When balloon arches appear on Henley Street it can only mean one thing...time for Fun Palaces! Fun Palaces is a nationwide celebration of the Arts and Sciences, promoting culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has been running the event every year since 2015. This year, the Trust was 1 of 433 Fun Palaces taking place across the country.
The team were watching the weather forecast religiously all week and this time, the forecasters did indeed get it right, the day was a complete wash out. We were more than a little relieved that we’d made the decision to move the event inside the Shakespeare Centre this year!
The weather didn’t stop people venturing out though and we were delighted to welcome 350 visitors through the balloon arches of this year’s Fun Palace. There was a huge range of activities on offer for our visitors. We ran quill writing, badge making, ruff decorating, dressing up, mask making and hair-braiding, Tudor-style. We were also delighted to be joined by the Wise Woman from Mary Arden’s Farm who offered a range of remedies for our visitors’ maladies and assisted them in making Tudor tussie-mussies and herb pillows. We had fabulous performances from Shakespeare’s Morris Dancers, Stratford Drama Club and Palmer’s Noise. Our very own Access Volunteer also taught us all how to sign the songs, ‘Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Yes We Have No Bananas’ in Makaton.
A range of our fabulous partners were also running hands-on activities. The team from Warwick University’s School of Life Sciences were re-enacting biological warfare by besieging a castle with plague infected jelly babies. We have worked with the Life Sciences department for a number of years now and Fun Palaces has become synonymous with jelly babies! Pupils from The Ogden Trust presented a range of science activities and there were lots of squeals of delight as paper mice were rocketed across the room!
Fun Palaces visitors were also treated to incredibly imaginative face painting by Funtastic Faces; magical story-telling and book making from Kate’s Storytree; a fascinating insight into the process of stain glass window making from Holdsworth Windows and the opportunity to produce LEGO animations at Stratford Library.
We are incredibly grateful to our partners and the staff and volunteers from across the Trust, who worked so hard to bring the Arts and Sciences to life for all of our visitors. There was a wonderful atmosphere all day with visitors of all ages meeting new people, making new discoveries and most importantly having fun! Our favourite feedback form said: ‘I had 10/10 fun!’ Well, we can’t ask for more than that!
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s fifth Fun Palace will be held on the weekend of 5 and 6 October 2019!