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Explore Normandy’s Unrivalled History and Culture at Some of the Region’s Best Historic Festivals

Explore Normandy’s Unrivalled History and Culture at Some of the Region’s Best Historic Festivals

Normandy is renowned worldwide for its culture, cuisine, and outstanding natural beauty, but for over a millennium its history has shaped not only France, but also the world. It was the seat of kings, France’s gateway to the New World, and the first step on the road to a liberated Europe during the Second World War. This summer, sail to Normandy with DFDS and discover the region’s unparalleled historical and cultural contributions at some of its best historic festivals.

D-Day Festival, Normandy: 1st - 16th June 2024

2024 marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and Normandy is going all out with a huge programme of events over the two weeks of the festival. The region’s many museums, memorials, and monuments will be welcoming millions of visitors during this time, many travelling from around the world to pay their respects to the fallen and be part of this historic event.

Over 100 events are planned across Normandy, at all five of the landing beaches from Utah to Sword, and dozens of locations further inland. Parachute jumps, parades, and re-enactments are just some of the exciting events taking place at key locations including Arromanches, Ouistreham, and Saint-Mère-Église. New additions include the moving ‘Standing With Giants’ art installation at the British Normandy Memorial, kayaking trips around the ruins of the Mulberry Harbour, and the recently opened extension of the incredible Musée du Débarquement in Arromanches.


The official international memorial ceremony will take place on the 6th of June, with heads of state, veterans, and other officials in attendance. The British memorial ceremony will be held concurrently at the British Normandy Memorial, with His Majesty King Charles III in attendance.

Normandy Impressionism Festival, Normandy: 22nd March – 22nd September

It was a pivotal moment in the art world when a young Claude Monet met renowned painter Eugene Boudin in Honfleur in the 1850s. A quarter of a century later, Monet, Renoir, and several other notable artists came together, united by a love of painting en plein air. Impressionism was born, with Normandy its birthplace, and to celebrate 150 years of the world’s most famous art movement 150 events are taking place across the region, dedicated to the art and artists that have defined it.

Honfleur, Le Havre, Rouen, Étretat, and Giverny are among the towns and cities that provided the inspiration for Monet and his fellow impressionists, becoming the subjects of some of the most remarkable paintings ever committed to canvas.

Head to Giverny to explore Monet’s home and world-famous water garden, visit historic Rouen and marvel at David Hockney’s Normandism exhibition by day, and the spectacular Cathedral of Light son et lumière show at the cathedral by night. Or perhaps take a painting class on the breathtaking cliffs at Fécamp, then stay a while at La Ferme Saint Simeon in Honfleur, a favourite sojourn of Monet himself and described by Boudin as “the most ravishing spot in the world”.

The festival’s impressive series of events, from exhibitions to painting classes, is sure to fire up your creative engines and leave you as inspired as those early masters of impressionism, so make sure to pack your paintbrushes and head over to explore the birthplace of impressionism this summer.

Bayeux Medieval Festival, Bayeux: 5th-7th July

Normandy has a particularly strong connection with its medieval history, and the Bayeux Medieval Festival is one of the biggest and most popular celebrations of its kind in France. A real-life Festival of Fools, the festival opens with a grand medieval parade featuring an exciting array of entertainers including fire-eaters, jugglers, and stilt walkers as mythical creatures stalk the streets of Bayeux.

Dedicated and talented reenactors bring the medieval atmosphere to life, with a medieval marketplace selling all manner of medieval crafts and souvenirs, and master craftsmen teaching festivalgoers some classic traditional crafts from centuries gone by, including blacksmiths, glassmakers, and stonemasons. There is even the opportunity to try some medieval cooking! The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Death-defying acrobats and fearless firebreathers put on an impressive fire show in the evening, and, for anyone brave enough to watch, a mysterious ritual is performed by a shadowy brotherhood in the dead of night…

Cider and Dragon Festival, Merville-Franceville-Plage: 21st - 22nd September

For one weekend a year the seaside town of Merville-Franceville-Plage becomes the village of Merravilla, a fantasy realm of brave heroes, wise mages, and magic old and new as it hosts the annual Cider & Dragon Festival.

Since 2006, the festival has been a haven for fantasy fans of all ages and visitors are sure to bump into their Hogwarts classmates, Fellowship members, and Westerosi bannermen on their quest to Merravilla. A dedicated team of costumed volunteers and craftsmen bring the festival to life, constructing a whole village complete with a medieval market, thrilling tournaments, and reenactments of epic battles, while dancers, jugglers, magicians, and performers from across the nine realms put on spectacular shows for the thousands of visitors who come to the festival every year. Costumes are strongly encouraged!

At the Cider and Dragon Festival completely immerse yourself in an age of chivalry and savagery, myths and legends, and magic and mystery, all washed down with goblets and goblets of delicious local cider. Discover a new board game, take up arms in a LARP battle, or simply show off your best cosplay as you enjoy the festival and its fantastic programme of events.

Getting there

DFDS offers up to 54 crossings per day on its Dover to Calais service, with day trip fares starting at £39 return and short break fares starting at £99 return for a car and up to four people. Browse a selection of fragrances, cosmetics and electronics in DFDS’ Duty Free shops and save up to 50 per cent off UK high-street prices.

Upgrade your ticket to include access to the exclusive Premium Lounge with complimentary hot and cold drinks, freshly made sandwiches, and delicious pastries from £18 per person. Add Priority Boarding to be one of the first to board and disembark the ferry from £10 per car each way.

Travel on the newly refurbished ships on the Newhaven-Dieppe route from just £87 one way for a car and two people. Sail in style as you enjoy a delicious meal at the onboard restaurant, sit back and relax in one of the comfort lounges, or indulge in some retail therapy at the expanded Duty Free shop.

For more information or to book visit