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Shakespeare Birthplace Trust brings the circus to town for annual Birthday celebrations

Fun for all ages

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be celebrating Shakespeare’s 453rd birthday on Saturday 22 April, with all the fun of the circus, featuring professional entertainers from Fool’s Paradise, alongside performances from local community groups. The free, family-friendly programme will run all day in Henley Street, outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace, with plenty of opportunities to join in and meet our varied range of performers. Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents* can enjoy free entry to the Shakespeare houses and a slice of birthday cake, while stocks last. (*proof of address required) 

PT Barnum presents Shakespeare’s Circus

22 April, 12pm – 4pm: Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Meet our ringmaster, the larger-than-life American circus owner and showman Barnum, who has an audacious plan to ship Shakespeare’s Birthplace to his museum of curiosities in New York.  His troupe includes:

-     The amazing man on the moon.  Eccentric clown and slack wire dancer George Orange calls on audiences to help him achieve a spectacular walk across his moon.

-     Interactive hula hooping walkabout and workshops by the irresistible Angie Mack, who guarantees to get everyone hooping – whether you’re 8 or 80.

-     Magical Butterfly by Amy Amelia Arts enchants with her spellbinding skill of contact juggling, making crystal balls float in front of your eyes.

-     Restoration Ladies by Circo Rum Ba Ba Stilts.  Madame Ovary and Cecily Bumtrinket, dressed to the nines in court fashions Shakespeare would recognise, give a cheeky and flirty stilt performance that cannot fail to raise a laugh.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture: The State of Shakespeare: with theatre reviewer Michael Billington OBE

21 April, 4pm – 5pm: Shakespeare Institute, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Tickets: £10 and can be purchased online

Join us for an hour packed with insights and memories from the UK.'s longest serving and much-loved drama critic. Michael Billington first started writing for The Guardian in 1971, and is no less than a treasure-trove of Shakespeare in performance. Michael will be in conversation with Professor Michael Dobson (University of Birmingham) about Shakespeare in the theatre then, now, and in the future.

A Walk in Shakespeare's Garden - a theatrical experience appealing to the five senses

21 and 22 April, 2pm: Shakespeare's New Place, Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

This promenade-performance, which debuted in Milan last April for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, will be heading to Shakespeare's hometown in 2017. A Walk in Shakespeare's Garden reveals Shakespeare’s deep love and knowledge of the natural world and particularly of gardens. Spectators can hear this untold story, watch scenes from Hamlet, The Tempest, Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Richard II, and enjoy the songs and music of the Elizabethan age – as they walk among the plants, flowers and trees in the beautiful Great Garden at New Place, the site of Shakespeare's final home. Free entry for Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents (proof of address required).

Shakespeare’s Birthday: Knights & Nymphs Children’s Garden Party

22 April, 12pm - 4pm: Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon                   

The annual Knights and Nymphs garden party is a must for those little people ready to celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday in style. Dress up as a Knight or a Nymph, get your face painted and indulge in our delicious barbeque. With our Tudor storyteller on hand to tell tales of the birthday boy and his works, there’s plenty of fun for all the family. Free entry for Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents (proof of address required).

Act up with Shakespeare Aloud

22 April (11am – 2pm) and 23 April (11am-4pm): Shakespeare's New Place, Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive. Join the actors from Shakespeare Aloud for an afternoon of interactive acting workshops in the Great Garden. Free entry for Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents (proof of address required).

Free Entry to Harvard House

22 April, 12pm – 4pm: Harvard House, High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon         

To celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, Harvard House is opening its doors to the public free of charge. Explore Stratford’s oldest town house and discover its connections with the famous American university.