2024 Programme

Saturday 20 April, 2024

  • 9:30am – Civic Coffee Reception at the Town Hall – (by invitation only).
  • 9:45am – 10:15am – Band entertains assembling crowds at the top of Bridge Street and returns to Sheep Street to lead the VIP procession.
  • From 10:00am – Mustering commences in the Bancroft Gardens, near the Swan Fountain, where Marshals will be on duty to assemble guests in parade order.
  • 10:10am – 10:30am The town’s primary school children gather in Waterside outside the Encore from10:10 onwards. Led by the Air Training Corps Band (ATC), they moved off at 10:30am to assemble in upper Bridge Street for the arrival of the procession. The ATC Bank will then return to Waterside down Bridge Street to lead the parade.
  • 10:35am – Guests parade from the Bancroft Gardens to flag positions in High Street and the sides of Bridge Street.
  • 10:40am – Diplomats, and other principal guests process from the Town Hall to Bridge Street for the flag unfurling ceremony. Parade route: Sheep Street, Waterside and Bridge Street.
  • 10:45am – Dignitaries and Diplomats, led by the Lord Lieutenant, arrive at flag positions in the central column in Bridge Street.
  • 10:46am – ‘Mr Shakespeare’ reaches the arena from the Birthplace, having collected the Quill. He ascends the dais where Amelia Underwood-King serenades him with Happy Birthday. The Beadle and Town Criers will chorus “Hip, Hip, Hooray”. ‘Let the Celebrations Begin’ Mr Shakespeare holds up the Quill, followed by a fanfare.
  • 11:00am – The Union Flag is unfurled by the Lord Lieutenant. All flags will then be unfurled simultaneously thereafter. The National Anthem will immediately follow, sung Amelia Underwood-King.
  • 11:04am – In recognition of its 200th anniversary, the Shakespeare Club of Stratford-upon-Avon, the oldest Shakespeare Society in the world, will lead the Birthday Parade behind the band of the Air Training Corps. Students from King Edward VI Schools and local primary schools children will follow.
  • 11:20am – The WMFS Band will accompany the Civic Procession and other guests from Bridge Street and adjoining streets, along High Street, Chapel Street, Church Street and Old Town to the church.
  • 11:28am – The Compere invites spectators, intent on going to church to lay flowers, to join the end of the Procession as it moves into High Street. Shakespeare Morris will follow.
  • 11:40am – The Procession will pass through Holy Trinity Church, depositing flowers at Shakespeare’s grave.
  • 11:50am – The Procession is now over
  • From 12 noon – The official Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon will be held in the Theatre Gardens. This is a ticketed event which is independently organised.

Sunday 21 April, 2024

10:00am Civic Coffee Reception at the Town Hall from 10:00am onwards (by invitation only).
10:30am Mr Shakespeare arrives at the Town Hall and ceremoniously offers the Quill to the King Edward VI Captain of School.
10:50amA Procession from the Town Hall to Holy Trinity Church via Chapel Street, Church Street, Old Town, led by the ATC Band.
10:55amKing Edward VI Captain of School takes the Quill in procession to Holy Trinity Church.
11:15amThe Shakespeare Service in Holy Trinity Church, during which the Quill will be received and placed in the hand of Shakespeare above his grave, includes the preaching of the Shakespeare Sermon by Alison Shell, Professor of English at University College, London. Members of the current RSC ensemble will also perform verse and music.

All timings stated are subject to change, but details were correct at the time of going to press.