D-Day 80: Events in Portsmouth to mark the Normandy Landings - royal visitors, the red arrows and more

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Portsmouth will take centre stage this summer as the UK marks 80 years since the momentous D-Day landings in Normandy - here is how the city will mark the anniversary.

Here are all the details for Portsmouth’s D-Day events, and those in the surrounding area, on the week of the Normandy Landings anniversary on Thursday, June 6.

Spinnaker Tower photography exhibition - June 1 to 9

Portsmouth's iconic Spinnaker Tower will host an exhibitionPortsmouth's iconic Spinnaker Tower will host an exhibition
Portsmouth's iconic Spinnaker Tower will host an exhibition

Portsmouth’s iconic Spinnaker Tower will commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a special photography exhibition, light show and more. From June 1 to 9, Spinnaker Tower’s view deck, 100 metres above the harbour, will display a selection of striking D-Day photographs on loan from The D-Day Story, Portsmouth and The News.

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Captured in June 1944, these photos show some of the unmissable sights you can see from the tower and tell the story of British troops leaving Portsmouth Harbour for Normandy.

Between June 1 and 9, Spinnaker Tower guests with an all-day admission ticket will receive a voucher for a complimentary cream tea in the waterfront Spinnaker Kitchen and Bar. The evenings of June 5 and 6 will see Spinnaker Tower illuminated in red, white and blue and the interior decorated with bunting to honour D-Day.

D-Day Firepower Weekend at Fort Nelson - Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2

Kicking off the week of spectacular commemorative events, Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill will invite visitors to see “Second World War artillery displays, re-enactors and military vehicles, as well as contemporary music from singing duo Perfect Vintage.” Also taking place at the fort - home to much of the Royal Armouries collection - will be children’s activities, face painting, search and rescue dog demonstrations, Second World War reenactors and more. You can find all the details for this here.

Veterans to meet local school children and tour Southwick House - Monday, June 3

On June 3, a number of Normandy veterans will share their stories with Portsmouth schoolchildren and serving Royal Marines from 47 Commando. They will then be shown around Southwick House in Southwick which played an important role in the war with General Eisenhower directing operations from its map room in 1944. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will perform a fly-past.

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Sunday Night is Music Night at the Portsmouth Guildhall - Monday, June 3

Vernon Kay (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)Vernon Kay (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Vernon Kay (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images) | (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

​As part of D-Day 80, Radio ​is marking the occasion with a special Sunday Night is Music Night concert to be recorded at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, June 3, hosted by Vernon Kay at 7pm.

It features the combined musical forces of the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Big Band performing some of the best loved and most enduring music of that era. The concert features classic film scores, including Maurice Jarre’s The Longest Day, Gerard Schurmann’s Attack On The Iron Coast, John Addison’s A Bridge Too Far and John Williams’ Hymn To The Fallen from Saving Private Ryan. Musicians also played an important role during those times, most notably Glenn Miller’s United States Army Air Force Band.

Huge Southsea Common commemorative events - Wednesday, June 5

Preparations are underway for the D-Day Commemorations on Southsea CommonPreparations are underway for the D-Day Commemorations on Southsea Common
Preparations are underway for the D-Day Commemorations on Southsea Common | Marcin Jedrysiak

Portsmouth is at the centre of the UK’s commemorations with two huge ticketed events taking place on Southsea Common on June 5 - one in the daytime and one in the evening.

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The daytime event will feature famous faces, feature powerful testimonies from military personnel and D-Day veterans as well as musical performances by a military orchestra. It is also expected to feature a flypast from the Red Arrows. The evening event will be a community vigil to fallen Allied soldiers who fought and died during D Day operations and include a live broadcast from Bayeux War Cemetery in France where other commemorative events are taking place. There will also be live music performances and moving testimony from those who were there and will include a stunning lightshow, calling to mind the treacherous sea crossing taken 80 years ago.

More than 500 members of the Armed Forces are involved in the event, including a 79-piece orchestra, a 25-strong choir and drummers from the Royal Marines and a guard of honour will be formed by Armed Forces personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

Free tickets for local residents were quickly snapped up with King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William confirmed to attend. However Portsmouth residents without tickets have been warned there will be very little to see outside of the event area and are being encouraged to watch it on television.

Piper at Theatre of the Sea - Thursday, June 6

At 6.30am, local piper, Caroline Henton, will pipe in the day, as the piper did in Normandy on D-Day 80 years ago at the Theatre of the Sea on the new promenade at Southsea Castle. Caroline will play some of the songs that were played on that day including Road to the Isles, Skye Boat song, Highland Laddie and The Nut Brown Maiden.

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D-Day memorial - Thursday, June 6

Portsmouth can again pay its respects at the Royal British Legion's annual D-Day Memorial Event which will be held from 10.30am to midday. The event will include a military and veterans' parade led by the Royal Marines Band, which will leave from Canoe Lake car park at 10.30am. On arrival at the D-Day Memorial, there will be a short service conducted by Reverend Canon Bob White, with a 2-minute silence and wreath-laying ceremony. Members of the public are welcome to attend and watch from the surrounding roads and esplanade. 

Free D-Day event in Hayling Island - Thursday, June 6

A free event is taking place at the Ferry Boat Inn & Johns Café from 11am and 10pm. To recognise Hayling’s involvement in D-Day at the site of the construction of 4 parts of the Mulberry Harbour, there will be a static display of wartime vehicles during the day.

In the evening the Royal Marine Association Concert Band will perform a programme of music including the full ceremony of Sunset and lowering of flags followed by music from the Last Night of the Proms as Hayling’s beacon is lit at 9.16pm. The Hayling Young Stars, 3rd Platoon Hayling Army cadets and Havant Air Cadets will be taking part. At some time during the day, to be confirmed and subject to the weather, a fly-past of three Spitfires from Biggin Hill will fly along Hayling seafront.

Visitors are advised to park in the council car parks at Beachlands. Where the City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport Depo will provide the former double decker Hayling Ferry bus free transport from outside the Beachlands council office to the ferry and back.

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Beacons - Thursday, June 6

A number of beacons will be lit across the county - including Portsmouth, Denmead and Hayling Island as part of more then 800 across the county to mark D-Day 80 with the first being lit in the historic dockyard. At 9.15pm a beacon will be lit at Southsea Castle to mark the bravery and sacrifice of those involved in D-Day.

Beacons will be lit on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of D-DayBeacons will be lit on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day
Beacons will be lit on June 6 to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day | South Tyneside Council

D-Day commemorations in Denmead - Thursday, June 6

Denmead residents will be gathering together to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a series of events - with the village one of the locations where soldiers camped before heading to Normandy.

Events are: 9am - Denmead Parish Council will raise the Flag of Peace at 9am on the village green; 10.45am - The council will also host the village schools, local associations and residents in a wreath laying service at 11am. The local schools will be reading the poems for schools D-Day Heroes; 9.15pm - The council will be lighting the lamp of peace at the village green memorial where the chairman of the council will read The Tribute.

New Theatre Royal events - Thursday, June 6

In honour of the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, on June 6 New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth will be showcasing a commemorative line-up of iconic films, culminating in an evening of singalong wartime songs paying tribute to the entertainers of the time.

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From 1932 to 1948 New Theatre Royal operated solely as a cinema, so to mark the important cultural and social role the venue played during World War II, there will be screenings of two classic war inspired films - Went The Day Well? at 11am and The Longest Day at 1.30pm.

The day will culminate with a special performance from vintage trio, The Silhouettes starting at 8pm. Known for their stunning vocal harmonies and playful choreography, the show will be an uplifting and respectful tribute to the music of the 1900s to the 1940s, featuring classics by icons of the era such as The Andrews Sisters, Vera Lynn, Billie Holiday and Gracie Fields.

Audiences are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the evening by dressing up and singing along. Portsmouth and Hampshire Lindy Hoppers are also invited to join in flash mob swing dancing in Guildhall Walk from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

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Armed Forces Day - Saturday, June 8

From a Royal Navy parachute jump to a full display from the Red Arrows, Southsea’s Armed Forces Day will be fuelled with various incredible sights. Taking place on June 8, this year's Armed Forces Day will be hosted on Southsea Common and will be free of charge to everyone.

The day is being organised by Portsmouth City Council and a full Red Arrows display across the Solent will be part of a packed Armed Forces Day. A Royal Navy parachute jump, military parades and vehicles, and live music will all be present throughout the day as well as funfair rides for children to enjoy.

There will also be a free climbing wall, laser tag and obstacle course will help keep children and adults entertained as well as arts and crafts. For more information about the event, click here.

D-Day at Daedalus - Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9

Former WWII airfield HMS Daedalus in Lee on the Solent - now known as Solent Airport, Daedalus - will host “an affordable family event for all to enjoy” featuring re-enactors, a parachute drop, music, field gun runs, marching bands, funfair, motorcycles stunts, period vehicles and an emporium. With a family ticket starting at £32, you can book and find out more about the event here.

Southwick Revival 2024 - Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9

Jacqueline and Nigel Coole with a BMW Roadster.Jacqueline and Nigel Coole with a BMW Roadster.
Jacqueline and Nigel Coole with a BMW Roadster.

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Southwick Revival 'Spirit of D-Day' is returning and will be marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day in its own unique style as the village reverts back to the 1940s, providing a nostalgic background and experiences of daily life in wartime Britain.

As well as military and vintage vehicles, there are 1940s school lessons, talks, re-enactors, guided walking tours, best-dressed competition, steam bus rides, vintage fair, a field gun competition, 1940s music, swing dancing, marching bands and more.

Tickets for the June 8 and 9 event costs: Adult General Entry: £10, £12 on gate; Under 16 General Entry: £7, £9 on gate; Under 5: Free of Charge; Family Ticket: £27 (valid for 2 adults, 3 children) not available on gate. For more details visit www.southwickrevival.co.uk where the full event programme is available.

Kings Theatre concert - Sunday, June 9

EastEnders star Emma Barton will perform at Kings Theatre’ D-Day 80 commemoration concert to raise funds for local veterans’ charities.

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The event takes place on June 9 from 5.30pm, bringing the curtain down on the city-wide D-Day commemorations. All profits will be donated to local charities that support veterans and their families in the city and surrounding areas.

Southsea Banksy

A Second World War themed mural has appeared on the Southsea seafront ahead of the highly anticipated 80th anniversary of D-Day next month.A Second World War themed mural has appeared on the Southsea seafront ahead of the highly anticipated 80th anniversary of D-Day next month.
A Second World War themed mural has appeared on the Southsea seafront ahead of the highly anticipated 80th anniversary of D-Day next month. | The News

A Second World War themed mural has appeared on the Southsea seafront ahead of the highly anticipated 80th anniversary of D-Day next month.

The painting, which depicts and man waving a hat accompanied by a dog with a poppy in its mouth, is thought to have appeared over the weekend (May 10-11) and has been compared by some on social media to the work of mysterious street artist Banksy.

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Writing on social media, some local people have speculated that the figures represent Winston Churchill and a British Bulldog “waving farewell to the troops on D-Day”.

The artwork can be seen on the wall of the shelter adjacent to Southsea Beach Cafe and the Indian Food Hut.

D-Day: A Portsmouth Story at Fort Nelson - throughout the rest of the year

D-Day: A Portsmouth Story is an exhibition which features the planning of Operation Overlord through to the events of D-Day and the quiet days afterwards in Portsmouth.

The people’s voices will be accompanied by images from The News, The Imperial War Museum and first-hand accounts from the D-Day Story and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The free to visit exhibition will run until the end of the year.

Fort Nelson is free to enter but prebooking is advised.

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