When Is St George’s Day 2024? (& How To Celebrate)
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When Is St George’s Day 2024? (& How To Celebrate)

England's Patron Saint day is on the horizon

St Patrick’s Day? We know it well. St George’s Day? Not so much. You’ve definitely heard of it, but have you ever celebrated it? From wearing flowers to eating pies, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Here’s exactly why we celebrate our patron saint, plus how best to celebrate St George’s Day 2024.

St George’s Day 2024

Victorian stained glass window showing Saint George with his defeated dragon.

Victorian stained glass window showing Saint George with his defeated dragon.

Who Was St George?

St George was a Christian Roman officer living in the 300s. He is thought to have been born in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey) and to have died in Lydda (modern day Israel), slain as part of the Diocletianic Persecution. Because he died for his Christian faith, St George is a martyr, and was later made a saint. Contrary to popular belief, St George was never an English knight and probably never killed a dragon (sorry). Instead, we have inherited his figure to represent valour, honour and chivalry.

What Date Is St George’s Day?

St George’s Day takes place on 23 April every year. In 2024, that’s Tuesday 23 April. In 2025, it’ll be Wednesday 23 April. That said, when St George’s Day falls too close to Easter, religious observance of the day changes. For example, in 2011, 23 April was Holy Saturday (the day prior to Easter Sunday), so St George’s Day was moved to Monday 2 May.

The 23 April is believed to be the day St George died during the Diocletianic Persecution in the year 303. Coincidentally, it’s also the date William Shakespeare died, and he was born around a similar time, too.

15th-century painting of St. George Conquering the Dragon

15th-century painting of St. George Conquering the Dragon. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

What Is The History Behind St George’s Day?

St George’s Day has been celebrated in England since 1350, when King Edward III made George the patron saint of the nation with the creation of the Order of the Garter (it wasn’t until Henry VIII’s reign, however, that the St George’s cross became the English flag). Inspired by Arthurian legends and the Knights of the Round Table, Edward III established this group of knights to inspire chivalry and honour, all inspired by the valour of St George himself.

Before then, St George’s feast day was also celebrated with vigour thanks to his chivalric associations and the legends connecting him with slaying a dragon. But by the 1400s, St George’s Day was a national holiday on par with Christmas in terms of scale of celebrations. Following the union with Scotland in the late 18th century, however, the popularity of celebrations waned. That said, appointments to the Order of the Garter are still announced every year on 23 April at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, with the King selecting up to 24 Knights and Ladies Companion (at present, there are 18, spanning former Prime Ministers to Olympic gold medallists; the youngest member is 67 years old).

How To Celebrate St George’s Day 2024

The Mayor Of London’s Annual St George’s Day Festival

Now in its seventeenth year, the Mayor of London’s annual St George’s Day festival will return on Sunday 21 April to celebrate all things English. There will be a main stage of traditional and contemporary acts alongside roaming entertainers, family activities, market stalls and English street food. Expect white and red galore, plenty of pearly kings and queens, and dragons to boot.

Details: 12–6pm on Sunday 21 April in Trafalgar Square (London WC2N 5DS).

English Heritage’s St George’s Festival At Wrest Park

The nation’s largest celebration of St George’s Day is usually courtesy of English Heritage. This year, Wrest Park will play host to an action packed weekend of celebrations, featuring shows, battles, games, performances and activities. English Heritage really leans into the George and the Dragon myths, so expect knights, horses, dragons and jousts.

Details: Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 April 2024 at Wrest Park (Silsoe MK45 4HR). Tickets start from £4 and can be booked at english-heritage.org.uk

Traditional Celebrations

Other traditional celebrations for St George’s Day include:

  • Wearing a red rose
  • Flying the St George’s cross
  • Parades
  • Morris dancing
  • Enjoying traditional food like Shepherd’s Pie, Yorkshire puddings and fish cakes
  • Reading the work of famous English authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare
  • Visiting historic sites, from stately homes to castles to ye olde pubs
Three leadlight windows at traditional London pub

Getty Images

Why Do We Celebrate St George’s Day?

We celebrate St George’s Day because he is the patron saint of England and to honour the brave man’s legacy. That said, the scale of celebrations has decreased massively in the UK over time. Elsewhere, George is also the patron saint of Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Ethiopia and Catalonia.

What Happens On St George’s Day?

Many celebrations are organised to commemorate St George’s Day, from parties to feasts. The main happenings, however, are church services celebrating the religious dimensions of the saint, often including the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ by William Blake.