Birmingham to mark centenary of outbreak of First World War

By on 28/07/2014 in News

Final preparations are under way for a weekend of events in Birmingham to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Birmingham City Council is marking the First World War with a five-year programme of events and activities, beginning this weekend with a series of events running from Saturday, August 2, to Monday, August 4.

On Saturday, Birmingham Hippodrome will be hosting the Minimum Monument art installation by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo in Chamberlain Square, where members of the public will be able to place on the steps small frozen figures which melt in the sun.

A civic service will be held at Birmingham Cathedral on Sunday, commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of the war. The service, which is by invitation only, will be attended by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Shafique Shah, as well as representatives of the Armed Forces who have received the Freedom of the City.

On the same day, there will be entertainment in both Victoria and Chamberlain Squares, running from noon to 6pm, opening with Charlie Chaplin silent movies playing on a big screen in Victoria Square, followed by a full programme of stage events, including the Military Community Choir, the Alan Warner Band and Music Hall Show with Maggie O'Hara, and the Band of the West Midlands Fire Service.

Birmingham's Poet Laureate Joanna Skelt and Young Poet Laureate Lauren Williams will both be performing specially commissioned poems from the main stage. The Western Front Association will also be hosting talks in the Council House for those wishing to learn more about the war and its links to Birmingham.

In addition to the stage programme, representatives of the Armed Forces will be in attendance, with weapon displays from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and a field hospital display by the 202 Field Hospital comparing modern day army resources with those of 1914.

There will also be living history displays, including suffragettes, as well as the Travelling Military Museum, craft workshop and a Charlie Chaplin 'walkabout' character. Birmingham City Council's gold-winning Chelsea Flower Show display will also open to the public.

On Monday, August 4, a candlelight vigil will be held at Birmingham Cathedral from 5.30pm to 11pm. Open to the public, this event will provide an opportunity for quiet reflection with music from Birmingham City Council Choir and Birmingham Cathedral Choir, as well as a live broadcast of the service to be held at Westminster Abbey from 10pm to 11pm. The event will be part of Lights Out 14-18, a UK-wide initiative which aims to have one light on at 11pm to mark the time at which war was declared on Germany in 1914.

Further information on how Birmingham will be marking the First World War between now and 2019 can be found at


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