Normandy’s D-Day, 80 Years On

Normandy’s D-Day, 80 Years On

June marks 80 years since the Allied invasion on the beaches of Normandy. Here’s what to expect from the commemorations this year.

June 6, 1944 was a turning point in global history. On that fateful day, 132,000 Allied servicemen from multiple nations stormed the beaches of Normandy, with a further 23,000 arriving by air. Braving the onslaught of German occupying forces, it’s estimated that more than 4,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice. Eighty years on, Normandy will be hosting a region-wide commemoration to honour this momentous event, paying tribute to those who died and to the surviving veterans, many of whom are now nonagenarians or centenarians, possibly attending for the very last time.

At the many beaches, battlefields, cemeteries, museums and memorial sites across the region, almost 100 commemorative events have been planned over the spring, summer and autumn of this year. As Normandy tourism explains: “Our hope is that these visits will be an opportunity to reflect and to remember, along with a special moment for visitors to share as a family with the younger generation. Lest we forget.”

The principal commemoration, by invitation only, will take place on June 6 in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, on Omaha Beach. Heads of state and VIPs from all the Allied nations involved are expected, and for security reasons, many of the beaches and sectors will be cordoned off.

For everyone else there are dozens of other events scattered across Normandy, in towns and villages along the coast as well as inland. There will be festivals, exhibitions, dances, concerts, theatrical shows, readings, film showings, parades, light shows, firework shows, sports events, commemorations and organised walks. Here we bring you our pick of the events.

Don’t Miss!

Remembering D-Day: Operation Double Cross – Tune in on June 6th at 11:30am (EST) for an exclusive online talk diving into the captivating world of wartime espionage and deception with author Stewart Ross.


All across Normandy, June I to June 16

Encompassing a range of events, including concerts, parades, exhibitions, fireworks, parachute displays and historical re-enactments, the festival will unfold all along the coastal region where the Battle of Normandy raged, stretching from Pegasus Bridge to Sainte-Mère-Église and taking in Ouistreham, Arromanches-les-Bains, La Pointe du Hoc and the five landing beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.


Ver-sur-Mer, all summer

An art installation of 1,475 silhouettes will appear around this famous memorial, representing the number of fatalities under British command on June 6, 1944.



Caen, 26-27 September

Created in 2016 to promote peace and freedom, this forum takes place every year at the Abbaye-aux-Dames in Caen, hosting conferences and bringing together leading international thinkers and Nobel Peace Prize winners.


Arromanches, all year except January

The Musée du Débarquement turns 70 this year, and last year moved into its new, larger home, still on Arromanches‘ seafront, to make room for the growing number of exhibits held here. It was on the beach at Arromanches that the Allies established the artificial Mulberry harbour to allow the unloading of heavy equipment without waiting for deep water ports such as Le Havre or Cherbourg to be conquered. This masterpiece of engineering played a key role in the Allied victory and you can still see the remains of it today.

Arromanches © shutterstock


Sainte-Marie-du-Mont all year

Stretching from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont to Quinéville, the Utah sector was key to the capture of Cherbourg. The museum, built on the spot where the landings took place, takes you through events in chronological order, a particular highlight being the B-26 bomber ‘Dinah Mite’.


Sainte-Mère-Eglise, May and June This museum pays tribute to the great sacrifice made by American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne during D-Day. Poignantly, near the museum is the belfry on which US parachutist John Steele famously became snagged that day. Despite being taken prisoner by the Germans, he escaped and rejoined his division to fight on. This year, new exhibits will be open to the public from May 8. The 2024 edition of the museum’s Camp Géronimo, its military re-enactment camp, will welcome visitors from June 1 to June 9.


Courseulles-sur-Mer, all year The taking of Juno Beach was the responsibility of the Canadian forces, and the Juno Beach Centre celebrates their heroism. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, it is revamping its Faces of Canada Today exhibition, exploring the military engagement of Canadian soldiers in June 1944. This year there’s also a new exhibition on the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Juno Beach memorial centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer © Séverine Freres


Ranville, all year (closed Dec 16 to Jan 31)

The aim of the airborne landings in the British Sector was to secure the Orne River/Caen Canal crossings and reduce enemy defences. At 00:16 on June 6, parachutists and gliders from the Airborne Division began to land, and a fierce ten-minute fire fight ensued. Pegasus bridge was captured by 00:26, a full six hours before the beach landings. The Mémorial Pégasus and museum at Ranville are dedicated to the 6th Airborne Division.


Caen, all summer

This museum and war memorial has several exhibitions planned, including one dedicated to the British war effort and another shedding light on the origins of the American soldiers who landed in Normandy.

Commemorations on Mont Ormet © Danielle Dumas


Ouistreham, all summer

This museum, at Sword Beach, tells the amazing story of Philippe Kieffer’s Franco-British commandos who stormed the shore and liberated Ouistreham on D-Day. Léon Gautier, the last veteran of this elite commando, passed away in July 2023 at the age of 100.


The many war cemeteries dotted throughout Normandy will all commemorate the 80th anniversary in some way. Here are some of the most important sites.

Ranville War Cemetery, Ranville,

Bayeux War Cemetery, Bayeux,

Normandy American Cemetery, Coleville-sur- Mer,

Brittany American Cemetery, Saint-James,

Canadian War Cemetery, Bény-sur-Mer,

La Cambe German war cemetery, La Cambe,



The lesser-known Allied landings in Provence, in August 1944, will also be commemorated this summer. Operation Dragoon saw thousands of troops landing at beaches in Le Var, including Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Raphaël and Saint-Tropez. Within two weeks, Provence had been liberated. There are dozens of commemorative events planned across the region, especially at coastal resorts, but also inland at Draguignan, Le Muy, Les Arcs-sur-Argens and Salernes.

More info:

80e-normandie.fren.normandie-tourisme. fr & beaches-and-the-battle-of-normandy

From France Today Magazine

Lead photo credit : Omaha Beach © Shutterstock

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