A round-up of special exhibitions, events, coach trips and holidays to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings in 2024. 

People watching footage in the D-Day experience at Bletchley Park

Source: Andy Stagg

D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion explores Bletchley Park’s crucial role in the D-Day invasion.

Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire

The intriguing site produced vital intelligence that informed the Allies invasion plans in the years, months, weeks and days leading up to the D-Day invasion and beyond. Groups can visit its permanent immersive cinematic experience, D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion located in the wartime Teleprinter Building. 

Highlights of the experience include; direct examples of when Bletchley Park intelligence altered the Allied invasion plans and helped to save lives; how vast the codebreaking operation was at Bletchley Park, growing from a few hundred people to employing thousands of men and women working around the clock in 1944. 

There will also be pop-up D-Day activities at the site between 16th May and 16th June including a display in Hut 8 featuring newly commissioned illustrations that highlight the hut’s little-known role as an intercept station in the build-up to, and during D-Day. 

And groups can take on a D-Day Spotlights QR code tour focusing on locations linked to D-Day activities such as the Research Section based at the back of the Mansion who worked on the Lorenz cipher, a significant source of intel in the run-up to the invasion. 

National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

On 6th June, the National Memorial Arboretum will commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day 80 with a large-scale Service of Remembrance from 1pm. Groups are welcome to join on a pay as you go basis, or mark the event with a special two-course lunch package, along with a live stream of the service in Aspects, the arboretum’s dedicated events facility. 

Group at the National Memorial Arboretum

Groups can book a 1944 guided walk around the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and find out more about the significant memorials on site. 

Throughout 2024, the arboretum will have a special programme of events and exhibitions entitled 1944 – What’s your connection? In addition, they will be offering groups a 1944 guided walk, curated to lead visitors through the significant memorials across the site. Expert guides will share real life veteran stories and explain the historical significance behind each memorial. For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, there will also be a free 1944 adult trail available.

The D-Day Story, Portsmouth

Groups can book a guided tour to find out more about the Landing Craft Tank (LCT) 7074 and the vital role it played in transporting men and supplies across the English Channel. Now displayed outside The D-Day Story, it’s the last surviving LCT from D-Day. GTOs can also find out more about the Overlord Embroidery, which measures 83 metres and tells the story of D-Day and the Normandy Landings in a very different way. 

The Landing Craft Tank LCT 7074 displayed outside The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth

Groups can step on board the Landing Craft Tank LCT 7074 at The D-Day Story in Portsmouth. It’s the last surviving of its kind from D-Day.

The team can also create bespoke talks based on individual group requests depending on the interest of the group. And exclusively for this year, the museum is leading a project called D-Day in 80 objects in collaboration with major British and US military history museums. It will showcase 80 objects which capture the huge scale of the operation and extensive preparations, as well as the deep personal impact on the participants and their families.

Highlights include the Dickin Medal awarded to Gustav the pigeon, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, which was awarded after Gustav flew 150 miles to bring back the first message from France on D-Day. 

Black Country Living Museum, Dudley

The team will be highlighting Black Country individuals who served together with local industries to make munitions or hardware that supported Britain’s campaign throughout the year. 

A man dressed up for the 1940s weekend at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley

The historic streets of the Black Country Living Museum will be transformed for the special 1940s weekend this July.

They are also running a 1940s weekend (13th-14th July) including a special evening event on the Saturday where the museum’s historic streets will be transformed into a home-front community. Groups are invited to get their glad-rags on and enjoy live music from vintage singers, as well as a host of other entertainment, including reenactors to meet and, vintage markets to browse.

Just Go! Holidays coach trip

A specialist battlefield guide will take groups to the British Normandy Memorial, overlooking Gold Beach which honours all those under British command who never came home from Normandy in the summer of 1944.

The British Normandy Memorial in France

Source: © Marie-Anaïs Thierry - Normandy Tourism

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 Sunday 6th June 2021.

The experience will feature a guided tour of the D-Day Landing beaches, as well as the fishing port of Honfleur, the seaside resort of Trouville-sur-Mer and historic Rouen. Just Go! Holidays is offering July and October dates. 

About the British Normandy Memorial

Just outside the village of Ver-sur-Mer overlooking Gold Beach, the British Normandy Memorial records the names of all those under British command who lost their lives in Normandy between 6th June and 31st August, 1944.

Duxford’s D-Day 80 Air Show

Taking place on 1st and 2nd June, the air show in Cambridgeshire will commemorate the D-Day anniversary through a live-action flying display plus there will be plenty of aerobatics and family-friendly favourites for all ages to enjoy. 

Performing at the air show for the first time are The Flying Bulls, based in Salzburg, Austria, and are a unique collection of rare historic aircraft and helicopters. 

Ambassador Cruise Line’s D-Day sailings

The cruise line’s Ambition and Ambience ships will be sailing in tandem to the Normandy coast in June to mark the 80th anniversary. 

The six-day D-Day Anniversary Voyage on board Ambition, will depart from Bristol Royal Portbury on 2nd June, calling at ports along Britain’s south coast and France (St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Le Havre, St. Mary’s off the coast of Cornwall).

The 13-night Round Britain D-Day Anniversary Voyage on board Ambience will set sail on 4th June from London Tilbury, calling at Anglesey, the Isles of Scilly and Orkney, Honfleur and Cobh in Ireland.

The Les Braves Omaha Beach Memorial in Normandy

Les Braves (The Braves) is a sculpture in tribute to the Allies that landed on Omaha beach. It’s located in Vierville-sur-Mer.

Both ships will sail towards the coast of Normandy, home to the five beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. A day at anchor off the coast will allow guests on both ships to reflect and pay their respects.

Groups on board can also expect entertainment to mark the historic event, guest speakers, a Great British Deck party with afternoon tea, a commemorative pin badge and more. Benefits with Ambassador include a 5% discount on all fares, free places, a group cocktail party and free name changes up until 90 days to departure. 

Ramble Worldwide’s Historic Normandy holiday

New last year, Historic Normandy is a seven-night itinerary exploring this area of France taking in the city of Rouen and Normandy’s coast, starting from the elegant cliffs of Etretat. 

The trip begins in Rouen with a guided tour during which you’ll see the gothic Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen and the Place du Vieux Marché - site of Joan of Arc’s execution. The itinerary takes in the countryside on the banks of the Seine, through the grounds of the ghostly white-stone ruins of the medieval Abbaye de Jumièges and in Monet’s gardens at Giverny where the subject of many of his Impressionist paintings are brought to life.