Procession will mark 451 years

Shakespeare celebrations in Stratford. RSC

Shakespeare celebrations in Stratford. RSC

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Songs and celebration will play out in Stratford in a grand procession to mark the birth of the town’s most famous son, William Shakespeare.

Celebrations will ring out across Stratford this weekend as hundreds prepare to gather to mark 451 years since the playwright’s birth.

Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration parade

Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration parade

A procession through the streets, songs, dance and readings will all showcase the life of the writer from cradle to the grave.

The annual parade will set off at 10.30am tomorrow (Saturday). Symbolising the bard’s life in the town, the procession will pass Shakespeare’s birthplace in Henley Street before heading to his Church Street school and on to his resting place at Holy Trinity church.

VIPs, actors, scholars, costumed characters and bands will help transform the town centre - and an enormous horse-drawn birthday cake will depict the Battle of Agincourt to reflect its 600th anniversary.

Entertainment includes country dancing at the RSC theatre, a midday lunch in Avonbank Gardens, and floral tributes on the grave at 1pm.

Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration parades

Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration parades

The Great Morris Slam will take place at 4.30pm in Bancroft Gardens and a second birthday parade will begin at 10.55am on Sunday.

An organiser summed up the weekend, saying: “The commemorative events have taken place since 1824 but the aim remains the same: to remember the fascinating legacy of William Shakespeare.”

Stratford’s birthday tradition dates back more than 100 years and brings together residents and visitors in a mix of pageantry and performance.

A free Shakespeare Shop Window trail will run through the day with visitors reminded to look out for shops with black and gold balloons outside. Pick up an activity sheet from inside ballooned stores.

Visit Shakespeare for full details of the weekend events.