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Motor Festival 2019 Tickets on Sale NOW!

Dec 2018

Book tickets to bring your car to Stratford Festival of Motoring!

The ever-popular Stratford Festival of Motoring has just released tickets to bring your car to the festival. Take part in the runs around stunning local countryside and then park up in town for all to admire on the Bank Holiday Weekend -Sunday 5th May and Bank Holiday Monday 6th.

Click here for more info...  

Tickets make an excellent Christmas present!?

Winning Photo of the Specsavers Stratford Festival of Motoring Photo Competition 2018 (adults category)

David Edmund Jones

#StratfordUponAvon #motorfestival

Which Window Won?

Dec 2018


Local businesses made Stratford’s streets sparkle thanks to a creative collection of outstanding window displays as part of the annual Christmas Window Competition. Garlands and gifts met stunning lights as shops throughout the town centre adorned their frontages with festive displays in line with the theme ‘All That Glisters’. The awards are split into independent and national businesses and both were hotly contested. The judging team spent hours trawling Stratford’s streets assessing each display for factors including creativity, impact and visual appeal.

Independent Winner

After much deliberation, the winner of the independent category was declared as opticians Dr CP Grey on Chapel Street, whose warm display was highly praised. Owner, Elizabeth Grey said: “It’s so important just now to make the town centre attractive and make our windows as appealing and welcoming as we can. The ‘All That Glisters’ theme let our super-talented Grace create our lovely festive windows. We are delighted to have won the award and hope our window display will be enjoyed by many over the Christmas period.”

Gift shop Daisy Chain, on Chapel Street, was highly commended for its absorbing and fun displays that “give great gift ideas”.  Coralie Keech, the owner of Daisy Chain, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. I put so much effort into the display. Our windows work for us 24/7 so it really is what is in the window that draws people in.” 

Also deserving a special mention is Gemini, women's clothing and shoes, for the eye-catching garlands around their many windows.


National Winner

For the second year running, the National Award went to the British fragrance brand Jo Malone, on Bridge Street. Senior stylist Tina Barnett said: “Jo Malone London are delighted to have won this coveted award and thank Stratforward for their recognition of our #AllThatSparkles Christmas window.”

This year the judging team also felt an extra award should be given to Pragnell Jewellers on Wood Street for its “truly eye-catching display” of lights across its whole frontage. 

The Christmas Window Competition is just one part of the town-wide campaign to showcase Stratford-upon-Avon as the perfect festive destination. This weekend saw the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market bring thousands of people flooding into the town and each Thursday late-night Christmas markets and shopping have attracted locals and visitors to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Stratforward has produced a glossy brochure showing off the array of local businesses offering everything from clothing to food and experiences. The BID is also backing VISA UK’s campaign to #KeepItLocalThisChristmas with its own social media campaign highlighting independent businesses and encouraging people to support them this festive season.
Stratforward BID director Joe Baconnet said: “Stratford’s businesses have pulled out all the stops to make Stratford look even more beautiful than usual. Along with the Christmas lights, our retailers and their displays help make Stratford the perfect destination for festive shopping and celebrations. We’re lucky to have such a thriving range of independent businesses as well as big national names, that’s why we’ve been backing VISA UK’s campaign to encourage people to shop local.”


1. (L-R) Tina Barnett, senior stylist, Jo Malone; Sallie Hinton, Christmas stylist, Jo Malone; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company; Joe Baconnet, Stratforward
2. (L-R) Elizabeth Grey, Dr CP Grey; Joe Baconnet, Stratforward; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company
3. (L-R) Joe Baconnet, Stratforward; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company; Coralie Keech, owner, Daisy Chain.
4. The stunning lighting display at Pragnell Jewellers.

Christmas Spirit Flowed!

Nov 2018

On Saturday Father Christmas elegantly paraded in a stunning horse-drawn carriage with the Make a Wish Competition winners

Congratulations to winners

Darcy, Matilda and Hal had an epic time!

Bell Court

Christmas celebrations started with live music, a brass band, a school choir and their light switch on ceremony!

Great shopping in town too. Super deals for #BlackFriday have started already. Farringdon & Forbes have some brilliant offers in Bell Court Stratford

Visit Father Christmas

Limited spaces available to at STMO's Magic Alley in Bell Court.

Many thanks

The Arden Hotel, Hathaway Tea Rooms ASK Italian, Magic Alley and WHSmith

Warwick Shire Horse Carriages team was excellent!


Be Gone Grumpy Elves!

Nov 2018

Less than 40 Sleeps To Go Until The Big Ho Ho Ho So Its Time To Make Some Christmas Magic!

Come to Stratford for the magical sight of Father Christmas and friends on a horse-drawn carriage parading around town. Catch some festive spirit and how about a warmed mince pie or mulled wine?  

The lucky winners of the town’s Make a Christmas Wish Competition will ride in the elegant carriage drawn by two horses with Father Christmas on Saturday 17th November. Watch the festive tour of Stratford which starts at the Leisure Centre at 2 pm and continues around town until 4 pm.  To make sure you catch them, check out the route below.  The competition is organised by Stratforward BID and Magic Alley with great support from local Ask Italian, WH Smith, Hathaway Tea Rooms and The Arden Hotel. Winners will be treated to various treats such as afternoon cream teas and special gifts.  

What's On in Stratford over Christmas?

The Make a Wish Competition leads to more festive fun in Stratford. Bell Court has their light switch on ceremony on Saturday too. Then on Thursday Stratford’s stunning Christmas lights will be switched on (November 22nd.) And the first late-night festive market will take place on Bridge Street. The popular Victorian Christmas Market is back on December 7th - 9th complete with 200 stalls, vintage fairground and lively street entertainment.

There’s a handy What’s On in Stratford in the Stratford Christmas brochure. Have you seen it yet? For a digital version of the Christmas Brochure click here.   It’s also full of ideas to solve your gift dilemmas and cool places for a Christmas bite to eat or drink.  After all, Stratford is Christmas upon Avon! 


Get social!        

Twitter: Stratforward               Facebook: Stratforward             Instagram: Stratforward

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride Route for the Make a Wish Competition  - Saturday 17th December 2018

Father Christmas will leave Stratford Leisure Centre on his horse-drawn carriage at 2 pm. His route will be Bridgeway, Bridge Street, Wood Street, Rother Street, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, High Street. 

The first winners will be collected by Father Christmas at 2:15 pm at Bardia’s Floral Cafe at the High Street entrance to Bell Court. They will leave at 2:20 pm to travel up High Street, Wood Street, Greenhill Street, Grove Road, Rother Street, Wood Street and on to High Street, where they will be dropped at Hathaway Tearooms for a sumptuous afternoon tea.

The second winners will be collected by Father Christmas at The Arden Hotel at 2:45 pm. So the carriage will travel from Hathaway's along High Street via Sheep Street and Waterside ready to pick up the second winners. From here they will move up Southern Lane, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, Ely Street, Rother Street, Wood Street, High Street, Sheep Street, Waterside to drop off at 3:15 pm outside the RSC Swan Theatre. 

The third winners will be picked up at 3:15 pm outside the Swan Theatre. From here they will go up Southern Lane, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, Ely Street, Rother Street, Wood Street, onto High Street for 3:45 pm as the final drop off before returning to the Leisure Centre.

Last year's Make a Wish Winners with Father Christmas and horse-drawn carriage.


Simply the Best!

Nov 2018

Many Many Congratulations to all Winners of the Stratford-upon-Avon Online Awards 2018

You're Simply the Best!

- as voted by the public.

Winners include many of our members...

A Fine Tattoo Establishment 
All Bar One Stratford-upon-Avon
The Stratford Alehouse - Bill O'Brien
Boston Tea Party Stratford - Upon - Avon
Box Brownie Coffee
El Greco
Everyman Cinema Stratford upon Avon
Gemini Woman
Hooray's British Gelato Kitchen
Hotel du Vin Stratford
STMO's Magic Alley
Matthew Curtis
Paxton & Whitfield Stratford
RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall
Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm
Stratford River Festival - massive thanks!
The Bear Pit
The Fourteas
Keys & Kitchen
The MAD Museum
Vinegar Hill
VIP Salon

You're the BEST! It's official.

And its great the public have the chance to vote on their favourites! Thanks to SUA On Line.


Make a Christmas Wish Competition

Nov 2018

Father Christmas returns to the streets of Stratford upon Avon this year with the Make a Christmas Wish Competition.

Three children and a grown up parent or guardian will each win the chance to ride through Stratford with Father Christmas. The top prize winner will win the opportunity to turn on the Christmas Lights in Jingle Bell Court!!

Download the form here.

Return to Stratforward BID Ltd or send to by Friday 9th November


Oct 2018


Enjoy a ‘spook-tacular’ Halloween at Bell Court this October with a host of family friendly and spellbinding activities set to raise the hairs on the back of your neck…

...or hear about the centre’s very own ghostly girls – the Belles of Hell Court – a spooky tale set in 19th century Stratford.  But beware, the evening events are strictly for adults only at Magic Alley.

While you’re there, why not also stop by Generation Hex, a brand-new shop-within-a-shop catering for the magical and mystical needs of Millennials not just in Stratford but across the world. The shop has a life-size bubbling cauldron and is packed with magical and mystical goodies including fairies, crystals and unicorns!

For those who really want to test their nerves – take in a screening of the new Halloween movie at Everyman Cinema, followed by a creepy cocktail or two at All Bar One or Veeno or a devilish dinner at Ask, Miller & Carter or Nandos

Toby Saggers, Asset Manager at UK & European Investments, the owners of Bell Court, said: “We’ve got a lot of spooky activity at Bell Court this Halloween so we’d encourage guests to pop by and experience it for themselves. You may even meet our very own scary sisters – the Belles of Hell Court.”

Dave Matthews, owner of parent company STMO Media Group, adds: “The tale is about two sisters who were daughters of an ailing butcher in an area of Rother Market known as Hell Court, owing to the noises made by animals as they were slaughtered. The daughters weren’t allowed to inherit their father’s business - they had to be married so it could be passed on, but strangely enough their suitors kept disappearing. This modern reworking of the original penny dreadful tale of Sweeney Todd has been relocated to Stratford and given a gruesome twist that will definitely keep audiences on the edge of their seat.

Tickets for Halloween at Magic Alley can be booked by telephone on 01789 290969, or in person at the Magic Alley main reception - but remember to book quick, as tickets are going fast!

Other retailers at Bell Court include Debenhams and Lush, as well as independent businesses including Farringdon & Forbes, Bardia’s, The Naildressers and The Browstudio. 

Bell Court has undergone an 18 month refurbishment to become a high quality retail and leisure destination within Stratford’s town centre. In addition to new shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, Bell Court has delivered new public realm, including a central square with wooden seating, landscaping and feature lighting, as well as a living wall and new art installations. 

Further information about Bell Court can be found on the development’s Facebook (BellCourtStratford), Twitter (BellCourtLife) and Instagram (BellCourtStratford) pages. 

For further information please contact Rachel Tillman at Core on 0121 232 5000 or email 

Pride of Stratford Awards are now open!

Oct 2018

What's your Favourite Business in Stratford?

Have your say!

This year, at the Pride Of Stratford Awards, TouchFM are opening up the Town Centre Business of the Year award to the public. Let them know the name of your favourite Town Centre business in Stratford Upon Avon and the surrounding areas. A Pub, Hotel, Shop, Estate Agent, Jewellers, Hair salon, Tattoo Parlour...absolutely anything! The most popular nominations will be shortlisted for the award. Click here.. 


The Awards and Sponsors

The Pride of Stratford Awards uniquely features categories for both local business and the community across Stratford upon Avon District.


Business of the YearJudges will be looking for a clear business plan and achievement of stated business objectives. An understanding of the market and how the company meets the needs of its customers must be shown (evidence of training and development of the workforce, and then understanding and commitment of staff of all levels towards the business vision, are key criteria). Judges will also take account of a positive commitment to the local community.

Small Business of the Year: For businesses which employ fewer than ten full-time staff.  Judges will be looking for a clear business plan and the ability to demonstrate achievement of business objectives. A clear understanding of the market and customers’ needs must be shown.  

Town Centre Business of the Year: Open to all shops, restaurants and businesses within Stratford Town Centre. In this category, judges will consider factors such as store layout, customer service level, product availability and quality. 

Hospitality Business of the Year: Judges will be looking for a restaurant, cafe, hotel or B&B which adds value to Stratford upon Avon District and demonstrates that it is a robust business.

Team of the Year: Employers can nominate three or more people who either work together usually or just for a particular project. Judges will be looking for teams which have made a significant contribution to the business, showing commitment to team working and mutual support and respect. 

Customer Care Award: If you have received outstanding treatment when all you were expecting was a hassle, this is the award for you! Judges will be looking for cases where customers are treated with care, courtesy and respect.

Business Person of the Year: The judges will be looking for a business person who shows a genuine entrepreneurial spirit and has contributed to the business community in Stratford upon Avon.  

Tourism Initiative of the Year: Our town is reliant upon tourists – and it is important that we recognise the initiatives that bring tourists from around the UK and around the world. Judges will be looking for a tourist attraction that adds value to the district and provides a real reason for tourists to visit. They’ll take into account previous visitor feedback and recommendations when making their decision. 

Arts Organisation of the Year: No awards ceremony in Shakespeare’s birthplace would be complete without recognising the rich and diverse arts scene that exists throughout the district. This award is open to all arts organisations, whether profit or non-profit making. Judges will be looking for an organisation that engages with the local community, supports local talent and contributes to the culture of the area.

Artisan Business Award: This award aims to reward the creativity of the skilled crafts and local producers that produce or prepare quality products with a strong emphasis on local sourcing and the contribution made to the long-term sustainability of the local community in which they live and run their business. The category is open to all artisan businesses providing locally made or sourced products.

Citizen of the Year: Judges will be looking for individuals whose selfless efforts have left a lasting impression on the lives of others and who have made a significant contribution to improving life in Stratford District.   

Carer of the Year: This award is designed to recognise the work of hundreds of carers in Stratford District. Judges will be looking to choose one individual who has gone beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of their role.

Young Achiever of the Year: Judges will be looking for a young person (under 21 years of age) who has contributed significantly to life in Stratford District and who has shown commitment to their local community. 

Educator of the Year: This award recognises a person whose teaching, leadership or mentoring has inspired others to achieve more in their education and career.  Judges will be looking for either an individual or an organisation that has made a real difference in their students' lives.

Community Impact Award: This award recognises the charitable work of either an organisation, individual or group that has made a dramatic impact on the lives of those within Stratford District.

Long Service Volunteer Award: This award recognises an individual that has been involved as a Volunteer for upwards of 5 years within the Stratford District Area.

Stratford Pride Award: This special award recognises the work of an individual or organisation that makes an outstanding contribution to life in Stratford District. Judges will be looking for an ambassador to the town whose contribution to our local area improves life for residents and visitors, and whose commitment is outstanding.

Get your entries in now!  The deadline is December 7th 2018. 


Winners Ceremony

Friday 8th February 2019, Stratford upon Avon, The Crowne Plaza - celebrate the best achievements in business and the community at the eighth annual Pride of Stratford District Awards with Sitel.

Last year's winners information... 

 Hoorays Winner of the Artisan Award 2018 -  Sara and Sasha Young with education minister Nadhim Zahawi

A Taste of Glory

Oct 2018


They handed out plenty of great tastes during the Stratford Town Centre Food Festival and now the town’s businesses are getting their own taste of glory.

The votes are in and participants in the festival’s popular Taste and Ale Trails have voted for their favourites. The trails, which ran across both days of the festival on September 22nd and 23rd, saw around 800 people take part, working their way around participating town centre food and drink businesses.

Nearly 30 town centre food and drink businesses took part, offering up a tasty treat in the food trail, while Stratford’s watering holes shared a sample of their tipples for thirsty Ale Trail attendees. Two Taste Trails and one Ale Trail took place on each day of the festival, giving visitors the chance to try out different venues in the town centre.

Following the public vote, The Waterside Brasserie at The Arden Hotel took the title for both the blue Taste Trail on the Saturday and the blue trail on the Sunday. Food and beverage manager Damian Marciniuk said: “We are absolutely delighted with our win. We love taking part each year and feel honoured to have won the blue trail on both Saturday and Sunday. So pleased our warm customer service was appreciated. We look forward to many more trails and welcoming people back soon.”

The Red Taste Trail on the Saturday was won by Carluccio’s, which has scooped the title previously. Manager Jen Julian said: “We always strive to provide all of our customers with an authentic Italian experience, share our love of food with everyone and to continue Antonio Carluccio’s legacy. To win again made the team, my Head Chef Lee McDonald and I exceptionally proud of the food and service provided to all.  “We would now like to announce that this has contributed to the site successfully being awarded an exciting new refit, which will take place in November 2018, hope to see you all again soon!”

Vigour Cafe on Rother Street also retained its Taste Trail title, winning Sunday’s red trail. Owner Manager Aga Szczotka said: “We’ve got to be honest, it’s hard to keep a cafe running when you are just off the beaten track. We have always felt that we have something special to offer, but like many things, it takes time to get the message out. “We are so delighted and honoured to receive this award for the second year running and hope that this will raise our profile and tempt locals and tourists alike to hunt us down. This year we have completely revamped our menu to focus on bigger flavours and food that revitalises rather than weighs you down. We still have our famous breakfasts and giant baps but now we offer amazing smoothies, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as well as outside catering! This has been a team effort and honestly say we are delighted and honoured to receive this award for the second year running.”

Special recommendations on the trails - those who scored highly in the votes but were pipped to the post by the winners - were awarded to: Fizz and Fin on Greenhill Street,  Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Hall’s Croft, and Rother Street restaurant El Greco.

Prizes were also awarded for the best beers featured during the Ale Trail, with the ‘People’s Choice’ of favourite beer going to Red Fox by Fullers at The Old Thatch Tavern. Manager Genevieve Hughes said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the people’s vote! We also won the Master Cellarman Award for the last two years, and pride ourselves on serving the best beer. Do come and try for yourself!”

The Experts Choice, chosen by Shakespeare CAMRA, went to The Swan Cafe Bar at the RSC. A Shakespeare CAMRA spokesman said four local members spent three hours completing the Ale Trail on the Sunday of the festival, taking in hostelries including The Bear, The One Elm, The Golden Bee and The Townhouse. Impressed by the Purity beers on offer at the Swan Cafe and The One Elm, they had to look at other factors, and chose Longhorn IPA by Purity at the Swan, which they praised as “the most interesting location and the nicest staff”. Vicki Fleming, from The Swan Cafe Bar, said: “The Swan Cafe Bar is Stratford’s best kept secret! We are delighted to win the Experts’ Choice award, voted by local beer experts, for serving their favourite tipple – Longhorn IPA by Purity. It has a lovely light copper colour with a slight haze as it is unfiltered. Our bars team do a great job ensuring a consistent quality for every pint.”

The Trails were just one part of a successful Stratford Town Centre Food Festival, which attracted 30,000 people to Stratford despite bad weather. The Stratforward-organised event also included a programme of demonstrations by chefs from local restaurants, a market showcasing local and regional producers and hands-on workshops and live music in Bell Court.

Joseph Baconnet, Director at Stratforward BID, said: “The Trails are always an incredibly popular part of the festival. They’re a great way for businesses to showcase what they do and get people through the door for a taste of their offering. Each year we hear that people have returned to Stratford’s restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes after discovering them on the festival trails so it’s a tried and tested way of showing people the huge variety of food and drink we have on offer here in Stratford.  Congratulations to all the businesses involved. Festival-goers were full of praise for all of the food and drink retailers who featured on the trails so everyone should be proud of what they laid on - especially despite such inclement weather. It’s great that so many businesses are getting involved in helping us show exactly what a great foodie scene we have here in Stratford and we look forward to getting even more people on board next year.”

From left to right Dorina Freeman, Sales & Events Manager, Arden Hotel; Ali Abdullah, Bar & Brasserie Manager, Arden Hotel; Aga Szczotka, owner, Vigour Cafe; Joshua Watkin, Catering Supervisor, Swan Cafe; Joe Baconnet, Director, Stratforward BID.




1. Captions for both are as follows (L-R) - Dorina Freeman, Sales & Events Manager, Arden Hotel; Ali Abdullah, Bar & Brasserie Manager, Arden Hotel; Aga Szczotka, owner, Vigour Cafe; Joshua Watkin, Catering Supervisor, Swan Cafe; Joe Baconnet, Director, Stratforward BID.

2. The Taste and Ale Trails are part of the Stratford Town Centre Food Festival. Two Taste Trails run on each of the two days of the festival, while there is one Ale Trail on each day. Visitors vote for their favourite Trails on each day.

3. The Stratford Town Centre Food Festival is one of a number of popular festivals organised by Stratforward’s award-winning events team each year. Others include the Stratford River Festival in July and Stratford Festival of Motoring.

3. Stratforward is Stratford’s Business Improvement District (BID), representing 430 shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and businesses in Stratford town centre. Stratforward is one of 300 BIDs in the UK - a business-led private/public sector organisation charged with helping a designated area to maximise its business potential.


Issued on behalf of Ruth Wood at Stratforward BID - 01789 299011 or email



YES! Businesses vote to keep their BID

Sep 2018



Stratford-upon-Avon’s Business Improvement District (BID) is to continue for another five years after the town’s businesses voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for the organisation to continue for a third term.

The results of the month-long voting process, which closed yesterday (Thursday, September 27th), are:


Turnout by number 172 (41% of those eligible to vote)

Yes by number 121 (70%)

Yes by RV 87%


Under Government rules, UK BIDS are required to be re-elected by their members every five years. Stratforward’s second term is due to finish on March 31st, 2019.  The positive outcome means it will now continue until at least 2024.

Sara Aspley, outgoing Chair of Stratforward, said: “This is great news and the overwhelming vote shows the massive support there is in the town for the work that we do.”

BID Director Joe Baconnet added: “A huge thank you to those businesses who voted yes and who have supported us through this process. For those who voted ‘No’, please be assured that we will work hard to earn your support. As a business community, we are stronger together and the BID is about the town and your businesses. Now the real hard work begins.  Everyone knows that the High Street is facing incredible challenges at the moment and there is no time to lose.  The team will be starting to implement the proposals that form part of the BID 3 Business Plan, drawn up in consultation with our members over recent months, with immediate effect.”

As part of the BID3 Business Plan, Stratforward plans to carry out additional work including:

●      A new marketing and brand strategy to promote the town to as wide an audience as possible, including the creation of a town-wide image library that can be used by members as well as for marketing and PR

●      Improvements to the current business-facing website and the creation of a new consumer-facing website

●      Collaboration with partners to develop Stratford’s evening economy, as well as supporting initiatives to help the business community by dealing with areas they have highlighted such as begging

BID3 will also see the continuation of successful elements of BID2 including:

●      Town Hosts team

●      Staff savings scheme – parking and BID Card discounts

●      Company saving schemes

●      Events and marketing campaigns


Even Shakespeare's Ghost was over the moon with the result!




2.     Stratforward is Stratford’s Business Improvement District (BID), representing 430 shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and businesses in Stratford town centre. Stratforward is one of 300 BIDs in the UK - a business-led private/public sector organisation charged with helping a designated area to maximise its business potential.

3.    Following the yes vote, BID3 will run from April 1st, 2019 to March 2024.

4.    The BID is paid for by its members through a levy. All businesses over a certain size in the BID area pay the levy. It is calculated as a percentage of the rateable value of the property. For BID2, the percentage payable (the multiplier) was 1.45% of the rateable value. The consultation proposes a BID levy of 1.47% for BID3.  The BID rules will allow a fixed inflation increase of 2% (or less) each year meaning year two’s multiplier would be approximately 1.49%.

5. To be successful, the ballot needs to satisfy two tests:-

a.    The number of businesses voting in favour must exceed those voting against.

b.    The total rateable value of those hereditaments which vote in favour must exceed the total rateable value of those voting against.