How to have a VE Day celebration with your family – even during lockdown

It's taking place over the upcoming Bank Holiday...
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  • VE Day is coming up soon on Friday 8th May - but how can we celebrate while self-isolating?

    This year, VE Day will coincide with the early May Day bank holiday, making it the perfect time to get together with your household for a celebration. The UK may be in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a weekend of celebrations to mark this special moment in history.

    What does VE Day stand for?

    VE Day, which stands for Victory in Europe Day, was the day on which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany in Europe on May 8th, 1945.

    Why do we celebrate VE Day?

    VE Day marked the end of World War 2 – and in turn, the end of Adolf Hitler’s reign. As such, it was a cause for celebration all over the world. At 3pm that day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told the nation that the war was over. In London, a crowd of 50,000 celebrated the momentous event in Piccadilly Circus, cheering and waving flags in the street. This year is particularly poignant, given that it’s the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Perhaps take a moment to teach your children about VE Day if you are homeschooling, ahead of the long weekend. See our VE Day school ideas here.

    When is VE Day 2020?

    Taking place on Friday 8th May, this year’s VE Day will be unlike other years, as we’ll have three days to celebrate the historic occasion marking the day that Victory in Europe prevailed during the Second World War. The government purposely moved the annual May bank holiday in order to hold the VE Day celebrations over a long weekend.

    VE Day celebrations

    Planned celebrations for VE Day that can no longer take place

    Before the coronavirus outbreak, a series of celebrations were set to take place in order to mark the special moment. There was set to be a VE Day concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and pubs were planning on staying open later than usual to allow people to raise a toast to the historic moment. The public were also being encouraged to hold street parties, while an official procession down the Mall was also due to take place. Of course, celebrating in this way can’t happen under the current UK lockdown rules – so how can we mark the occasion in a different way during the pandemic restrictions?

    VE Day celebrations in lockdown: how to make the most of it

    There are plenty of ways you can still get involved in the big day, from hosting a special VE Day celebrations picnic or afternoon tea with your household to decorating the house with flags and bunting. If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen, try whipping up some VE Day-inspired retro snacks and baking treats – and, even if you’re not, you can’t go wrong with a strawberry cheesecake. All washed down with a glass of fizz, of course! Keep reading for food, drink, decor and baking ideas for VE Day celebrations in lockdown.

    VE Day silence 2020 – when is it?

    If you are marking VE Day, you may want to observe the 2-minute silence taking place on the 8th May.

    A two-minutes silence of national remembrance will take place at 11am on VE Day.

    This year, the Royal British Legion have said that while we will remember the men and women lost in WW2, it may also be a time to reflect on the impact of the current coronavirus outbreak.

    They said, “At 11am, we’re encouraging people across all generations and communities to take part in a national moment of Remembrance and pause for a Two Minute Silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

    “There is no right or wrong way to take part in the Silence, some may wish to stand at their windows, step outside their homes while remaining distanced from others, watch the broadcast on television, or simply sit in a quiet moment of reflection.”

    Winston Churchill VE Day speech

    The BBC will broadcast the then-Prime Minister’s historic VE Day speech into our homes this Friday at 3pm, so that we can hear what the nation heard 75 years ago.

    In the speech, Churchill makes reference to the still-to-come VJ Day (Victory over Japan), making clear that Britain still needed to defeat the country for the war to come to a final close.

    Credit: Keystone/Getty Images

    He said, and we will hear on the 8th, “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.

    “The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!”

    Your VE Day timetable 2020

    Just because we can’t get together and mark VE Day with our extended friends and family, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to celebrate within the safe bubbles of our own homes. Dedicated programmes will be broadcast to help you get involved in the celebrations.

    • 11am | BBC One | The Nation Remembers BBC One will lead a poignant two-minute silence to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
    • 2.45pm | BBC One | The Announcement of Victory Winston Churchill’s historic speech will also be broadcast – providing a fascinating insight into what the public will have heard on that significant day all those years ago.
    • 8pm | BBC One | The People’s Celebration Viewers can also tune in to a special programme on VE Day on BBC One, which will see some of the UK’s biggest stars (Katherine Jenkins, Beverley Knight), sing a rendition of the iconic ‘We’ll Meet Again’, by Vera Lynn. Throughout the show, we will hear from the real stars of the night, the people who still remember that historic evening and can tell us what it was like, first hand.
    • 9pm | BBC One | The Queen’s speech: The Queen herself will be giving a special address to the nation (her second during the coronavirus pandemic), at 9am on 8th May – which is the exact same time that her father, King George VI, spoke to the UK 75 years ago, on the actual VE Day.

    How to host a VE Day street party

    Holding a VE day street party in lockdown may mean holding a picnic in your front garden, or on your doorstep, and decorating your home in the national colours. If the weather isn’t kind, you could always host an afternoon tea indoors with your household – and invite extended friends and family to join you on a video call, using a platform such as Zoom, FaceTime or Houseparty.

    On the official VE Day website, Pageantmaster Bruno Peek said that they are still encouraging people to raise a glass to the heroes of WW2 from inside their homes at 3pm on 8th May. He said, “Raise a glass of refreshment of their choice, and undertake the following ‘Toast’ – ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you,’ using this unique opportunity to pay tribute to the many millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.” Raise a glass from your doorstep with your neighbours and toast the end of the war, as well as each other, for continuing to observe UK lockdown rules together to flatten the curve and support the NHS.

    How to host a VE Day street party safely during the coronavirus outbreak

    Dr Hillary, Good Morning Britain’s resident doctor, warned that one of the most important things if you are having a ‘street party’ on the 8th, is to make sure that you do so while abiding by all the social distancing rules.

    He said on the programme, “It’s definitely possible to celebrate VE Day with a street party, but we still need to have that very, very, strict social distancing,”

    MORE: VE Day craft ideas for you to make at home

    He continued, advising viewers, “We need to be two metres apart at the bare minimum.”

    And he did state that talking to neighbours is fine, as long as you are at a distance. “By all means, talking to other people, remembering what it’s all about.

    “But also remembering we are in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that is hugely transmissible, so I think we should celebrate VE Day but we should do it very carefully. I think people are grown up enough and knowledgeable enough and fearful enough of this virus to do that.”

    VE Day celebrations decor

    VE Day celebrations

    The BBC are also encouraging the British public to make their own bunting to display in their homes over VE Day weekend. They’ve even created a step-by-step guide to making your own bunting, as well as a template for you to print out. Discover all of their resources here. Or, you can follow our guide to making bunting, here. If you’d rather buy it ready-made (and who could blame you!) Not On The High Street have some brilliant British flag bunting (pictured above). Or, if you would like to go for something you would use again, there are plenty of sweet bunting and garland options available.

    And why not round off the day with a few sparklers in the garden and why not try a party popper or two? Perfect for that special moment when you raise a toast to all those who gave so much for our country during WW2.

    VE Day celebrations food ideas

    Picnic food is the best kind of food, and perfect for any outdoor celebrations. So if you’re gathering in your front garden or on your doorstep, bring some delicious food along with you. We love this Feta and Red Pepper Quiche, a fancy but easy snack. Or, this couscous salad couldn’t be easier to put together. And what is a picnic without sausage rolls?

    A quintessentially British afternoon tea is also a great option for VE Day. You could try your hand at some perfectly rectangle finger sandwiches, along with handmade scones and some indulgent sweet treats to finish.

    For a seasonal dessert option, why not try some baking with spring’s show-stopping veg – rhubarb. Spring is rhubarb season and this natural sweet treat is so versatile – there’s a lot you can do with this British-grown veg. Try a tasty rhubarb and ginger loaf for starters. And rhubarb is also the perfect crumble accompaniment, of course…

    VE Day celebrations cakes

    We’ve got plenty of VE Day baking ideas for you to celebrate at home with, including a delicious looking Union Jack celebration cake, and some patriotic Union Jack flag cookies.

    VE Day celebrations

    Or why not whip up these classically British iced fairy cakes, or a very British Victoria sponge?

    A pineapple upside down cake is also a real classic, as is a lemon drizzle. But if you’re after something even more traditional, try this battenburg cake recipe , or this delicious carrot cake.

    VE Day celebrations drinks ideas

    While the weather is warming up, what better time to put together everyone’s favourite summer drink – the perfect summer Pimm’s? See our Pimms recipe for the best-tasting glass here. Cocktails are always a good idea – so why not raise a glass on VE day? We love this Mojito cocktail, or this refreshing, minty melonade. If you want to jazz up your glass of fizz, try some thinly sliced strawberries, or popping in a raspberry or two. For beer fans, there are plenty of British brands that offer tasty craft lagers – the perfect drink for an afternoon spent lazing in the garden. Try this six pack of British craft lagers from Not On The High Street.

    VE Day celebraions

    For non-drinkers, an elderflower mocktail is such a treat. A good old fashioned pot of English Breakfast tea will surely go down well, too. Could be the perfect excuse to dig out that old tea set!

    And, if you’d rather lay off the backing and celebrate rhubarb season with a G&T, Warner’s Rhubarb Gin is exceedingly delicious! You can buy it HERE. It’s currently on sale!

    ve day celebrations

    VE Day activities for kids

    The kids will love decorating the house and the VE Day celebrations are a perfect time for getting them involved with some fun crafts ideas and activities, like making your own bunting, or trying some vegetable printing in shapes and patterns themed around VE Day.

    You could also try some of these baking recipes for kids to get them into the spirit of VE Day. They’re super easy to master, whether you’re a keen baker or not.

    And let’s not forget the history of VE Day and teaching kids all about the end of WW2. Twinkl have some great ideas for how to teach children about history – while making it fun.

    VE Day activities for kids

    They even have a special 75th anniversary VE Day colouring sheet that parents can download for free, as well as a WW2 Spitfire Glider paper activity craft set – that will keep little ones busy for hours! You can find out more here.

    How will you be celebrating?