With every street name in Stratford linked to a Shakespearean play or other work, you don't have to go far to spot the town's connection with the Bard of Avon.
Since the naming of the town's first streets back in the 1870s, the town's links with Shakespeare have been part of its identity. These connections were formalised in 2019, when Stratford District Council elected members voted unanimously to adopt Shakespeare as Stratford's official identity.
Councillor Gloria Webby, who spoke in favour of the decision at the time, is now encouraging people to embrace the town's identity more.
"It would be just wonderful to really celebrate Shakespeare in the town."
Gloria and some other local Shakespeare enthusiasts are planning a "celebration of all things Shakespeare" in April this year.
"April is both his birth month and the month in which he died, so it is the obvious month to focus on Shakespeare," says Mike Radich, a former chairman of the Stratford Shakespeare Society.
He says he envisions a range of activities and events taking place over the month and hopes people will be inspired to organise events themselves to celebrate and reflect the town's links to the Elizabethan playwright.
"People could hold street parties, perhaps somehow reflecting the play or sonnet their street is named for."
Businesses can get involved too he says, something Stratford Business Association (SBA) deputy chair Min McKay says could be as simple as a window display.
"The SBA is keen to support the initiative and will work with businesses in the district to find ways they can embrace the theme over the month of April.
"Window displays are one way shops and businesses can get involved and it has the added benefit of making the town look fresh and vibrant with eye-catching displays in the windows."
Mike says local brewing company Forgotten 43 Brewing is looking to create a special beer for the month. And gin lovers won't be left out either, says Jo Stallard.
Jo, who co-owns and operates Fenton Street Art Collective with partner Stuart Greenhill, says Stuart is planning to create a special gin to celebrate the month as well.
"He is researching the particular botanicals, etc, that would work well to create a unique gin to reflect the time and place."
Gloria says she hopes to get her fellow councillors involved in fully embracing the links with Shakespeare as well.
"We have been in recess so I haven't been able to raise it with them yet, but I would love to have them each choose or be assigned a specific Shakespearean character to research and then perhaps present their research at a council meeting or a workshop."
Mike says they want to hear from anyone in the community who has ideas on ways Shakespeare can be celebrated during April, or who would like to get involved in some way. It will be a great way to encourage people to visit the town during April, he says.
"It coincides with the school holidays, and with people unable to really go overseas right now, why not give them a reason to come to Stratford? This isn't just for people in Stratford, but for people to come from all over New Zealand and enjoy our town and its unique identity."
Jo says there are lots of ways people can embrace the theme.
"There are a lot of creative people in Stratford who have great ideas and we welcome anyone and everyone to get involved in celebrating Shakespeare with us."
Anyone who would like to get involved, find out more, or share their own ideas are welcome to call in to see Jo at the Fenton Street Art Collective.