The 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings falls on 6 June and although the official commemorations are by invitation only, there are still a host of events throughout Normandy for visitors to attend, from military marches to firework displays
As dusk falls on 5 June, 24 towns along the five landing beaches, from Ouistreham in the Calvados département to Sainte-Mère-Église
in the Manche, will stage synchronised firework displays to light up 80 kilometres
of the Normandy coastline.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 94 80 26
Veterans will join world leaders including the Queen and US President Barack Obama at the official state commemorations, which will be held at Sword Beach in Ouistreham, the most easterly of the five landing areas.
Concert for Freedom
Musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will join members of the Basse-Normandie Orchestra and Choir in
a performance of the Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins. Concerts will take place at Caen, Lisieux, Sainte-Mère-Église, Sées and Cherbourg, and be accompanied by
a projection of images from the archives of the Caen memorial.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 82 05 00
The first IMAX film in 3D about the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy will have four screenings at the Zénith de Caen. The impact of the historic events will not be lost on spectators watching the 40-minute high-definition documentary film on a giant 23-metre-wide screen.
Tel: (Fr) 8 91 67 00 17
In the gardens of the Pegasus Memorial Museum in Ranville, an outdoor screening of
a one-hour archive documentary entitled June 6th 1944: They Were the First will show the experiences of the British 6th Airborne Division in the opening stages of D-Day. Concerts and firework displays will follow the film screening.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 78 19 44
Around 180 historic military vehicles including jeeps, trucks and tanks will take part in a coastal procession that begins at the Pointe du Hoc headland six kilometres west of Omaha Beach. The parade will roll through the streets of Grandcamp-Maisy at noon and reach Isigny-sur-Mer (pictured above) by 6pm.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 21 46 00
Picnic on the beach
A giant picnic will be held at Omaha Beach during the evening to honour American soldiers who fought for freedom there. Around 1,500 participants are expected to gather with food hampers in-hand for a communal meal, music and parades. The event ends with the release of lanterns into the skies above the beach.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 51 39 52
The first football match held in liberated France took place on 14 July 1944 at Courseulles-sur-Mer in Calvados. As a tribute to this symbolically important game (pictured above), an international tournament is being staged on the Côte de Nacre, with 64 teams and roughly 1,000 young players competing in friendlies. German, English and Canadian teams will compete alongside French sides from towns and villages around the beaches.
Tel: (Fr) 6 77 84 22 39
As part of an international festival of military music, performers gathered from nations involved in World War II will appear at the Zénith de Caen arena. On 8 June, musicians including members of the Garde Républicaine band (pictured above) will parade through the town, departing at 3pm from Place Fontette.
Mass military and civilian parachute jumps will take place at La Fière, the 1944 drop zone three kilometres west of Sainte-Mère-Église, scene of an early engagement by American paratroopers. Several nationalities are taking part in the jump, which will precede official state ceremonies taking place that day.
Tel: (Fr) 2 33 21 00 33
Lights of freedom
14 June to 23 August (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays)
The magnificent cathedral in Bayeux stages the Rendez-Vous à la Cathédrale – a son et lumière show that tells the dramatic story of the Normandy landings, complete with music and special effects.
Tel: (Fr) 2 31 51 28 28
www.ddayfestival.com – for events in the D-Day Festival being held from 1-15 June in the immediate vicinity of the beaches.
www.the70th-normandy.com – official 70th anniversary website listing events for the rest of 2014.
www.normandy-tourism.org – plan your trip with Normandy tourist board.