We love these amazing images of last month’s Shakespeare Parade in Stratford-upon-Avon

Missed out on last month’s Shakespeare Parade celebrations in Stratford? Luckily for us, Shakespeare fanatic Emma Wheatley was there with camera in hand. Here’s her street-level report of the day’s highlights…

Saturday 26 April saw the annual Shakespeare Parade in Stratford-upon-Avon. And with the world celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth, this year’s event was bigger and more significant than ever. Taking my place on the parade route, I eagerly waited for the festivities to begin…

1 parade
The day began with the awakening of Lady Godiva outside Shakespeare’s birthplace. Lady Godiva featured in the 2012 Olympics and played a prominent role in the parade. The 20-foot-tall mechanical puppet was quite magnificent to witness, and took pride of place leading the People’s Parade.

 

2 parade
The big birthday cake was pulled by two parade horses – the cake itself was decorated by local school children and community groups. It was great to see such community spirit coming to the fore.

 

3 parade
The annual handing over of the quill from ‘Shakespeare’ to the head boy of King Edward VI’s school (which Shakespeare himself attended as a boy). The head boy then took the quill and led the parade to Holy Trinity Church where it was placed with the bust of Shakespeare that overlooks his grave.

 

4 parade
After unfurling flags from around the world, this special flag was revealed to the crowd, accompanied by a rousing round of ‘Happy Birthday’.

 

5 parade
The parade featured numerous re-enactors, with many coming from Mary Arden’s farm. This photo I think highlighted how much effort the participants went to. The man was hailing a group of small children who were calling out Tudor greetings to the parade.

 

6 parade
The Shakespeare Morris Men taking part in the parade.

 

7 parade
A paper mache creation of Titania, Queen of the Fairies. Created by the RSC and community groups. It was great to see such imaginative interpretations of Shakespeare’s well-loved characters.
8 parade
Banners outside the RSC to represent the plays in rep this season, unveiled by actors of the current company.

 

9 parade
Lady Godiva reaches Waterside and the waiting crowds. Taken from the first floor of the RSC, it shows the sheer height and grace of Godiva.

 

10 parade
The closed doors of Holy Trinity Church, shortly before they opened to the crowds. People were leaving flowers and attaching them to the gates – a way of paying their respects to Shakespeare.

 

11 parade
Inside Holy Trinity Church, reopened to the public after the parade participants had laid their flowers down. This colourful and overwhelming display of flowers filled the chancel in which Shakespeare and his family are buried.

 

12 parade
Shakespeare’s grave and memorial statue, which was commissioned shortly after his death in 1616. In Shakespeare’s right hand is the same quill that was key to the parade.

With the rain holding off, the whole day was fantastic and it was great to celebrate Shakespeare’s life with like-minded people. Now, 450 years after his birth in 1564, it’s clear that Shakespeare’s legacy is alive and stronger than ever.

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