England to celebrate St George’s Day with dragons, jousting and Shakespeare

A host of events have been unveiled for St George’s Day, England’s national holiday. Events including feasts, dragon-slaying, jousting, folk music and dance will be joined by a heritage railway display and celebrations for William Shakespeare’s birthday.

People celebrate St. George's Day.
People celebrate St. George's Day. Image by English Heritage

St George’s Day is on Sunday 23 April, but celebrations will stretch across the weekend. St George is most famous for battling a dragon, and re-enactments of the tussle between man and monster will take place at locations including Wrest Park in Bedfordshire and at Bolsover, Warkworth and Kenilworth castles.

In London, Trafalgar Square will be decorated in red and white for Saturday 22 April, with stalls selling traditional feasting food and activities including cooking demonstrations. On Sunday 23, traditional folk and dance will be celebrated at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

Shakespeare’s birthday is also celebrated on Sunday 23 April, and his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon will kick things off early on Saturday 22 April with a parade starting at 9.30am. An estimated 10,000 sonnets will be handed out to spectators. Exhibitions and workshops take place in the town throughout the day, and there’s also a circus session, live music and the chance to get involved in a Roman art project.

Other events are also taking place on St George’s weekend. A display of railway history in Yorkshire will see four trains from different eras including the famous Flying Scotsman travelling side-by-side. The London Marathon, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious distance runs, takes place on Sunday.

References to St George in England go back to the Venerable Bede in the 7th century. Shakespeare’s Henry V famously invokes the saint before the 1415 battle of Agincourt, declaring "Follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’”

The historical St George is believed to have been a Roman soldier of Syrian origin who refused to recant his Christian faith. He is also a patron saint in Portugal, Romania and Georgia.

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