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It’s a celebration of the imagination in the Heart of England!



Special events and exhibitions in 2009 honor William Shakespeare,

Charles Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood



Light bulbs have been going off for centuries in the Heart of England. This year is loaded with anniversaries marking the region’s milestone innovations and greatest minds.  Come celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare’s iconic sonnets to five decades of the sleek Mini.  VisitBritain, the national tourist office for England, Scotland and Wales, calls on travelers to the Heart of England, a birthplace of innovation and imagination.


Discover the origins of Charles Darwin as his hometown goes out with a bang for his 200th birthday.  Located 40 miles west of Birmingham, Shrewsbury was where the historic icon first began to observe the natural world.  Shrewsbury is marking the anniversary of Darwin's birth with everything from a giant birthday cake to a new national bicentenary memorial work of art on the banks of the River Severn.  Darwin’s birthplace is also home to a new work of multimedia art called Lighting Up Time.  Running until December 31, 2009, this free exhibition uses large scale digital images including film, photos and animations projected on to buildings around Shrewsbury. 

Get to know Darwin’s Shrewsbury – a two part exhibition highlighting how the town influenced his work.  Organized by The Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition is free and features artefacts from the museum’s collection as well as contemporary Darwin-inspired works.  Part one of the exhibition runs until February 28, 2009.  Part two resumes on July 20, 2009 to September 20, 2009.

It’s been 400 years since William Shakespeare’s first sonnet was published and today his words speak louder than ever before.  Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations kick off in the playwright’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, with an annual parade on April 25, 2009.  The lively procession dates back to the 1800’s and draws hundreds of literary revelers each year.  Throughout the day visitors will delve into a real carnival atmosphere packed with traditional and modern street entertainment and impromptu performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be opening a new visitor center in April 2009 at Shakespeare’s birthplace – Stratford-upon-Avon.  The visitor center, which is set within the grounds of the house where Shakespeare was born, is the centerpiece of the five houses that The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust opens to the public in and around Stratford.

From the moment it sped off the production lines in Birmingham 50 years ago, The Mini has secured its place in pop culture.  2009 marks a milestone year for “Britain’s favorite little car” and the Heart of England is gearing up with a major exhibition entitled 50 Years of the Mini at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire.  Featuring cars from the collection of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, including the first Mini produced at Cowley in 1959, the exhibition tells the story of the design, production and development of the car that became a symbol for the "Swinging Sixties".  The exhibition will also feature photographs, film and publicity material from the archive collections of the Trust.  50 Years of the Mini is open from May 1 – December 31, 2009. 


Come celebrate Wedgwood’s smashing success in the Heart of England.  Two hundred fifty years after opening his doors for business, Josiah Wedgwood’s coveted teacups and china sets can be found on everything from the Royal Family’s dinner table to a connoisseur’s glass curio.  To get an inside look in to Wedgwood and his eye for design, the Heart of England invites travelers to the new Wedgwood Museum in Stoke-on-Trent.  Opened in October 2008, the museum attracts visitors to see its display of 6,000 ceramic pieces, 75,000 manuscripts, 680 pattern books - and even a fire engine from the original Wedgwood Etruria factory. 


For the latest on how travelers can celebrate imagination in the Heart of England and for a complete list events and exhibitions in 2009, visit


For more information Britain, please call (800) 462- 2748, e-mail or visit the website



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