People across the Winchester district are invited to get out their gazebos and gowns, tiaras and tablecloths, candelabras and crowns for a special occasion in Abbey Gardens next month.
A Royal Celebration and Grand Picnic will take place in the much-loved historic park on Broadway on Saturday 4 June to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.
With Abbey House providing the backdrop, the gardens will ring to the sound of music from the four corners of the United Kingdom as well as from Winchester College jazz band. Later in the evening, picnickers will be invited to wave their Union Jacks and join in rousing ‘Last Night of The Proms’-style songs led by the opera diva Demelza Stafford.
Eloise Appleby, Winchester City Council’s Assistant Director (Economy & Communities), explained:
This is an opportunity for people to dress up and have fun with friends and family right in the heart of the city. We are looking forward to seeing decorated gazebos and fancy picnics, as well as some ‘royal’ costumes if people really feel like going to town.
Abbey Gardens were gifted to the people of Winchester by Queen Mary Tudor to celebrate her marriage to Philip of Spain in the Cathedral in July 1554. It seems appropriate that they are the setting for this royal celebration nearly 500 years later.
There will be prizes for the ‘most majestically-dressed gazebo’, the ‘best-dressed party’ and the ‘best-dressed individual’, and tasting stands run by local producers.
The garden celebration follows a more ceremonial moment, when beacons were lit in Winchester and in Bishop’s Waltham on the Queen’s ‘private’ birthday on 21 April. The 90th birthday has inspired many other initiatives. These range from community clean-ups to nationwide bell-ringing and street parties of all shapes and sizes.
The event is being organised on behalf of the City Council by Stephanie Swann Events. Tickets are on sale at Winchester Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840 500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call in during opening hours at the office on Broadway on the ground floor of Guildhall Winchester.
Prices are £30 for a gazebo with up to 8 people, or £5 for an individual adult and £3 for all concessions (including children up to and including 17 years old).