This Thursday 8 May 2020 we should have been out on the streets waving Union Jack flags and swing dancing with the neighbours, but sadly, the big bank holiday VE Day 75 celebrations have been cancelled. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate at home…
Lead image: Katherine Jenkins will perform from an empty Royal Albert Hall
1 Virtual VE Day 75 Festival
The National Museum of the Royal Navy, National Army Museum and Royal Air Force Museum are hosting the Virtual VE Day 75 Festival this weekend – their first tri-service celebration. A series of live talks will see leading military historians explore how each of the services has cemented its own contribution in myth, tradition and popular culture. You can also join in a stay-at-home VE Day party, where you can get thrifty with a Make Do and Mend session and learn how to dig for victory. You can also hear Churchill’s famous VE Day broadcast, recreate the victory celebrations with a live Swing Dance Class followed by a sing-along concert with the Bluebird Belles, and watch re-enactors sharing stories from real service personnel. All events will be broadcast online, via either YouTube, CrowdCast or Facebook.
Find the full schedule of events at nam.ac.uk
2 The Royal British Legion’s VE Day 75 Livestream
The Royal British Legion is hosting a one-hour 15-minute livestream of celebrations, bringing together different generations to talk about their shared experiences. The WWII generation will share stories and memories of service and sacrifice during the Second World War, while today’s generation seeks parallels in today’s battle against an invisible enemy – coronavirus. Hosted by TV presenter Sonali Shah, the programme will feature contributions from social historian Julie Summers, and cook and influencer Melissa Helmsley. Running from 11.15am until 12.30pm live on Facebook.
3 Royal Albert Hall: We’ll Meet Again with Katherine Jenkins
For the first time in its 150-year history, Royal Albert Hall will host to concert behind closed doors. Marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE will perform in the empty venue in a special half-hour live-streamed concert, available to audiences for free via YouTube. Katherine will sing wartime favourites including The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again – the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn and featuring Classic BRIT Award-winning saxophonist Jess Gillam. The timeless song, featuring the lyrics, ‘I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’, epitomised the emotions of the war, and today ring true for families around the world separated by coronavirus. The concert, made possible by the Mayor of London, will support the Royal Albert Hall’s fundraising appeal and SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity’s Emergency Response Fund. To donate £5, text 75VEDAY 5 to 70085 or see ssaf.as. From 6pm.
For full details see royalalberthall.com
About VE Day 75
The 8th of May 2020 marks 75 years since the end of the WWII in Europe. VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, is the day that Allied victory in Europe was announced, on Tuesday 8 May 1945, following the surrender of Nazi Germany the day before.
VE Day was a day of celebration, a national holiday marked with dancing in the street to mark the end of the fighting, the suffering and hardship, and to reflect on the lives lost and those still fighting in other parts of the world.
Key VE Day 75 Events
- A two-minute silence will take place on Friday 8 May at 11am
- Raise a glass with the words ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you’ during the Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of World War II on Friday 8 May at 3pm
- The Queen’s Speech will take place on Friday 8 May at 9pm, followed by sing-along to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again
4 ARTventurers Big Neighbourhood VE Day 75 Family Festival
Specifically designed for families to enjoy at home, the ARTventurers Big Neighbourhood VE Day 75 Family Festival encourages children of all ages to get creative – decorating your homes and gardens to commemorate this special day. There will be a free programme of online sessions during the course of the day, with top children’s activities providers bringing the fun to The Big Neighbourhood V.E Day Family Festival’s Facebook community group. Families are encouraged to decorate the house with bunting, get dressed up in vintage fancy dress, pack a picnic to enjoy either in the garden or on the front doorstep with neighbours, play wartime tunes and join in the Toast to the Nation at 3pm. A downloadable Festival Pack full of window posters, bunting templates, selfie props, party games and more is available here.
For further information see artventurers.co.uk
5 The Todes Family String Quartet Perform in St John’s Hospice Gardens
The Todes family recently shot to fame by performing classical music in front of their home on Alexander Street in Bayswater to appreciative neighbours, before their performance was halted by police to prevent crowds gathering. Since then, the family of four, dubbed ‘the Alexander Street Quartet’, have put their media attention to good use by live-streaming concerts to help raise funds for St John’s Hospice. And to mark VE Day 75, are set to perform a special concert live from the garden of St John’s Hospice – which won an award at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show – at 12pm on Friday 8 May. During the concert the quartet will play a range of classical pieces from renowned composers such as Mozart, in addition to a special VE Day commemorative performance of the Vera Lynn war time classic We’ll Meet Again. Hospice inpatients will be able to enjoy the music from a safe distance, while members of the public be able to tune in and watch the via the St John’s Hospice Facebook page. To donate to the Todes family fundraising page, see justgiving.com