Bunting for VE Day: this is where to get Union Jack flags and decorations for the bank holiday - and how to make your own instead

This weekend sees a slightly reworked early May bank holiday, as the traditional break is moved to Friday May 8 in honour of the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Friday, 8th May 2020, 11:08 am

Nationwide plans had been drawn up to mark the anniversary of Victory in Europe day at the end of World War Two – but they have had to be scrapped because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Now people across the country are being urged to host a ‘stay at home street party’ on Friday – and to celebrate the date with socially distanced activities.

Organisers want people to decorate their home in red, white and blue – and enjoy a picnic in their front garden.

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(Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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Portsmouth residents called to celebrate VE Day at home to honour nation's Secon...

The idea is for neighbours in streets across Britain will come out to drape their homes in flags and bunting – and then enjoy the festivities while observing Government guidelines on social distancing, staying at least two metres apart from others, and not gathering in groups.

Residents across the city are urged to get their torches out and shine them into the sky from their gardens or balconies as part of the From Darkness to Light spectacle.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addresses the crowds from the balcony of the Ministry of Health in Whitehall on VE Day, May 8 1945. Pictures: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The two-hour display will see large spotlights shining in both the north and south of the city from 9.30pm on Friday and is part of a revamped list of activities revealed by Portsmouth City Council.

Some streets around the city are also holding their own social-distance street parties to commemorate the occasion.

How can I make my own bunting?

One of the initiatives put forward in aid of VE Day is the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign.

Everyone is asked to show off their bunting displays on social media using the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting and #VEDay75.

Director of BBC England Helen Thomas said: “Although people can’t celebrate in the way they had perhaps hoped to, we can still brighten up the streets with this special initiative in tribute to our VE Day heroes.”

So just how can you make your own bunting to inject a little bit of colour into proceedings?

The simplest method in this instance is track down the bunting template pack can be downloaded online at www.bbc.co.uk/makeadifference.

To get started, you’ll need some materials on hand, but these can be anything from paper, cereal boxes, string, ribbon, sweet wrappers, felt pens, poster paint or whatever you can find.

“You can decorate your bunting with pictures of whatever inspires you,” say the BBC, “whether it’s those who fought on the frontline or worked hard on the Homefront, or whether it’s a celebration of enduring peace or your own personal hero.”

Lance Bombardier Parkinson, who lost both legs and suffered brain damage when the armoured Land Rover he was travelling in hit a mine in Helmand Province in 2006, is backing the campaign.

In a video posted online by the BBC, he said: “I want you to join me and make great British bunting.”

Showing bunting he has created, he says: “If I can do this, anyone can.”

Where can I get Union Jack flags?

If you’d rather get your decorations in pre-made, a quick search of the usual retailers will reward you with both Union Jack bunting and flags in abundance.

Or should that be, in ‘abuntance’?

For instance, Amazon is currently selling this 32ft red, white and blue bunting for £6.99.

This full-size, 5ft flag is available for £3.95, and you can even get a flag-based table cover.

What else is happening to commemorate VE Day?

Despite the current restrictions, VE Day looks set to be a packed day of events and activities to honour the historical anniversary.

At 11am, a two-minute national silence will be held to remember the declaration of victory and the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Between 2.45 and 3.45pm, the first of two special BBC One programmes to mark VE75 will be broadcast, an including extract from Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech.

Throughout the afternoon, Britons are encouraged to hold 1940s-style afternoon tea parties at home rather than street parties, including their homemade bunting and recipes from the era.

The Queen will then address the nation at 9pm, followed by national doorstep rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

A song that was also due to be sung as part of the VE Day celebrations in London – to be performed by Bosham trio The Charlalas – has also reimagined to to honour NHS medics from trusts across the UK.

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