Normandy honoured the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in the company of a raft of luminaries but the events are not over in this lovely part of northern France…
Right up until the end of the summer you can immerse yourself in D-Day and 40s fever with liberation balls, parades, open-air film screenings, firework displays, exhibitions, concerts and much more.
After the Allied landings on 6th June 1944, the Battle of Normandy raged for another 100 days and to mark the 70th anniversary, the special events calendar will last the full 100 days. Many of the region’s towns and villages will be holding events to commemorate the date of their liberation – for more details, please take a look at the official calendar of 70th Anniversary events, the Normandy Tourist Board’s D-Day pages and the official 70thAnniversary website.
Summary of D-Day 70 Normandy event highlights:
The Lights of Freedom: Bayeux, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays until 23rd August (except 1st, 2rd and 5th July) – FREE
From nightfall until 12.30am, a spectacular sound and light show extravaganza will see the city’s magnificent 12th century cathedral light up in a rainbow of colours. The cathedral will be open exceptionally between 8.30 – 10.30pm on these dates.
Liberation Ball: Cherbourg, 26th June, 9pm, Place Centrale- FREE
A 40s style open-air liberation ball will take place on the quayside with a display of 40s military vehicles, live music and fireworks – come in 40s dress.
Reconstruction of A11 Airfield, film projections and 40s dance: Neuilly –la- Forêt (near Carentan), 19th – 20th July – FREE
A reconstruction of the A11 aerodrome will be installed, including scale World War II model aircraft and re-enactors specialised in American Air force aviation will bring the airfield to life. On Saturday evening there will be a 40s dance from 7pm and on Sunday at 6pm there will be an open-air screening of films from the era.
51st Highland Division Paddle Tour of Normandy: Various locations, 16th – 24th August – FREE
In memory of the Scottish regiments who liberated several Norman towns and villages in the summer of 1944, the French 51st Highland Division Memorial Pipe Band will tour the region. There will be exhibitions about the Scottish Regiment, haggis tasting, live pipe band music, parades, commemorative ceremonies, film screenings, BBQs and much more.
Overlord Jazz Concert and Cocktail party: Touques, 22nd August, 7pm – FREE
As part of the ‘Jazz and Cocktail Fridays Festival,’ the ‘Overlord Octet,’ an ensemble of six musicians, will give a D-Day70 special concert. The group offer an original spin on Glenn Miller’s music – this is sure to be a fun evening.
‘In Memory of our Fathers’ Concert: Argentan, 22nd & 23rd August, 9pm – FREE (booking required)
This special 70th anniversary concert will bring together on stage 65 singers and instrumentalists for a World War II themed evening of film, music from the big screen and song. From the Atlantic Wall system of coastal fortifications, to the Red Line, the show is packed with touching, moving and symbolic tunes, making for a poignant trip down memory lane.
Key D-Day sites in Normandy:
The Caen Memorial, Caen: For an encyclopaedic guide to World War II, the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, this is the place! A new exhibition space recreates General Richter’s subterranean bunker and a special temporary exhibition, ‘The 100 objects of the 100 days of the Battle of Normandy’ tells the tale of the Battle of Normandy through symbolic objects. normandy.memorial-caen.com
Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-Mer: Located in the heart of the British-Canadian landing zone, the Juno Beach Centre is the only Canadian museum devoted to the D-Day landing beaches and is brilliantly adapted to teach children more about the war. This year they have a temporary exhibition just for families, “Grandma, what was it like during the war?”
Arromanches 360° Circular Cinema, Arromanches: The film, ‘Normandy’s 100 Days,’ features powerful archive images and footage from around the world, projected onto nine screens, taking the viewer on an immersive and emotional journey. The film retraces the Battle of Normandy from the preparations for the D-Day Landings to the Liberation of Paris.
Montormel Memorial, Mont-Ormel: Overlooking the scene of the final and bloodiest battle of Normandy, the Memorial tells the story of the battle of the Falaise gap and makes for a fascinating visit. From the Memorial you can set out on a 12-mile driving tour around the battlefield – ten roadside panels at key sites recount the history of this decisive battle.
Airborne Museum , Sainte-Mère-Église: Dedicated to the US paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, a recently opened wing-shaped exhibition space offers visitors an immersive experience. Follow in the steps of a US paratrooper during the battles that took place in Sainte-Mère-Église, in marshes of the Cotentin and during the taking of bridges. Visitors can also go into a C-47 plane – the same plane that dropped paratroopers in Normandy during the night of June 5th 1944.
Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg: Found in the old maritime station complex, the museum dedicated to man’s adventures in the sea has a temporary exhibition running until 30th September, ‘Cherbourg… and freedom came from the sea.’ Showcasing previously unseen archive images, the exhibition tells the story of the technical and human prowess that turned the Port of Cherbourg into the logistical hub of the liberation of France.
Information about all the D-Day sites in Normandy can be found on the Normandy Tourist Board’s website: www.normandy-dday.com