SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai
Stratford-upon-Avon in south Warwickshire, England draws visitors from around the world who are keen to know about the place where William Shakespeare was born. It is also among the favourite spots for Indian travellers, most of whom have studied the works of Shakespeare in school. “I do believe that Shakespeare’s birthplace is quite iconic for a lot of Indian visitors. Most Indians have studied Shakespeare’s works and it is very interesting for them to see where he grew up. We also have the Holy Trinity Church which is just down the road where Shakespeare is buried so you can also visit his grave,” said Debbie Beardall, trade & education development manager, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon. She pointed out that in the birthplace garden there is a bust of Rabindranath Tagore. Many Indians are pleasantly surprised when they come across the statue of Tagore. The bronze bust is in the garden of the house where Shakespeare was born in Henley Street.
A number of big events are lined up for the year 2014 – the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. “There will be many events to mark the special occasion on April 23. Normally it is a weekend of celebration, but next year we hope to have a year-long programme of different events,” said Beardall. The celebrations will be bigger and better, in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre in London. 2016 is the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare and many events are lined up for the year as well.
Beardall informed that there are many happenings in Stratford-upon-Avon all through the year – food festival, music festival, poetry festival, even a river festival. “Indian visitors will always find something happening in the area. And because we are so close to Birmingham there is always the attraction of shopping. Warwick Castle is nearby, also the Cotswolds are just outside Stratford. We also have interesting National Trust properties. Instead of coming for a few hours to Stratford they could stay overnights – we have some great hotels from bed and breakfast to five-star properties,” she said. Beardall remarked that Stratford is close to Birmingham, which has a diverse Indian community. It is also just half an hour away from Leicester, which has a large Indian community as well.