What’s on at the Shakespeare family homes for 2020

As we kick off 2020, you can discover more about the works, life and times of William Shakespeare at the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Visit the house where Shakespeare was born and grew up; enjoy the beautiful gardens of his lost family home; experience the sights, sounds and smells of the working Tudor farm where his mother spent her childhood; see the beautiful 500-year-old cottage where he courted his bride-to-be; and explore the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of his eldest daughter Susanna.

Enjoy one of the many special events that take place throughout the year at the five Shakespeare family homes, which are cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), the independent charity that promotes the global enjoyment and understanding of the world’s greatest playwright.

New for 2020, try out the Shakespeare XR visitor experience, which combines augmented reality and virtual reality to take you ‘inside’ Shakespeare’s New Place, his grand family home in Stratford-upon-Avon that was demolished 260 years ago.

Activities are included with admission, unless otherwise stated, and carers go free to all houses and events. For more information, to plan your visit and to buy tickets, see www.shakespeare.org.uk/events.

Shakespeare Week Super Saturday Family Fun Day
21 March, 12.00pm–4.00pm
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford
Join the annual nationwide celebration of Shakespeare by taking part in fun-filled activities, including workshops by Horrible Histories‘ illustrator, Martin Brown, and Ricky Martin from CBBC’s Art Ninja, as well as performances, storytelling and crafts. Part of Shakespeare Week (16–22 March), a national annual celebration giving primary school-aged children opportunities for enriching and enjoyable early experiences of Shakespeare. www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/whats-on/shakespeare-week-super-saturday/

Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations
25–26 April
To mark William Shakespeare’s 456th birthday, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is planning a special programme of celebrations in honour of Stratford’s most famous son and the world’s greatest playwright. On Saturday 25 April, feast your senses on a table of entertainment and merriment inspired by Birthday Celebrations past. The free, family-friendly programme will run between 11.00am–4.00pm on Henley Street, right in front of the very house where Shakespeare was born. Throughout the weekend Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents can enjoy free entry to all Shakespeare Family Homes (proof of address required). On Saturday 25 April, visitors will be treated to a free slice of birthday cake while stocks last. www.shakespeare.org.uk.

The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture
24 April, 4.00pm, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon
Lena Cowen Orlin, Professor of English at Georgetown University, Washington DC, presents a fascinating new insight on Shakespeare’s memorial bust in Holy Trinity Church. The lecture is presented in partnership with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and University of Birmingham. Tickets: £10.00; SBT Friends £8.00. Call 01789 339804.

Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival
10–14 June
A four-day festival of readings, participation and performance that will explore the contemporary resonance of the depiction of the natural world within Shakespeare’s works, organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with events at various venues around Stratford-upon-Avon. www.shakespeare.org.uk.

Be Inspired, Shakespeare and Me
Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon
This permanent exhibition helps tell the story of leading 18th century actor David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee held in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769, with rarely seen museum items relating to the Jubilee from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s internationally recognised collections; also find out through first-hand testimonies how William Shakespeare has inspired other actors, artists, literary figures and Shakespearians all over the world.

After Hours
Unique talks and creative workshops in the surroundings of the historic Shakespeare family homes, once they are closed to the public.

John Hall, Master of Physicke: A Casebook from Shakespeare’s Stratford
8 February, 5.30pm–7.00pm
Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon
Dr Paul Edmondson, Head of Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, will give an illustrated talk on the first complete Latin–English translation of the medical casebook of prominent physician John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law, with a post-talk discussion. Copies of the book will be on sale. Tickets £10.00 Adult, £8.00 Concession, £5.00 Friends, available from any of the Shakespeare Family Homes, on 01789 204016, www.shakespeare.org.uk/whats-on.

Research Conversations
Come and listen to people who are engaged in research, often in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s own museum, library and archive collections, and join in with post-talk discussion led by our head of research, Dr Paul Edmondson.

An Unresolved Feud? The curious case of the Guild accounts
8 January, 5.00pm–6.00pm
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Guild Chapel researcher Sandra MacDonald explores the improbable contribution of the Stratford Herald to the 19th century craze for serialisation in newspapers, magazines and periodicals. Under the auspices of the Stratford Town Corporation, the Herald published the medieval accounts of the Guild of the Holy Cross in weekly instalments from 1885/86, provoking an acrimonious feud between Shakespeare scholar, James Halliwell-Phillipps, and Charles Flower, Chairman of the Corporation’s Record Committee, which resulted in a rift with the whole corporation that was never resolved.

The Bisexual Voices of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
12 February, 5.00pm–6.00pm,
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Join us for a talk and Q&A on how we might recognise Shakespeare’s poems’ many-sided genders and sexualities, and how we might set them free in our time and culture. Featuring special guest Luke Turner, author of the bisexual memoir Out of the Woods, and presented as part of the OUTing The Past, an annual celebration of LGBT+ history.

Collections Cream Teas
An opportunity to see the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s museum, library and archives collection up close, and chat to our experts over a traditional English cream tea.

Texts through Time
20 January, 2.00pm–4.00pm
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
See an original quarto and folio of Shakespeare’s works up-close and get to know the colourful characters who have taken on the challenge of editing them over the past 400 years, before enjoying a cream tea overlooking Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Tickets £14.00 per person, £10.00 Friends, available from any of the Shakespeare Family Homes, on 01789 204016, www.shakespeare.org.uk/whats-on.

Excavating the Collection
17 February, 2.00pm–4.00pm
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
See some of the Prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts to finds from Shakespeare’s times that are in SBT’s collections; learn more about the history of the Stratford district through its material culture, before enjoying a cream tea overlooking Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Tickets £14.00 per person, £10.00 Friends, from any of the Shakespeare Family Homes, on 01789 204016, www.shakespeare.org.uk/whats-on.

The Secret Lives of Early Printed Books
16 March, 2.00pm–4.00pm
The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Discover some of SBT’s most important books and how previous owners marked their ownership, before enjoying a cream tea overlooking Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Tickets £14.00 per person, £10.00 Friends, available from any of the Shakespeare Family Homes, on 01789 204016, www.shakespeare.org.uk/whats-on.


Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Explore the house where he was born and grew up. See an original folio of his works, hear tales of his family life, enjoy live theatre on demand from our Shakespeare Aloud! acting company.

Conservation in Action
6 January–20 February
Meet the conservation team at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in their pop-up workshop and hear about the history of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the work they do to care for the building and the museum items inside.

Bothersome Bugs, CSI: Birthplace
15–23 February
Some pesky pets have left their mark on Shakespeare’s Birthplace; follow the trail to find their cartoon mug shots, learn more about their modus operandi and the damage they can leave behind.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Visit the beautiful 500 year old cottage where Shakespeare courted his bride-to-be. See original furniture, including the Hathaway bed, and uncover five centuries of stories in this picturesque cottage and 13 generations of the family who lived there.

Hidden Revealed
Every Tuesday throughout January, 11.00am
Take a 45-minute guided tour of Anne Hathaway’s to see hidden fossils and witches’ marks that are normally hidden from view, and even objects visitors have left behind. Places limited to eight per tour, book at reception.

What Goes Munch in the Night?
15–23 February
Follow the trail to learn about how the conservation team is fighting back against those pesky pests that are munching their way through our historical artefacts.

Shakespeare’s New Place
Walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and meet the man behind the works at the site of his family home from 1597 until his death in 1616, and discover beautiful gardens and specially-commissioned artworks (Entry to Shakespeare’s New Place is free to Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents who claim their Community Card on entry, proof of address required).

Shakespeare XR — New for 2020
Step inside Shakespeare’s New Place with SBT’s new visitor experience that combines augmented reality and virtual reality to give today’s visitors their first chance to see ‘inside’ the grand house where he lived with his family for the final 19 years of his life; additional charge applies.

Attic Tours
18 February, 12.00pm and 2.00pm
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the attic at Nash’s House, the Grade I-listed Tudor house next door to Shakespeare’s New Place that was owned by Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Nash. Discover witches’ marks on the beams and information about the restoration work that took place there as part of the re-interpretation of New Place in 2016. Tours are free, but limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that there are steep stairs and the tour may not be suitable for those with access needs.

Hall’s Croft
Explore the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, the prominent physician John Hall. Wander into the tranquil walled garden and discover the fragrant medicinal herbs, as John Hall would have used in his remedies.

Conservation Old and New
Every Thursday throughout January
Learn how Hall’s Croft was restored after being purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1949 and ongoing work to keep it open to the public.

John Hall’s Herbs
1, 2, 29 February and 1 March,
Find out how prominent physician John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law, helped to cure his patients’ ailments, and create your own herb arrangements using a range of craft materials.

Winter Storytime
15–23 February, 12.00pm–4.00pm
Listen to stories about the house, former owner John Hall and the Shakespeare family, suitable for children and adults.

Mary Arden’s Farm
The childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother reopens for the 2020 season on Saturday 14 March. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm on a fantastic family day out. Meet the Tudors who run the farm just as Mary would have done.