Westminster Abbey to lead VE Day celebrations

Monday, 24th February 2020

Westminster Abbey to lead VE Day celebrations

Westminster Abbey will mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day with a Service of Thanksgiving on Friday 8th May at 12.00pm.

The service, which will be attended by hundreds of veterans and representatives of the Second World War generation, will form part of the nation’s celebrations marking the VE Day anniversary.

On 8th May 1945, the Allied Powers formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the Armed Forces of Nazi Germany and the end of the Third Reich. More than one million people converged on the streets of the United Kingdom to celebrate. The Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast to the nation at 3.00pm announcing that war in Europe was finally at an end.

Short services of thanksgiving were held in the Abbey every hour from 9.00am to 10.00pm, attended by a total of more than 25,000 people. A service was also held the following Sunday, 13th May, when the standards of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were laid on the High Altar to symbolise the loyalty of the whole Empire during the war.

The government has announced that this year’s May Day Bank Holiday will be moved from Monday 4th to Friday 8th May so that commemorations can be held to coincide with the anniversary.

Events will include a broadcast of extracts of Churchill's victory speech over the Mall, and a fly past over Buckingham Palace by the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Voices of War, a series of personal testimonies of those who experienced VE Day from the Imperial War Museum’s sound archive, will be played at landmarks across the country, and communities will be encouraged to take part in parades and street parties to recreate the national outpouring of thanksgiving that took place on 8th May 1945.

The Abbey's service will be televised live by the BBC.