WILLIAM Shakespeare’s 450th birthday was celebrated in style in his home town.
Thousands descended on Stratford for the party which included a massive horse drawn birthday cake, made by Escape Community Arts, and a six metre high mechanised Lady Godiva puppet – made for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad – who waved at the crowds who lined the streets of the town centre.
There was also everything from Shakespeare look-a-likes to a samba band, and 450 black and gold balloons were released into the sky, from which fortunately, the rain forecast rain failed to materialise, allowing the flag unfurling, formal procession to Holy Trinity, and the People’s Pageant a dry run.
Business leaders, ambassadors from many parts of the world including Russia, Japan and Spain, politicians including Lord Deben, a member of Margaret Thatcher’s government, and leading figures from the arts world gathered in a giant marquee in Stratford’s theatre gardens for the sell-out Birthday Lunch attended by more than 600 people.
The principal speakers were Lord Digby Jones, a leading ambassador for industry, the Irish ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Nicholas Hytner, creative director of the National Theatre, Booker Prize novelist Hilary Mantel, Labour peer Baroness Joan Bakewell and Shakespeare academic Professor Stanley Wells.