From a virtual festival to ringing bells for the local community, there’s plenty being organised for the day and beyond. Share these with your group so you can all enjoy them as we continue to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
While the country can’t come together properly to commemorate the important VE Day anniversary on 8th May, many visitor attractions are offering different experiences that you could share with family, friends and colleagues.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has compiled some of the celebrations taking place that people can get involved in with special exhibitions and online activites available beyond the date itself so you can enjoy with your group in the future.
Director Bernard Donoghue explained: “As all our members are currently closed, they are working hard to keep at the forefront of people’s minds through a variety of imaginative and creative digital experiences that commemorate VE Day and can be enjoyed from home during the Bank Holiday Weekend.
“Some will be celebrating how their property, residents and key items in their collections played an important role in the War, others will be commemorating through music whether it be the ringing of bells or joining in with a performance of We’ll Meet Again.”
Here are some of the highlights:
- The National Military Service Museums which include The National Museum of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Museum (as well as the Army Museum) will be hosting their first tri-service celebration with the Virtual VE Day 75 Festival taking place online from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th May. There will be free events including activities encouraging members of the public to get their gardens and homes decorated and prepare for a VE Day party as well a live Swing Dance Class followed by a sing-along concert with the Bluebird Belles.
- The Old Royal Naval College will be ringing their bells on Friday 8th May to celebrate VE Day. The bells are very loud and should be heard by the local Greenwich community.
- Via their Facebook page Durham Cathedral will be broadcasting a special pre-recorded service at 6pm on Friday. Join the Dean of Durham for prayers in the DLI Garden before their cathedral organist, Daniel Cook, performs a rendition of We’ll Meet Again, with musical accompaniments from the cathedral’s choral scholars.
- Continuing the musical theme, on Friday, English Heritage is calling on the nation to Dance for VE Day. At midday, learn to dance 1940s-style on English Heritage’s social media channels with professional lindy hop dancers, while at 5pm they will be inviting everyone to Dance for VE Day with the help of a swing-time troupe and band. English Heritage are also offering a special VE Day 75 pack with dance-steps, music and recipes available.
- Imperial War Museums will be sharing first hand testimonies of the end of the Second World War from their diverse sound archive. Voices of War will be released on IWM’s website and social media channels on Friday and will echo how families heard that war in Europe had ended on the wireless; in kitchens and living rooms, bedrooms and gardens around the nation. These will be available after Friday.
- The Science Museum will be sharing stories from their collection across their social media channels to explore the impact of the war on science, medicine, technology and engineering. These will also be available after Friday.
- The Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands will be bringing its permanent galleries online for digital visitors to view to commemorate VE Day. Films with personal accounts about London during the Blitz and footage from Black Saturday in 1940 showing a heavily damaged Royal Docks will be available to view on their social channels.
- The National Railway Museum will have an ongoing mini online exhibition telling the stories of the various ways the railways were involved in the War and VE Day, as well as a series of classic railway posters with the ‘stay safe stay home’ message.
How stately homes are marking the anniversary
Many country houses and churches played an important role during the war and several are commemorating their famous residents such as Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, which will be sharing specific VE Day quotes, videos and content on its website.
Harewood House in Yorkshire investigates the role the house played, together with its inhabitants, during the First and Second World Wars on its website. At both times, Harewood House was turned into an auxiliary hospital, to care for the sick and wounded who came back from war.
Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire will be posting on its social channels about 100 evacuee children from London who stayed there during the war. They will also be sharing the story of how, after hearing about the Kindertransport, James and Dorothy de Rothschild sponsored 30 boys from a school in Frankfurt to come to the UK, finding them a house in Waddesdon village.
The National Trust will commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day throughout the week, as part of the charity’s regular weekly programme of digital content. It will also have another Weekend Challenge for families and supporters of all ages – with special VE Day celebration activities and recipes to try out and share.
For further information on all of these and about ALVA visit www.alva.org.uk