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River Festival 2020 postponed until 2021

Mar 2020

Stratforward BID Limited is sad to announce the cancelling the 2020 River Festival.

Following emergency discussions the BID Board has agreed that the escalating situation with Covid19 means that it is prudent to make the decision now to minimise financial and public health risks.  It will also allow Stratforward staff resources to be switched full time to assisting BID members get through the current crisis and assist with any town post crisis recovery strategy. 

As a member funded business organisation we are acutely aware of the precarious situation the wider business community is now in. We are lobbying Government and MPs directly and through various bodies to urgently alleviate the huge strains being felt by the whole business community. We will keep you in touch with developments as and when we hear things.

We are also keen to receive feedback from member businesses in the town so we can try to keep up with the fast changing situation and target assistance/advice accordingly. Our team are now mostly working from home in accordance with Government advice but are picking up and responding to emails.  Our Town Hosts remain on patrol still at this time. 

In Stratford, announcements of event cancellations and venue closures are coming thick and fast: both the RSC and SBT have shut, a number of the smaller theatres have closed, the excellent Literary Festival taking place in May has been cancelled and both the Shakespeare Birthday and VE Day Celebrations will now not take place. We are aware of a number of shops and hospitality businesses who are deciding to temporarily close and others that are considering this too as an option.

These are not ordinary times. Keep in touch, stay safe, shop wisely and of course carry on washing your hands.

On behalf of the Board and staff of Stratforward.

Joseph Baconnet | BID Director

Explore Spring Feasts

Mar 2020

Something’s brewing at Stratford’s eateries

Food lovers are being invited to explore Stratford’s fantastic food scene with two weeks of special, menus, offers and events as part of the town’s Spring Feasts experience.

Restaurants, cafes and hotels across Stratford will be offering tantalising set meal deals and a host of other offers from March 6 to 21.

Spring Feasts is the second serving of the Stratford Feasts experience, launched for the first-time last year by Stratforward BID. Feasts include enticing fixed-price menus, 2 for 1 offers, and even a free round of drinks!  Cuisines include Classic British, Thai, Turkish, Chinese, Italian and French - there is something to satisfy everyone.  There’s even a Facebook competition with fantastic prizes.

Award winning Tea-room, The Fourteas in Sheep Street, is boasting a selection of delicious offerings, including an indulgent afternoon tea for exceptional discounted value at £12 or £15 with prosecco, and generous discounts on WW2 chocolate boxes or Cream Team Scones for four in a Gas Mask Box! (Customers must book in advance for the Afternoon Tea and quote Feasts).

Arden House is offering a special ‘Home Away from Home’ package for just £125 per room per night which covers accommodation, afternoon tea, gin o’clock, a tasty night cap and a full English breakfast.

Visitors to Zizzi will be treated to a complementary glass of prosecco or garlic bread when they mention ‘Feasts’, available every day along with a two course lunch for £10.95 or three course lunch for £19.95.

Some of the other offers for customers who quote Feasts include as below but there are many more:

  • Newly opened Kungfu – a first drink (wine, beer, soft etc) on the house with every food order, from Monday to Friday
  • Rooftop Restaurant at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – 2 for 1 cocktails from 6pm daily
  • No 44 Brasserie at The Arden Hotel – two course lunch for £15 Monday-Saturday
  • La Marina Tapas Bar – free dessert and coffee with every 4 tapas
  • Turquoise Kitchen – two courses for £11.45 until 4pm or after 4pm three courses for £15.99
  • Bistro du Vin – two course meal for £15.96 or three-course meal for £19.96, valid anytime Monday to Friday, Saturday until 7pm or Sunday after 6pm. (20% discount)
  • Wildwood – 2 for 1 on mains from Monday to Thursday, 2 for 1 on cocktails Monday to Friday 6- 9pm
  • More Feasts offers at Hoorays, The Riverside Café, Susie’s Cafe Bar

On top of the amazing offers, scores of restaurants are continuing to boast brilliant value set menus including Sorrento, Lambs and Loxleys.

Zenios Loucas, owner of vintage Tea-room The Fourteas - which offers visitors a unique experience where they can step back in time to the 1940s - said: “The Fourteas is an affair that goes far beyond the food and the drinks it involves; as it refers to the glorious days of WW2 and the way we can relate to them directly, or via our parents and grandparents. During the Spring Feasts, and later on in the year, during the Anniversary of the VE Day Celebrations we would like to give people the opportunity to come and create their own story with the people they love while enjoying delicious food and an amazing range of exotic teas. 

Stratforward BID Marketing and Events Manager, Tor Wilkes, said: “In the heart of Stratford we are lucky to have over 140 places to eat and drink!  Whilst Feasts - Stratford’s restaurant fortnight - is running, there are even more reasons to come to Stratford, with so many special set menus and offers, it’s a brilliant time to try somewhere new or retry somewhere you’ve not been for a while.  It’s worth going to our website to check out what’s on offer, as it is constantly being updated.”

For a full list of Feasts menus and offers, visit and check out our Facebook page for details of the competition.

Kungfu in Bell Court
RSC Rooftop Restaurant on Waterside
Turquoise Kitchen on Wood Street
Bistro Du Vin on Rother Street
La Marina Tapas on Bridgefoot
Wildwood Restaurant on Sheep Street
No44 Brassarie in The Arden Hotel on Waterside
Fourteas on Sheep Street

And remember to save the date for the welcome return of Stratford Town Centre Food Festival on September 19 and 20 with over 120 stalls, taste and ale trails and free cookery and drinks demos.

In the Summer, the ever-popular Stratford River Festival will take place on July 4 and 5. Its entertainment line-up will soon be released!  Both events are organised by Stratforward BID on behalf of 420 town centre businesses.

Apply for a stall at Stratford Town Centre Food Festival 2020

Feb 2020

More Food Glorious Food – Stratford Town Centre Food Festival 2020

Cotswold Markets will again be working alongside Stratforward BID to deliver Stratford Town Centre Food Festival 2020 on September 19th and 20th. As one of the UK's leading market operators, and quality stall and marquee hire specialists they have provided a great partnership since 2017. Last year around 44,000 food lovers enjoyed the diverse foods on offer in the food market, on the street of Stratford-upon-Avon.

As in the previous Food Festivals there will be an emphasis on the food and drink products available in and around the local area. 

Contact Cotswold Markets if you would like more information hiring a stall at the festival, email  or call 01608 652 662.

If you are a member of Stratforward BID please check the Food Festival application page as you may be eligible for a discount if you apply before April 30th.

If you would like to apply for a stall now please click here

Training to increase your footfall.

Feb 2020

Stratford High Street Retailers: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR FOOTFALL?!


You are invited to take part in the Warwickshire High Street Retail Course.




Take part in this online course with an introductory face to face meeting.

There are 4 modules with a 1-hour webinar for each which takes place once a fortnight.
There are assignments to complete on your business for each module (1/2 hour to 3hours – as much or as little time as you choose to invest), and all when it suits you.
  • Learn new techniques
  • Meet and learn from other businesses
  • Be inspired - see examples of what’s worked for others
  • Create your own plan with the support of the highly experienced tutor, Alison Read.
No charge for you to attend!  Funded by Warwickshire Towns Network
See the flyer for more info. 
Register by clicking here to go to Eventbrite and for more information
Call Alison with your questions 07941 259 795 
Recommended by Stratforward BID.

318 days to Christmas! And...

Feb 2020

Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market is returning for its fourth year which will be extended to four days of festivities.

The award-winning annual event will once again be taking place in Stratford’s town centre with an extra day of festive celebrations. The yuletide market will now take place from Thursday, December 10 until Sunday, December 13, and will see around 300 stalls for Christmas shopping, along with entertainment and a traditional funfair including a carousel.

Over 123,000 visitors are estimated to have flocked to the popular tourist destination for last year’s markets, making it the most successful Victorian Market yet. The popularity for the event has grown year-on-year, with 58,000 visitors attending the first event in 2017.

The market sees traders in traditional Victorian outfits with stalls offering everything from original artwork, handmade decorations and jewellery, and award-winning food and drink.


Free Digital Training

Jan 2020

Retailers in South Warwickshire looking to increase their online presence and bring more shoppers to the county are being encouraged to attend free digital sessions that will begin at the end of January.

On behalf of Warwickshire County Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce will be delivering free digital support to help independent retailers across the county increase trade, as part of the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme.

Business owners across the whole of Warwickshire will be given advice on how to use social media, how to enhance shopping experiences to counter the functionality of online retail, and how to build better digital networks in their local area.

Local company, Stories Marketing – which has a background in retail and expertise in social media – will deliver the series of free workshops around the county between January 27 and March 23.

They will range from using Instagram and Facebook to drive sales through to the digital future of retail businesses.

Keely Hancox, Operations Manager of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was an exciting opportunity for independent retailers to begin 2020 by finding new ways to grow their business.

She said: “We are very pleased to be able to reveal the dates for our workshops across Warwickshire as we look to support our small independents.

“The future of the high street is something that is very high profile, with the new Government offering increased reductions to business rates.

“A recent survey also showed that a significant percentage of small retailers have no digital presence at all – yet the majority of their customers are online.

“So these workshops come at the perfect time and will help independents in Warwickshire to tap into Stories Marketing’s expertise in this field and really drive footfall into their business.”

Leader of Warwickshire County Council, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, said: “We are pleased to commissioning the digital skills for retailers and high street businesses for the fourth year running.

“The Warwickshire Towns Network has seen some real success stories since the programme started in 2016. One fifth of retailers on Warwickshire high streets are disconnected from the digital market place. This programme will open up new opportunities for small businesses to build better digital networks in the local area.

“It is wonderful to see small retailers and high street businesses embracing social media, gaining new customers and changing the way they interact with customers and supporting the local economy.”

Session one – using Instagram and Facebook to drive sales in your retail store

Nuneaton        Monday January 27 10am – 1:30pm

Stratford          Tuesday 28 January 9:30am – 1pm

Leamington     Tuesday 28 January 5pm – 8:30pm

Rugby              Wednesday 29 January 9:30am – 1pm


Session two – how to use social media to create a buzz around your business

Stratford          Tuesday 4 February 9:30am – 1pm

Nuneaton        Monday 10 February 10am – 1:30pm

Leamington     Tuesday 11 February 5pm – 8:30pm

Rugby              Wednesday 12 February 9:30am – 1pm


Session three – the digital future for retail businesses

Stratford          Tuesday 17 March 9:30 – 1pm

Leamington     Tuesday 17 March 5pm – 8:30pm

Nuneaton        Monday 23 March 10am – 1:30pm

Rugby              Wednesday 15 March 9:30 – 1pm

For more information go to or contact Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce on 02476 654321 (Option 4). 

Pictured: Sam Yair (left) with Emma Woodward

The Big Win

Jan 2020

Congratulations to the winner of our competition with Hooray's British Gelato Kitchen

- Amanda Young has won a big tub of Hooray's ice cream! 👍  

Many thanks to everyone who entered.

Happy New Year.




The Public Vote For Something Different!

Dec 2019

Local Independent Giftshop 'For Something Different’ Dazzles to win the Public's Vote in Christmas Window Competition!

Local independent gift shop, ‘For Something Different’ has won the inaugural Public Vote for Stratford’s Christmas Window Competition for their Nutcracker themed window. 

Comments on Facebook include a ‘Beautiful, colourful and artistic display’,   ‘so much attention to detail and Christmas pizazz! 🎅 ‘ and ‘it’s always inspired’.

Shop owners Jondon and Ewa Gourkan, ‘ We are over the moon aim to have won the public’s vote and hope more people will pop in to see the unusual gifts we offer at great value for money - especially at Christmas!”

Runners Up

Joint runners up as voted by the public are Knights Fine Jewellery on Wood Street and Mistral on Bridge Street.  The competition was organised by Stratforward BID.

Everyone who voted was included in a prize draw to win £50 in vouchers to spend in town.  The winner was Amy Price, who voted For Something Different.

Joseph Baconnet, BID Director, awarded the certificates and stated, ‘Many congratulations to ‘For Something Different’ for their display created by the husband and wife team. Stratford looks incredible especially at Christmas and the shops and businesses work hard to make the town so festive.  Shopping local is the key for us all, as where we shop matters to the future of our town.’






For Something Different: Ewa & Jondon Gourkan, Proprietors 

Mistral: Amy Rogers Manager,  Natasha Tout Assistant Manager, Joseph Baconnet – Stratforward BID Director

Knights Fine Jewellery: Chris and Steve Allpress, Proprietors

Applications closing soon to perform at Stratford River Festival 2020

Dec 2019

The deadline to apply to perform is Sunday, December 15th.

To perform on the Bandstand or Acoustic Stage please email a brief description with links to online recordings (YouTube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp etc), your website and contact details to (Do not use the facebook application option.)

Applications received after December 15th will not be considered.

This year’s Stratford River Festival is 4-5 July 2020.

Many thanks


Stein, Doug and The Crew

Ents Manager Stratford River Festival 2020




Winter Weekender Recognition

Dec 2019

Stratford is included in the Guardian's top 15 places to go for a pre-Christmas Break! 

Winter Weekender: 15 picturesque UK towns for a pre-Christmas break

by Gemma Bowes

Christmas was not really a thing in Shakespeare’s day. There’s Twelfth Night of course, and a line in Hamlet (and did you know that Falstaff’s red-nosed drinking buddy, Bardolph, is believed to be the model for Rudolph?) ... yet the Bard only used the C word three times in his writing. How we celebrate today (or did before Black Friday and vegan wellington) is really Charles Dickens’ doing, with roots dating back no further than the 1840s. But that won’t stop Shakespeare’s birthplace going full-throttle on the festivities.

The house where he was born, now the Shakespeare’s Birthplace museum (£17.50/£11.50) is draped in winter foliage by local floral designers until 5 Jan, with exhibits telling how Tudors spent the 40 days prior to Christmas fasting and praying, with houses only decorated on Christmas Eve. Tudor Wassailing is revived from 30 Dec-1 Jan, with cups of traditional hot spiced cider to try. Tudor World (£6/£3), an interactive museum, has Christmas quizzes and atmospheric evening Christmas carol tours with (not Tudor but Victorian) “Ebeneezer”.

Further Tudor and medieval traditions, local history and more Bard facts than you can shake a spear at are covered on a town tour with Stratford Town Walk (£6/£3, daily, even on Christmas Day). Stallholders dress the part at the Victorian Christmas market today and tomorrow, with funfair and light displays.

Pick up gifts Uncle Drosselmeyer would approve of at the Nutcracker, a year-round Christmas shop on Henley Street; vinyl and collectables at Henley Street Antiques Centre; and artisan cheese from Paxton and Whitfield.

You should probably see some theatre. A Christmas Carol at the Attic Theatre (9 Dec), The Nutcracker, or comic show Did We Mention the Free Mince Pies? at The Bear Pit (19-20 Dec) are good options.

Where to eat? All ingredients come from within Warwickshire at 33 The Scullery, where December’s menu has roasted vegetable and walnut crumble or slow-braised local game with mulberry gin and puff pastry topping. Former OFM young chef of the year Paul Foster is chef-patron of Salt, doing clever cooking such as partridge with parsley ketchup and cured halibut with pear, kohlrabi, buttermilk and dill.

Three miles out of town, well-regarded Baraset Barn Restaurant (doubles from £140 room-only) added 16 bedrooms (neutral but with wild fabrics) this year.

See link to the article: 

Market Cross. Photograph: Stuart Black/Alamy