PEOPLE from Stratford towns around the globe will converge on the small Wellington Shire township next year as part of the Stratford Sister Cities reunion.
Stratford Victoria Sister Cities is a member of the global sister cities organisation, whose members meet once every 12 or 18 months and have a common aim of exchanging cultures and celebrating similarities and differences.
Secretary Hilary Rash said there was a requirement to have some kind of celebration of Shakespeare within the town to be part of the organisation, but the focus was on "friendship and fun".
The group will host the Stratford Sister Cities world reunion next year, and is expecting about 100 overseas visitors to come and experience the delights of Stratford Victoria and beyond.
Fourteen years ago, in 2003, about 100 people came to Stratford, Victoria. They enjoyed a full program of events, many visiting other parts of the country afterwards.
The sister cities program began in 1985 when Stratfordians from Connecticut in the United States and Ontario, Canada, set up a program of cultural and social events, shortly afterwards joined by their namesake from Warwickshire in the West Midlands of England.
Then towns from Prince Edward Island, Canada, Australia and New Zealand expanded the group in the late 1990s.
Last year Mrs Rash and other Stratfordians of the world gathered at Stratford-Upon-Avon in the United Kingdom for the special 400th Shakespeare anniversary festivities, including the Shakespeare birthday parade.
Mrs Rash said most of the local members had travelled extensively since joining the program, with the reunions having already been held in Canada three times, New Zealand and the UK twice, as well as Australia and the United States.
"We have had great experiences and made great friends, and it's a really good reason to travel and explore the world," she said.
"I'm constantly in touch on Skype with the people I have met overseas, and we share that connection and interest in cultures, travel and cultivating friendships."
Mrs Rash said members were planning a feast of activities for the other Strafordians to showcase the features of the town and the wider region.
People from Stratford or surrounding towns interested in finding out about hosting visitors for the next Stratford reunion in late 2018 can pick up a form from the Stratford post office or Stratford newsagency, or phone Hilary Rash on 5145 6473.
There will be an information session later this year where more information will be provided.