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Commemorating D-Day in Normandy: Special Events and Tours

May 19, 2014

June 6 will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy and began the process of liberating France and the rest of Europe from Nazi occupation. 

In France, special events are slated to commemorate the anniversary. June 6 is recognized as a holiday in the country, and national monuments are traditionally adorned with flags and flowers to honor the fallen. Here are some upcoming events in and around Normandy. 


Military Vehicle Parade (June 7 at 2 pm)
As part of the Normandy D-Day Festival, the Military Vehicle Conservation Group (MVCG) will show the most beautiful pieces of their collection during a parade through the streets of Grandcamp-Maisy and Isigny-sur-Mer.

Concert For Freedom (June 5)
This musical event will celebrate the reconciliation of peoples, human rights, peace and freedom through orchestral and choral performances.

Cinema-theatre show with nightly battlefield tours (June 5-15)
Through cinema and theatre, this show will recount the night of June 5 to 6, 1944 as experienced by civilians with an interactive tour of the battlefield and its remnants. The show will begin with a jazz concert.

Blaze of the Coast (June 5 at 11 p.m.)
24 intense, rhythmic, fully automated and synchronized fireworks on all 24 major landing sites along the Normandy coast. 

The Freedom Tournament (June 7)
The first international soccer game in liberated France took place on July 14, 1944 in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The Côte de Nacre Football Club offers the chance to relive the event through an international soccer tournament, with 64 teams and almost 1,000 children participating.

Freedom Tattoo Military Music Festival (June 7-9)
The Military Music Festival brings together about 650 French, Belgian, Canadian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, British, American and German musicians at the Zénith de Caen.

Events at the Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre, a Canadian museum and cultural centre in Normandy, will be holding several special events:

New film - "They Walk With You"
This new 12-minute film, "They Walk with You," will focus on what  the Allied Forces experienced during the Battle of Normandy.

Temporary exhibit - "Grandma, what was it like during the War?"
This exhibit, conceived and created by the Juno Beach Centre especially for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, tells the story of Norman civilians (specifically children) from 1940 to 1944. 

Good to know: Pending official information, the Juno Beach Centre will very likely be closed to the public on June 5 and 6 while official ceremonies take place, so plan visits before or after these dates.


14 cities and towns of Calvados during the war, 1943-1945 (Through August)
This traveling photographic exhibition will run in 14 municipalities of the department, commemorating the sacrifice of civilians during the Battle of Normandy and illustrating the tremendous momentum that led to the reconstruction of the Calvados in each of the towns.

Children in 1945, War and Insouciance (Through September 30)
This exhibition at Festyland Park will consist of 20 giant photographs displayed on large easels with a focus on the lives of children during the war. 

Allies, enemies and afterwards? (Through November 30)
This exhibition examines Cherbourg’s international relations and identity rebuilding after the Second World War based on archival and iconographic documents, as well as objects from Cherbourgeoises collections.

Documentaries and Films

Film screenings (Through August)
One evening per month will be dedicated to the theme of the Battle of Normandy, with alternation between fiction, archives and documentary films.

Screening of “The Release of the Canton of Livarot” (June 6)
The community of Livarot will present the film “The release of the Canton of Livarot” at the cinema Le Parc, a 52-minute documentary based on interviews with people who experienced the liberation of the territory.


Several tour operators are also offering trips to Normandy this year. Tours International has several themed trips planned for the remainder of 2014, and while several of these may be sold out, they seem worth checking for availability. CrosiEurope, meanwhile, has a special Normandy excursion on a cruise from Paris to the coast, and Central Holidays has a day-long visit to the beaches on the Paris, Normandy and Loire Valley tour.

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