Updated on 17 April 2023
Reading time: 4 minutes
D-Day and Battle of Normandy sites between Utah and Sword Beaches
27 May - August 2023
2023 marks the 79th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Based on this year’s commemorations paying tribute to the heroes who came from far and wide to restore freedom to Europe, here’s an idea of what to expect.
The D-Day Festival
Every year, the tourist offices situated along and near the D-Day Landing Beaches come together to coordinate the D-Day Festival, which features commemorative events and festivities on the five D-Day Landing Beaches and in Sainte-Mère-Église, Bayeux and Arromanches-les-Bains (Gold Beach sector) to name a few places.
the British Normandy Memorial
British armed forces played a central role in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, and more than 22,000 made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Until now, there had been no single memorial dedicated to their remembrance. The Normandy Memorial Trust was created in 2016 to realise the dream of Normandy Veterans to have a British Normandy Memorial and, following nearly six years of hard work, it opened on 6 June 2021, to mark the 77th Anniversary of D-Day. This beautiful new memorial is located in the seaside village of Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach.
1- History hubs on JunO Beach
Follow the ‘In their footsteps‘ walking trail through the Juno Beach sector and uncover the stories of the people who lived through D-Day. Passing through the towns of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, Langrune-sur-Mer, Luc-sur-Mer, Reviers-Beny-sur-Mer and Douvres-la-Délivrande, the trail features seven ‘history hubs’ displaying the witness accounts and biographies of soldiers and locals who experienced the Occupation, Landings and Liberation. The hubs will also feature archive photos, information on the Atlantic Wall and the movements of the Allied troops.
2- audio tourS on Sword Beach
Visit the seaside town of Ouistreham in the Sword Beach sector and rent an umbrella from the local tourist office, fitted with headphones and GPS. Plug in and follow the 2km La Délicate audio tour through Ouistreham and the neighbouring towns of Lion-sur-Mer and Colleville-Montgomery, learning all about this area’s D-Day history and admiring the grand villas along the seafront.
3- guided tours with live performers
Every year in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont in the Utah Beach sector, history enthusiast and local B&B owner Jean Ferrolliet runs guided night tours of the Holdy Battery, with theatrical performances along the way. Immerse yourself in the the critical first hours of combat between German and American forces on 6 June 1944.
4- a real C-47 Dakota aircraft
Visit the Merville Battery Museum for a chance to climb into a real C-47 Dakota SNAFU Special involved in the airborne assaults on D-Day, and get a feel of what paratroopers went through on their journey across the English Channel. This superb American-made aircraft is the only one of its kind in Normandy to be a listed historic monument.
5- Guided tours oN Utah Beach
Embark on a 23km ‘In the footsteps of our liberators’ guided walking tour, which explains the many challenges facing Utah Beach, the only landing beach situated in the Manche département and one that was later added to Operation Overlord to ensure an early capture of Cherbourg. Immerse yourself in the action from the moment the Americans landed to the moment they met with the airborne divisions.
6- showS and demoS in Sainte-Mère Eglise
Enjoy an evening of music in Sainte-Mère-Eglise courtesy of the Normandy Jazz Patrol and the Satin Doll Sisters. At 11pm, there will also be an anti-aircraft protection device demo around the church, complete with searchlights.
7- Witness accounts in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer
Experience the D-Day Landings and the Occupation through the eyes of the people of Saint-Aubin on these two special guided tours, which feature colourful witness accounts of the events during this time from several inhabitants of the town.
8- An Evening at CanAda House
Canada House in Bernières-sur-Mer, one of the first houses liberated by Canadian soldiers on D-Day, is hosting an evening of remembrance featuring bagpipers, flower laying and the releasing of lanterns into the sky on Juno Beach.
9- Liberation parade in port-en-Bessin
Celebrate the Liberation at this triumphant parade of military vehicles and re-enactors through the town of Port-en-Bessin, and even get involved in the 1940s theme yourself by dressing up in period attire!
10- ‘The night they landed’ fireworks
Marvel at the impressive ‘The night they landed’ fireworks display which takes place over the old German battery in Longues-sur-Mer.
11- A Concert in Bénouville
Just across the Caen Canal from Pegasus Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in military history, is the town of Bénouville, where you can enjoy an evening of live music.