Normandy’s 1100th birthday: how to celebrate

In honor of the birth of Normandy, over 200 events are being held through October of this year, ranging from medieval fairs to concerts to special exhibitions. Normandy’s rich history can be traced back to the late 8th century, since the reign of Charlemagne. Visiting the area this year? Check out these events:

1000 Years of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives
Through October. In celebration of the millennium of the abbey of Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives, a selection of medieval-themed events, concerts, exhibitions, carnivals and more will be held throughout the year. On July 22 and 23, a light-and-sound spectacle will be projected to reflect the history of the Vikings and the abbey.
Deauville’s “From City to City” Exhibition
The city of Deauville will host an outdoor exhibition, featuring contemporary art installations and cultural games. Every major city in Normandy (Rouen, Le Havre, Evreux, Saint-Lo, Cherbourg and Alencon) will be represented through installations in the form of large, varied-colors cubes displayed around the town, each of which will have its own unique text and image that will symbolize a Norman city. A guided tour will be available to explore this original display of art and heritage.

Discovery Trail of Caen
Families are invited to follow a historic path in Caen from the Chateau du Duc Roi to the historical center of town, following a booklet to explore the rich heritage and history of the city.

Exhibition of the Normandy Abbeys
This exhibit on the abbeys of Normandy will display the evolution of 35 abbeys from 841 to 1204, presenting their unique history through a display of chronological panels. They will illustrate the influence of the Vikings, who once pillaged the Normandy abbeys, while also showcasing architectural changes and the destruction and reconstruction of Monasteries. This will be on display through October.

Eat Well in Normandy

To honor traditional Norman cuisine around the region, the IRQUA Normandie (Institut Régional de la Qualité Agroalimentaire de Normandy) is organizing restaurants to create special menus for the anniversary of Normandy. The menus will include local products from the region, featuring traditional recipes, classic medieval dishes, as well as new innovative creations. A cookbook will also be available that will include some of the recipes that the restaurants use.

Ornavik Medieval Town
The newly-constructed Medieval town of Ornavik will soon open its doors to the public, bringing historic Normandy back to life through a village recreating Viking life in 911. Situated on the Orne Bank in Beauregard park in Herouville-Saint-Clair near Caen, the village will include farms with animals and produce, as well as a chateau built from materials widely used in the Middle Age. The town aims to take visitors back in time to understand Viking life and culture, as well as see the towns that were destroyed during combat.

Land of the Vikings Festival
June 2 – 5. A festival of medieval activities honoring the birth of Normandy and Viking life, including events and activities that reflect an ancient Viking village, including a medieval market, artisans, and boat rides. There will also be equestrian events, combats, tournaments, medieval games, and more.

Rendez-vous in the Gardens of Normandy
June 3 – 5. Nearly 100 parks and gardens throughout Normandy will be showcasing the unique flowers of the region. Gardeners will be present at the gardens to explain their flowering techniques, while workshops, exhibitions, concerts and more will also be hosted.

Bayeux Medieval Festival
July 1 – 3. A three-day festival celebrating Medieval Normandy, which will commence with a vibrant medieval-themed nighttime parade including historical reenactments of Viking life. The festival will welcome actors dressed in authentic costumes, musicians, artisans, combats and more.

Normandy Day Picnic and Folk Concert
June 6. In celebration of the 5th annual Normandy Day, a giant picnic in the park outside of Town Hall will take place after a free performance from the group.

Exhibition on the Rollon Tapestry
Rouen: June 17 – July 27 Villers-Sur-Mer: July 29 – September 7 Saint-Clair-sur-Epte: September 9 – 11 Bayeux: September 16 – 18 In honor of Normandy’s birthday and the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Claire-Sur-Epte, a group of interdisciplinary artists have created a tapestry in honor of the Tapestry of Bayeux, an embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. While the Bayeux Tapestry can be seen at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, this new tapestry will be exhibited around Normandy from June until September. The tapestry, spanning nearly 70 feet long and 20 inches tall, was embroidered entirely by hand, and includes designs of 30 different historic scenes, commentaries written by a Viking specialist, and a written history of the birth of Normandy. Each exposition will be accompanied by conferences, story-telling, educational workshops and demonstrations of the embroidery.

More events and festivals are available here.