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Update May 1st 2020
The Arboretum is currently closed with all events up to and including the Summer Proms on August 1 cancelled to date.
Coronavirus hits Arboretum events but still full programme
Coronavirus has unfortunately forced the cancellation of a number of events at the National Memorial Arboretum, but the year-round centre for remembrance in Staffordshire is still hoping that a number of events planned for later in 2020 can still go ahead. The Arboretum, situation on a 150-acre woodland site at Alrewas, near Lichfield, had been hoping to build on a successful 2019 when the location achieved record visitor numbers amounting to more than 340,000 people passing through its doors - a 16 per cent increase on the previous year. Those record visitor numbers were boosted by the opening of the Remembrance Centre and Aspects, a dedicated conference and events building. However, the coronavirus pandemic has sadly put paid to that.
Free Spirit - one of the latest memorials at the Arboretum
The Arboretum, which is free to enter but carries a car parking fee, had previously unveiled a bumper programme of events and activities to keep visitors occupied throughout the year, including commemorations for the 75th anniversaries of both VE Day and VJ Day. Some events scheduled for the beginning of 2020 happily did go ahead as planned, starting on February 9 with Paws for Remembrance - a special fundraising event especially for four-legged visitors, including free health checks and advice. However, Covid-19 saw the cancellation of a series of 'Bring The Noise' Free Music and Singing Workshops for 5 to 10-year-olds during April, followed by a special VE Day 75 commemoration event on May 8 which was to have launched a three-day programme of activity to remember those from across the Commonwealth who served, including a vintage fair complete with live music.
Another major event which has also now been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak is the Armed Forces Weekend on June 27 and 28 The event was due to consist of a packed programme of fun family activities alongside musical entertainment and a food and gift fair. And another casualty of the outbreak has been the return of the Summer Proms which was due to have been held at the Arboretum on August 1. The first event which is still due to go ahead is on August 15 when the Arboretum is due to host the UK's National VJ Day event, with The Royal British Legion providing a three 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 then, on October 3, with the annual Ride to the Wall which sees more than 10,000 motorbikes and scooters assemble on site.
Later in the year sees the annual Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade which is earmarked to take place on November 8, followed by an 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 the Illuminated Arboretum light display from December 9 to 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