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Published December 17th 2019
Special VE Day and VJ Day events head Arboretum calendar
Not content with achieving record visitor numbers during 2019, the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire has announced its new programme for 2020 which it hopes will attract people to the 150-acre woodland site in even greater numbers. More than 340,000 people visited the Arboretum in Alrewas, near Lichfield, which is 16 per cent up on the previous year. Visitor numbers to the Arboretum were boosted by the opening of the Remembrance Centre and Aspects, a dedicated conference and events building. The Arboretum, which is free to enter but carries a car parking fee, is now set to build on its recent successes with an exciting programme of events and activities for 2020 as it looks toward the 75th anniversary of both VE and VJ Day during the course of the year.
Free Spirit - one of the latest memorials at the Arboretum
Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "We have an exciting and engaging programme of events and activities for 2020 as we look toward to the 75th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day. These important anniversaries remind us of the service and sacrifice of the World War Two generation and provide us with the opportunity to say thank you and to remember those who never returned from the fields of battle. We look forward to welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site over the coming year, whether they join us to participate in remembrance, enjoy an exhibition, celebrate lives lived through our art installations, or simply to enjoy the maturing landscape."
Events for 2020 start on February 9 with Paws for Remembrance - a special fundraising event especially for four-legged visitors, including free health checks and advice from the PDSA. Throughout April there will be a series of four 'Bring The Noise' Free Music and Singing Workshops for 5 to 10 years olds. Children will be able to learn basic music techniques and two songs in a fun, environment. They will also be given the opportunity to perform in a special National Memorial Arboretum Children's Choir and perform at a VE Day commemoration event on May 8. Entitled VE Day 75, it will begin a three-day programme of activity to remember those from across the Commonwealth who served. The following days - May 9 and 10 - will involve a vintage fair to spark memories of yesteryear. Live music will feature along with activities for families. Later on in the calendar, Armed Forces Weekend on June 27 and 28 consists of a packed programme of fun family activities alongside musical entertainment and a food and gift fair. This event is part of the national celebration of the work of HM Armed Forces.
Next summer sees the return of the Summer Proms on August 1 with uplifting live musical performances set to the backdrop of the Arboretum at dusk. Then, on August 15, the Arboretum hosts the UK's National VJ Day event, with The Royal British Legion providing a 3 day fully funded transport and hotel programme for all World War II veterans and war widows. This is followed on September 19 and 20 by an Autumn Festival and the annual Ride to the Wall on October 3 which sees more than 10,000 bikers assemble on site. The annual Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade takes place on November 8, followed by Armistice Day Outdoor Service on November 11, and a Festive Food and Gift Fair on November 28 and 29. There will then be a return of Illuminated Arboretum light display from December 9-18, and Carols by Candlelight on December 19, 2020. Throughout the year a series of exhibitions will also be held at the Arboretum, providing alternative ways for visitors to engage with Remembrance concepts, and exploring personal stories of service and sacrifice. For further information about all forthcoming events please visit www.thenma.org.uk