London, Apr 22 (ANI): A double celebration of the life and work of William Shakespeare has got underway in Stratford on Avon as a parade through his home town on Saturday marked the Bard's forthcoming 448th birthday.
The parade also saw the launch of the World Shakespeare Festival (WSF).
"It involves 70 productions in different languages, being performed in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Brighton, and Bridgend over the next few months," Sky News quoted Rev Dr Paul Edmundson, who works with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as saying.
"It is England, Scotland and Wales coming together," Edmundson said.
The festival also forms a big part of the cultural build-up to the London 2012 Olympics.
"Thinking about culture, what would be a big cultural festival for the Olympics? People felt at the heart of it should be our greatest export and that is Shakespeare," Deborah Shaw, director of the WSF, said.
The festival will include a production from the Iraqi Theatre Company. "Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad" is described as being set against a backdrop of conflict between families, communities and generations.
It is an example of the international fascination and interest in Shakespeare's works.
Part of celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon included a service in the church where he is buried.
Symbolic yellow flowers were laid on his tomb at the Holy Trinity Church by pupils from the town's King Edward VI school. (ANI)
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