VE Day 2020 – How can we celebrate during lockdown?

VE Day 2020

On Friday 8th May, marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Regarded as one of the grandest celebrations in British history, during which festivities took place in 1945 to mark the end of the Second World War. Parties in the streets and crowds cheering in Trafalgar Square marked Victory in Europe Day with the British public rejoicing after six long, hard years of war.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that hundreds of celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary of the momentous day have all had to be cancelled.

But in the same way that millions of Britons have used technology to satisfy their longing for the pub quiz, see family members, and even get married, VE Day 2020 is taking place at home and online.

The Royal British Legion is playing a central role in the delivery of a range of remote events and activities and there’s also plenty you can do together at home with the family too (see below for more detail) – from 1945 home cooking, homemade bunting, creating your own 1940’s music playlist, building a paper aeroplane Spitfire and more!

The government also has a dedicated website for ideas on activities for a VE Day party at home:

UK wide events throughout the day

Here’s a round up of how the country will be marking the occasion:

  • 11am – Two minute silence for a moment of national remembrance. Lead by the Royal British Legion to honour the service and sacrifice of all those in the wartime generation.
  • 11.15am – Live stream by the Royal British Legion: 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. The livestream will take place on the RBL website and also their Facebook page.
  • 2.45pm – The Announcement of Victory by Churchill: BBC One will broadcast Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech in which he addressed the nation to announce the end of the war in Europe, which he made from 10 Downing Street on 8th May 1945. The programme with feature stirring military music, moving personal testimony and readings from VIPS and celebrities and all those who fought and contributed to the war effort will be remembered and celebrated.
  • 6pm – ‘Royal Albert Home, We’ll Meet Again for VE Day 75’ with Katherine Jenkins: For the first time in their 150-year history, the Hall will play host to a very special concert behind closed doors as we join the nation in marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE will perform in an empty Royal Albert Hall in a special half-hour concert that will be streamed to audiences for free via YouTube. Katherine will sing wartime favourites including The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again; the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn. Find out more:
  • 8pm – VE Day 75: A Peoples Celebration, BBC One: On BBC One and in partnership with the Royal British Legion, Sophie Raworth will host a unique and unprecedented musical celebration for VE Day 75 to unite the nation in front of the television to salute our precious World War II generation.
  • 9pm – Her Majesty The Queen will address the nation with a pre-recorded speech on BBC1, broadcast at the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a radio address on 8th May 1945.
  • 9pm (just after) – UK wide sing-a-long of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’. Following Her Majesty’s address, on BBC One, the nation is invited to come together for a UK wide sing-a-long of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’. People are encouraged to open their doors and join in on their doorsteps with this national moment of celebration.

Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – Lyrics

You can watch and join in on BBC One who will be featuring the UK wide sing-a-long of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ as part of their VE Day broadcast. Get practising! Click here for the lyrics.

Family fun for everyone

Get the colouring crayons out, fire up the oven for some war time baking, dress up your house with flags and bunting, there’s plenty of activities for all the family to enjoy and young children can learn more about this historic day for Britain and Europe.

Decorate your house with homemade bunting, colouring-in and more…

VE Day 2020

Simple paper bunting is really easy to make and all the family can get involved and colour the flags! Check out this really easy How to make VE Day bunting YouTube tutorial; all you need is plain white paper and some crayons or felt tips!

If you have a printer, the pre-printed patriotic bunting flags on are nice and colourful – there’s also lots of other resources/colouring sheets to download on this webpage too.

We really love this – where you’ll not only find a Union Jack bunting template but a morse code challenge, some war times recipes to try out and a diary template to recount historic events from 8th May 1945.

Make your own WW2 spitfire 

VE Day 2020

Children (and grown ups!) can make their own paper Spitfire aeroplane with this great printable template here:

VE Day Learning Resources

VE Day 2020

The Royal British Legion have some excellent school resources here and provide an overview of VE Day and its relevance today:

There’s also an excellent number of educational resources here: (go to the bottom at the page).

Make Your Afternoon Tea or Have One Delivered

assorted pastries in rack between plates

Afternoon tea is something many of us love right? Scones with clotted cream and jam, sumptuous home made cakes, perfectly cut sandwiches and endless cups of tea are the classic elements of this quintessential English tradition and it’s an ideal accompaniment to VE Day festivities. If you fancy making your own from scratch, baking your own cakes and scones or you’d prefer to buy everything ready made – we really this BBC Goodfood Guide to the Easiest ever Afternoon Tea which tells you everything you need to know.

Alternatively, save yourself the hard work and pre-order a ready made Afternoon Tea! Stars Cafe in Buxton are offering a VE Day traditional Afternoon Tea for £9.95 for collection or delivery (delivery in Buxton only) and an option to add beer, Prosecco, or wine). Dubbing Good Food are offering VE Day homemade cake boxes with a selection of their most popular cakes to choose from.

1940s World War II Make-Up

Get into the spirit of wartime Britain and try out this 1940s inspired makeup tutorial from English Heritage:

What happened on VE Day in 1945?

VE Day commemorates the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s surrender by the allied forces at the end of the Second World War.

On 30 April 1945, with Berlin surrounded by opposing forces, the leader of the Nazi party Adolf Hitler died by suicide.

Karl Dönitz succeeded him as the German head of state, going on to negotiate an end to the war with the allied forces, which was made up of nations including Britain, the US, France and Russia.

While VE Day marks the surrender of Nazi Germany after six years of fighting, it did not signify the absolute end of the Second World War.

Some fighting continued around the world, with Japan surrendering in August following the destruction caused by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and the war coming to an official end on 2 September.

Prime minister Winston Churchill alluded to this fact in his radio address on 3pm on 8 May 1945, stating: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.”

How was Victory in Europe Day celebrated 75 years ago?

In order to ensure members of the public could celebrate VE Day in an appropriate fashion, licensing hours at various establishments were extended on VE Day and dance halls stayed open past their normal closing times.

According to Imperial War Museums, the Board of Trade announced that people would be able to purchase red, white and blue bunting for decorations without having to use ration coupons.

In London, crowds of thousands packed the streets in areas including Trafalgar Square and the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace, where the King, Queen, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret waved at them from the balcony.

Join our Facebook event here:

If you have a VE Day party at home, please make sure you observe social distancing measures with your neighbours by remaining at least 2 meters apart. We need to continue to stay at home for now, however hard that might be. You can still step outside your home or use your front garden for an event whilst remaining socially distanced from others – and most of all, still have lots of fun to mark the occasion 😘💪

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