it a ‘great prize’ details of which have yet to be revealed.
The annual celebrations started back in 824, and are currently organised by Shakespeare’s Celebrations – jointly led by Stratford town and district councils respectively, working closely with other organisations in the town.
Visit www.shakespearescelebrations.com for further details.