VE Day: What celebrations are taking place and how can I take part safely?

4 May 2020, 17:37

File photo: Friday marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day
File photo: Friday marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Events will take place across the country to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day this Friday.

May 8 will mark 75 years since Victory in Europe Day, which commemorates the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces.

Despite the celebrations taking place, the public have been reminded to maintain social distancing measures amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Here’s what’s happening and how you can join in:

Red Arrows flying over Horse Guards Parade during the VE Day Parade to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day
Red Arrows flying over Horse Guards Parade during the VE Day Parade to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Picture: PA

Nationwide events

- 11am: A two-minute silence will be held to honour the service and sacrifice of the wartime generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

- 11.15am: The nation is invited to join in with the Royal British Legion's (RBL) VE Day 75 Livestream.

Grab a cup of tea and tune in as the generations of the Second World War and today are brought together to chat about their shared experiences.

Hosted by TV presenter Sonali Shah, the 45-minute programme will feature stories from those who served and sacrificed, as well as recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.

- 3pm: The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of World War Two. Take part by raising a glass, cheering and clapping on your doorsteps and saying: "To those who gave so much, we thank you."

- 9pm: A pre-recorded address by the Queen will be broadcast at the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a radio address on May 8 1945.

- 9pm: Fancy a sing-along? After the Queen's address, the nation is invited to come together in a rendition of Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again on BBC One.

In the regions

- A "huge virtual party" is planned for Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, with residents encouraged to hold picnics in their front gardens and deliver wartime-style treats to loved ones in lockdown isolation.

Singer Jessica Poole, known as the Yorkshire Belle, will lead a wartime sing-along of 1940s favourites live on the council's Facebook page at 8.15pm.

- In Plymouth - which was bombed on 59 separate occasions during the Blitz - people are being encouraged to put on their dancing shoes at home.

Local troupe Plymouth Dance have made online tutorial videos to get the city whirling and twirling to Frank Sinatra classics Sway and Come Fly With Me.

- In Northampton – Celebrations begin with an 11am sermon delivered by Father Oliver Coss, which will be followed by a remote performance from the All Saints’ Choir.

Speeches, readings and poems will also be shared throughout the afternoon, by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Northampton, the Lord Lieutenant, the Chairman of the Northamptonshire Royal British Legion and the Chairman of Northamptonshire Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

The day’s pre-planned proceedings will be honoured in a virtual manner; with a bugler playing the ‘Last Post’ just before 3pm, followed by the Northamptonshire Pipe Band, and a national ‘Toast to the Heroes of the Second World War’, led by Lord-Lieutenant James Saunders Watson at 3pm.

- In Surrey, Epsom and Ewell, Mayor John Beckett said: "We may be in lockdown, but we are a patriotic borough, so let's mark this great day by getting out the bunting and the Union flags and turning our borough red, white and blue!"

- Basingstoke Mayor Diane Taylor is encouraging people to join in the international Cry for Peace at 6.55pm. She will be streaming the address live on social media at the same time as dignitaries around the world.

- In Gloucester, a series of videos will be shared by Gloucester City Council, looking back at the Second World War, including the incredible contribution of the Gloster Aircraft Company, which manufactured thousands of Hawker fighter planes.

- In the North East, residents of Newcastle and Gateshead will be able to look out at the Tyne Bridge, which will be lit up in red, white and blue.

Families are also encouraged to make their own decorations and raise a glass to war heroes at 3pm.

- Derby City Council will be broadcasting a special pre-recorded dedication service to mark VE Day at 2.45pm on Facebook.

- In East Anglia, King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council is holding online 1940s dance classes along with an ARP Warden plane-spotting quiz as part of its celebrations.

How to stay safe

Gatherings of people from different households are still prohibited and two-metre social distancing must be maintained in public spaces.

Street parties can take place if each family stays in their own front garden and stays within their household group.