On Friday 8 May, the UK will mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, otherwise known as “Victory in Europe Day”, which commemorates the day towards the end of the Second World War when fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe came to an end.
In recognition of this momentous historical event, the early May Day bank holiday has been moved from 1 to 8 May this year so lots of people will have the day off work on Friday to celebrate.
But unlike normal bank holiday dates, the UK will be forced to celebrate the occasion in lockdown.
This means many of us will have to forgo the usual street parties associated with VE Day celebrations as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who lead on these events, has said: “Our messaging on VE Day is clear that people should celebrate at home so there should not be street parties”.
Of course, being bound to our homes does not mean that we cannot still enjoy the occasion, with plenty of VE Day activities that we can easily do without leaving our front doors and breaking social distancing guidelines.
Here’s how to throw the perfect VE Day party on Friday.
1. Create your own playlist
The first step to any successful party is perfecting the soundtrack. Prepare this ahead of time so you can wake up and hit play as soon as the day begins.
Party planner Emily Andrew of Emily Andrew Events suggests including some wartime classics that your entire household can sing along to, such as Dame Vera Lynn’s “There’ll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover”.
“Dance around and enjoy feeling a bit nostalgic,” says Andrew. “For a bit of authenticity, you could even try and learn some 1940’s dance moves,” she adds. “There are masses of online tutorials that can help you with this.”
2. Stage your own traditional cream tea
Few activities are more synonymous with British culture than afternoon tea. For your VE Day party, Andrew advises baking your own scones in addition to compiling some classic finger sandwiches, such as cucumber and salmon and cream cheese.
“Cut off the crusts, too, for an authentic appearance” Andrew adds.
If you can get hold of some vintage china and lace doilies, use these to serve your tea.
You could also bake some cupcakes and decorate them using blueberries, strawberries and vanilla icing for patriotic colours, Andrew suggests.
Browse our selection of afternoon tea recipes here.
3. Put up some decorations
A traditional British decoration is of course bunting. You can order some online or you could even try making your own.
“Bunting is the perfect tool to make any party that little bit more special, while it can easily be made from home with just a few utensils,” says event planner Beth Smith, of The Eventa Group and Fizz Box.
“You will need some fabric and scissors, with some tape or ribbon to hold it all up, and ideally, a sewing machine,” she explains.
“If you don’t have any relevant fabrics available in the house, you can opt for some paper and draw on some beautiful designs, after marking the triangular shape. This is a great way to involve the family, to get each person to draw a design on the triangle template before cutting them out.”
Then it’s simply a case of taping ribbon or string to the back of each of your triangles and hanging your bunting up around the house.
4. Take part in the 11am silence
There are several official events on VE Day. These begin at 11am with a national moment of remembrance – two minutes’ silence.
Just like the one minute of silence for key workers who died during the coronavirus outbreak, which was held on Tuesday 28 April, the public will still be expected to observe lockdown and social distancing during the silence.
5. Host a Zoom World War trivia quiz
VE Day is the perfect time to test your wartime knowledge with a Zoom quiz.
“Go online and find some facts and then dial in with some friends and family,” suggests Andrew.
If you want an alternative historical activity for your afternoon – the BBC is broadcasting Winston Churchill’s address to the nation announcing Germany’s surrender at 2.45pm.
You can find a good example of a World War II quiz here.
6. Plan a picnic in the garden
The majority of the UK is forecast to have bright weather over the bank holiday weekend so why not try and have a VE Day picnic on Friday, if you can abide by lockdown rules when doing so.
If you are lucky enough to have some outside space, throw a rug down and sit in the fresh air with a picnic of all of your aforementioned VE Day treats, suggests Andrew.
“If you live on a busy street, this could be something you organise to do with your neighbours, all sitting in your front gardens while maintaining a safe distance,” she adds.
“Then you can get as close to creating a street party vibe as possible, particularly if you have speakers that can blare your VE Day playlist out for all of your neighbours to enjoy.”
7. Take part in the national singalong
At 8pm, BBC One will air a televised musical event VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration, after which, the public will be invited to take part in a country-wide singalong of Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem “We’ll Meet Again”.
You can find out more about how to join in, including all the lyrics, here.
8. Don’t forget to watch the Queen’s address
To finish off your VE Day in royal style, watch the Queen make a special televised address on BBC One at 9 pm in the evening – the exact time her father, King George VI, made his radio address to the nation in 1945 to announce victory in Europe after what he called “nearly six years of suffering and peril”.
The BBC will also air a pre-recorded video message from Prince Charles, who will read an extract from his grandfather King George VI’s diary from VE Day describing the day’s events, including the royal family’s Buckingham Palace balcony appearances.
Settle into the sofa with your scones and a cuppa to catch it. Find more details about where to watch it here.