It’s William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday! Where and how are you celebrating?

As the Swan of Avon hits a milestone birthday, here are the best places to party with fellow Bard-heads and Shakes-fans

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Photograph: Courtesy of Drunk Shakespeare

Can you believe it? Ole Billy Shakes turns 450 years old today…and he doesn't look a day over 435. Even though this season has been dense with Bard productions on Broadway and Off, we still think it's a good chance to doff our caps to the greatest playwright who ever lived. And since there's no actual body to offer a present, why not treat thine own self? Verily, here are some Shakespearean ways to celebrate.

Drunk Shakespeare

If Shakespeare were still alive and turning 450, you know he’d be getting totally shitfaced. “I’m 450 years old, bitch! I will drink whenever and whatever I please! Oh, also: I wrote Hamlet. Suck it.” Every night at Quinn’s Bar & Grill you will find a nightly meeting of the Drunk Shakespeare Society (pictured above), in which an actor drinks heavily and corrals others into enacting one of the famous plays.

World Book Night: Sonnets on Broadway

This international event gets books into the hands of people who might not have easy access to them. This year, the organizers join forces with Charlotte St. Martin and the Broadway League to get Shakespeare’s sonnets to young audiences. At today’s matinee and evening performances of Cinderella, Matilda, Newsies and The Lion King, ticket holders will find free copies of the Dover edition of the sonnets.

Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Slam

If you’d rather have the poems read to you, try this event on Friday, starting at 1pm in the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. Shakespeare lovers, including Dana Ivey and event organizer Melinda Hall, endeavor to read all 154 of the Bard's sonnets over the course of the afternoon.

See King Lear in Brooklyn

The title character of Shakespeare’s shattering tragedy was not a big fan of birthdays. As the mad monarch notes, “When we are born, we cry that we are come / To this great stage of fools.” Um, buzzkill? Still, this production from Theatre for a New Audience (running though May 4) has gotten respectful notices, even if it drove Time Out’s Theater editor to demand a Lear-atorium.

See King Lear in hi-def

It’s not on the Bard’s birthday, but we’re holding out for this NT Live broadcast of the National Theatre’s acclaimed production starring Simon Russell Beale (starting May 1). Apparently Sam Mendes’s brutal, Stalinist Lear is one of the best in years. It’s cheaper than a theater ticket. Plus, you can eat popcorn in your seat.

Party with the Shakespeare Society

For the scholars among you: The Shakespeare Society and Pearl Theatre Company invite you to an evening of readings, commentary, songs, quizzes and more. Ben Crystal talks about his work with Original Pronunciation; the Shakespeare Forum's Sybille Bruun-Moss explores how 17th-century stage conditions might affect our understanding of Love's Labour's Lost. Sound like homework? Not to worry; the wine will flow. Tonight at 7pm for only $15.


If you have additional suggestions for the big day, let us know!


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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