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Fireworks, performances to mark 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth

Around the world, the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare will be celebrated on Wednesday, with the major festivities held in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon in the United Kingdom.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: Around the world, the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare will be celebrated on Wednesday, with the major festivities held in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon in the United Kingdom.

But how relevant is the Bard in this day and age?

All one has to do is go to the house where Shakespeare was born and grew up to see just how popular he still is, 450 years after his birth.

Last year, over 800,000 visitors went through the doors -- a record breaking number.

With people coming from all over the world, his status as a global icon is clear.

Fallon, a tourist from Melbourne, Australia, said: "It's pretty amazing, also very surreal to be here and to experience where he was born and where the icon began."

But some say the classical and Biblical references as well as the complex language make Shakespeare's plays difficult for the modern audience to understand, though others argue that the themes Shakespeare's plays explore are just as relevant now as when he wrote them.

Richard Bunn, dramatic presenter at Shakespeare Centre, said: "The way he presented human nature, everyone can relate to that. He wrote about love, we can all still relate to that. He wrote about jealousy, we can all still relate to jealousy."

Interest in Shakespeare's plays has grown significantly in the last 20 years.

Scott Lewis, period interpreter at Shakespeare Centre, said: "He's been made more popular with films; and big superstars such as Leonardo DiCaprio starring in such films as Romeo and Juliet. And we also think that the education in schools has changed."

In Stratford-upon-Avon, a whole array of celebrations will be taking place on Wednesday to commemorate 450 years since he was born.

There will be fireworks on the roof of the RSC theatre, following a performance of Henry 4th part 1.

And thousands, including dignitaries and actors, will line the streets for a procession from his birthplace to the Holy Trinity Church where he was buried.

Bringing the great man's plays to life for children and young people is also one of the major aims as the 450th anniversary of his birth is marked, so there will be free activities for families across the country.

The popularity of Britain's most famous playwright is only set to go from strength to strength.

In two years’ time, 400 years since Shakespeare's death will be commemorated, and there are expected to be even bigger celebrations as well as special performances of his plays and documentaries. 

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