How to celebrate VE Day while in lockdown - plus full timings of planned events

Thursday, 7th May 2020, 4:03 pm
Updated Friday, 8th May 2020, 9:02 am
What are your VE Day plans? (Photo: Shutterstock)

VE Day, which stands for Victory in Europe Day, is a huge celebration, marking the end of World War II.

With this year the 75th anniversary of the occasion, a raft of public commemorations had been planned, including veteran parades and street parties.

However, given that the coronavirus lockdown continues, these plans have been put on hold or cancelled altogether.

With that in mind, here are 10 suggestions to help you celebrate VE Day at home this year.

Bake some wartime treats

You can celebrate VE Day by baking cakes and cookies using only simple wartime ingredients.

For example, carrot cake. Carrots were often used as a replacement for sugar in many cake and biscuit recipes during the war.

You’ll need:

  • 225g of self raising flour
  • 90g of margarine
  • 110g grated carrot
  • 60g of sultanas
  • A splash of milk or water
  • An egg

To make the cake, preheat your oven to 220ºC and sift your flour into a mixing bowl. Rub in the margarine, add the sugar, carrot, sultanas and the egg.

Mix everything together and add a bit of milk or water to make the mixture nice and sticky. Pop your cake batter into a lined baking tin and cook until golden in colour.

Alternatively, some oaty biscuits might be more up your street. You can use a simple recipe with oats, margarine, sugar, flour, egg and milk, and try adding sultanas or lemon zest to make them more interesting.

Tune into The Wireless

On Friday 8 May, Angel Rippon will join Age UK’s online radio station, The Wireless for The Germ of an Idea, a programme which outlines how the NHS was formed after VE Day in 1945.

Also included in the programme are a whole host of classic 1940s hits, like songs from Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Gracie Fields and of course, Dame Vera Lynn.

The programme will also hear Dorothy Griffiths (nee White) talk about her experience of evacuations, the air raid shelter in the garden and rationing.

You can listen to The Wireless via Amazon Alex, Google Home, other smart speakers and the internet on TuneIn.com

Visit Imperial War Museums virtually

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Imperial War Museums is sharing the personal stories of those who stood together during a time of national crisis, as well as their reflections once the fighting stopped.

The website explains that Imperial War Museums is asking people to come together on the Bank Holiday to listen to their Voices of War soundscape, which features first hand accounts of VE Day from the Imperial War Museums archive.

You can learn more about what Imperial War Museums is doing to celebrate VE Day on their website here.

Listen to the D-Day Darlings’ new album

The D-Day Darlings are the UK’s premier wartime group, and were signed to Sony Music UK after reaching the finals in ITV’s Britain's Got Talent.

The D-Day Darlings are made up of: Katie Ashby, Emily Jane Brooks, Nichola Roberts, Jessica Hudson, Louise Kindsvator, Amy Rhinnon Worth, Kylie Bates, Alexandra Hans and Emily Louise Brown.

Due to be launched on Friday 8 May, the D-Day Darlings will release a deluxe edition of their hit debut album ‘I’ll Remember You’, which features a new version of Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and four brand new tracks, including ‘Sweetheart’, an ode written for Dame Vera Lynn for her 103rd birthday.

Make your own Great British Bunting

While street parties are not permitted given lockdown rules, that doesn’t meet your street should remain bare this VE Day - why not make your own Great British bunting?

You can make your bunting out of anything you have on hand - like paper, cereal boxes, string, ribbon, felt pens - so you don’t have to worry about needing supplies to get involved.

You can decorate your bunting however you please - whether it’s something that inspires you, a tribute to those who fought on the frontline or for a personal hero in your life.

You can download the templates and instructions here - and if you’re feeling proud of your creations, you should take a picture and pop them on social media, using the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting and #VEDay75.

Tune into the Queen’s speech

At 9pm on Friday 8 May, BBC One will play a pre-recorded address from the Queen - at the exact same moment her father, King George IV, gave the radio address 75 years ago.

The address comes from Windsor Castle, and the Queen will describe the personal significance of VE Day in a personal speech.

Prince Charles will also read an excerpt from his grandfather’s diary which describes events that took place on 8 May 1945, including the Royal Family’s iconic Buckingham Palace balcony appearances.

Earlier in the day, at 2:45pm, Winston Churchill’s speech will be broadcast as well as part of a set of special VE Day programming from the BBC.

Put on a wartime buffet

The UK government has set up a dedicated website with VE Day stay at home celebration ideas.

One idea that’s suggested is to put on a VE Day buffet - as the website says, “what’s a party without a buffet?”

The suggested menu goes as follows:

  • Cauliflower cheese with bacon, which aims to make the most of the rationed cheese people received with a British classic
  • Spam hash - a can of spam can last five meals according to the government, so a little really goes a long way here
  • Homity pie, which is a rich pie made with potato, onion and cheese filling, said to be made by Land Girls during World War II
  • Vegetable turnovers, which are similar to the Homity Pie, but in pasty form
  • Muscovado flapjacks, inspired by Pru Leith’s VE Day recipe here
  • Alternatively, why not try Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Husssain’s preserved lemon traybake - you can find the recipe here

Follow the official Stay At Home Streetparty schedule

A Stay at Home Streetparty schedule has been making the rounds on social media, with the official schedule going as follows:

  • 11am: observe the two minute silence on your doorstep
  • 3pm: watch the Churchill speech shown on the BBC
  • 4pm: head to your garden or your living room with picnic blankets to enjoy some tea and scones or coffee and cake
  • 6pm: have dinner and raise a glass to your neighbours
  • 9pm: take part in the nationwide sing-a-long to ‘We’ll Meet Again’ with Royal British Legion after
  • the Queen’s address

The schedule also encourages partygoers to decorate their house in red, white and blue in celebration.

Whip up some wartime beverages

You don’t have to spend VE Day cooking and baking if you don’t want to - why not celebrate with a glass of homemade lemonade, or ginger beer?

These wartime favourites are easy to whip up at home.

This PDF pack from English Heritage shows you how to make many wartime favourites. For lemonade, all you need is:

  • Three lemons
  • 55g granulated sugar
  • Two pints of water

Peel the rind from the lemons and cut them into 1cm slices - place the rinds in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them. Let the rind and sugar mixture sit for an hour.

Boil the water in a pot then pour over the sugar and lemon rinds - allow this mixture to cool and then strain.

Squeeze the juice from your lemons into a separate bowl. Pour through a sieve to make sure no seeds or bits of pulp make it into your lemonade. Combine your two mixtures together and pop it in the fridge.

Serve with ice and you’ve got homemade lemonade ready to go.

Learn to dance the Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is a swing dance that originated in New York in the late 1920s and early 1930s - it gained popularity in the UK in the 1940s due to the American servicemen stationed here during the Second World War.

This YouTube video guides you on how to do a basic Lindy Hop dance.