VisitEngland is on a mission to put St George’s Day firmly on the map. In the wake of recent national celebrations for the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and of course the Olympic Games, England is still buzzing with national pride.
With that in mind, the tourist board is calling for Englishmen and Anglofiles to get together on 23 April and celebrate our country.
The Irish enjoy a national holiday for St Patrick’s Day while the Scots go all out for St Andrew’s Day. But why should they have all the fun? Here, VisitEngland flags up some of the best events, activities and experiences to unleash your English spirit this St George’s Day.
Dragon Duels & Knight Battles
The highlight of London’s celebrations this year will be the Mayor of London's Feast of St George. Taking place on Saturday 20 April, this free event in Trafalgar Square is inspired by the 13th century origins of St George's Day, traditionally a day of feasting.
Visitors can browse stalls selling delicious food, watch cookery demonstrations and tuck in at the banqueting area while enjoying live music and dance performances by talented Londoners.
Meanwhile, the V&A Museum of Childhood will also be celebrating St George’s Day on 20 April with a day of English merriment. There’s a whole host of fun things for families to do such as music and dancing, storytelling, traditional games, and arts and crafts sessions – kids can even make their own dragon mask to take home. Admission is free.
Leicester too will be celebrating with a one day festival on Saturday 20 April, filled with fun activities for dashing knights and fair maidens. You can brush up on your maypole dancing skills, get your face painted and enjoy a re-enactment of St George slaying the dastardly dragon and rescuing the damsel in distress. Free.
Nottingham will mark England’s National Day with a St George’s Day Parade on Tuesday 23 April, in which St George himself will lead a crowd of costumed characters and a marching band through the city centre to the Old Market Square.
There will be a bouncy castle, knight battles, folk dance and traditional music, and a wide selection of tempting food and drink stalls to keep you entertained for the rest of the day. Free.
Up in Northumberland, Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens is hosting a medieval St George’s Weekend on 20 – 21 April, where visitors can join townsfolk, nobles and musicians in their celebration of the English saint’s life.
You will be treated to a re-enactment of St George’s battle with his famous foe, as well as plays and medieval music throughout the weekend. Entry costs £7.90 for adults and £4.70 for children.
Fly the Flag with Pride
Liverpool will be hosting its very first St George’s Day celebrations on Sunday 21 April. The day-long event will include the debut appearance in the city of CBBC character Mike the Knight.
The festival has been organised to promote the city’s historic St George’s Quarter and will centre around St George’s Hall and St John’s Gardens, where there’ll be a funfair and themed stalls including a hog-roast.
There will be a host of indoor fun too, with the likes of the World Museum, Walker Art Gallery and St George’s Hall running activities from medieval arts workshops and story-telling to costume dressing and a knight’s trail.
The celebration kicks off a momentous week for Liverpool with the city celebrating its inaugural Literary Festival – In Other Words – on 23 April. Free.
Grab your sword and join the St George’s Day celebrations at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, where you will witness the skills of medieval jousting knights and cheer on your favourite. Children can flex their acting skills in the interactive theatre, and immerse themselves in history exploring recreated historic campsites. Tickets cost £9.30 for adults and £5.85 for children.
If you fancy meeting the dragon slayer himself, head over to Conisbrough Castle in Doncaster on 20 or 21 April, when St George will recount the tale of how he defeated the famous dragon, and teach you the tricks you’ll need should you come across one yourself. Admission costs £4.60 for adults and £2.80 for children.
Feasts & Fayres
Quintessentially English Fortnum & Mason is celebrating St George’s Day in sumptuous style with an evening of Englishness to stir the nation’s heart and sate the stomach.
The revels begin with an Ode to St. George, and a baron of beef being drummed in by English pikemen. The menu features traditional dishes with a modern interpretation, and is accompanied with bumpers of wine. Tickets cost £75 per person.
Just outside London, The Mayor of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames cordially invites guests to her annual St George’s Day Charity Ball at Clarendon Hall in aid of The Poppy Factory and The Horse Rangers Associations. Dancing and entertainment will feature a plenty, showcasing the Jon Bennet Big Band and special guests. Tickets costs £75 per person.
March in Cambridgeshire will host St Georges Fayre on Sunday 21 April - a spring celebration of the Patron Saint of England, with a traditional market at its heart.
This year’s Fayre starts with a community parade which arrives at March Market Place for the official opening at 11am.Throughout the day there will be a range of entertainments, including traditional folk dancers and live performances on stage in the Market Place and in the High Street.
This year, the famous playwright would have turned 449 years old on St George’s Day and Stratford-Upon-Avon, his place of birth, will be celebrating the Bard's birthday with its annual weekend-long festival on 20 – 21 April.
Highlights will include a series of pageants, performances and a fun-packed programme of special theatre activities celebrating Shakespeare’s life and works. The Royal Shakespeare Company will be launching In Stitches, a new, free costume exhibition.
An ideal way to discover the Bard’s birthplace is aboard your own narrowboat as it cruises the Shakespeare Route, from Napton Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon, via the Grand Union Canal and the spectacular 21 lock Hatton Flight.
You can moor right in the heart of Stratford, avoiding the crowds and the inevitably packed hotels at the same time. Hoseasons has a range of narrowboats sleeping between two and nine; the 4-6 berth Wharfdale Valley is available for the week commencing Saturday 20th April at a cost of £680.
Finally, VisitEngland will be announcing the full and final 101 Things to Do Before You Go Abroad list on St George’s Day, covering the best of the very best English experiences as selected by a panel of experts. The recommendations will remind you of the fabulous range of experiences only available right here on your doorstep.
To find out more about England’s patron saint, check out www.visitengland.com/St-Georges-Day