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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Dame Judi celebrates Bard's day
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's birthday was first celebrated in 1824
Dame Judi Dench returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford on Sunday to help celebrate the Bard's birthday.

The RSC threw open its doors to the public for one day in honour of Shakespeare's 440th birthday.

Dame Judi and her James Bond co-star Toby Stephens talked about their experiences on stage and screen.

Event co-ordinator Fiona Lindsay said there was a party atmosphere in the town.

International delegates

On Saturday, circus performers, Shakespeare Morris Men, children's country dancing and the band of the Royal Corps of Engineers entertained crowds from around the world.

They had come to mark Stratford's most famous citizen's special day.

A procession involving hundreds of people in costume and traditional dress marched through the town.

Among the many international delegates who attended the celebrations were ambassadors, high commissioners and other representatives from Luxembourg, China, Brazil and the United States to name a few.

Shakespeare's birthday was first celebrated in 1824 with a procession through the streets to Holy Trinity Church.

The celebrations' principal sponsors include the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust.

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