D-Day, which took place on 6 June 1944, was a pivotal World War II military operation that marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, known as Operation Overlord. The operation involved a massive amphibious assault by Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, France, and it was crucial in the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

The New Forest played a significant role in the preparations for D-Day. This area was used as a training ground for troops and a staging area for equipment. Soldiers practiced manoeuvres and planned strategies within the forest's expansive, secluded landscape. The New Forest's proximity to the south coast of England, with main ports in Southampton and Portsmouth, made it an ideal location for gathering and organising forces before they were transported across the English Channel to Normandy. This connection highlights the importance of various locations in England, like the New Forest, in the success of operations such as D-Day.

Hurst Castle exterior on the New Forest coastImage - Hurst Castle

With such a close connection to this significant event, there are many celebrations taking place on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day on 6 June 2024. Here’s details on some events to get involved in on the day and the weeks around D-Day in the New Forest…

Across the New Forest, the ambition is to have 80 events for the 80th anniversary. Curated by St Barbe Museum, there will be an exhibition taking place in Sway Youth Centre from 3-14 June. There will also be a D-Day Talk at Sway Village Hall on Tuesday 4 June, as well as a showing of The Longest Day on Friday 7 June at Sway Cinema.

Other Culture in Common events include, a fly-past of the Hurricane Spitfire at Palais Des Vaches on Tuesday 4 June at around 8.50am, D-Day Afternoon Tea & Goodnight Sweethearts at Fawley Jubilee Hall on Thursday 6 June from 2.30pm – 4.30pm, Discovery Bus D-Day 80 Touring Exhibition at Copythorne Parish Hall on Thursday 6 June from 7.30pm – 9.30pm, and so much more.

Local bundle photograph - Lepe BeachImage - Lepe Country Park

Ringwood are hosting lots of celebrations in their town. From the Flag raising in the Gateway Square on Thursday 6 June at 9am, to the Beacon of Light on 6 June from 9pm in the War Memorial Gardens, as well as Wreath laying during the daytime in the Memorial Gardens on 6 June. Local fish and chip shop takeaways and restaurants will be serving up this great British tradition, as well as fundraising for the Ringwood Veteran’s Hub.

Become a D-Day Hero at Hurst Castle, from Saturday 25 May to Sunday 9 June! Your map plotting skills will be tested, as visitors find letters around the castle in a Battleship-style ‘HIT OR MISS’ activity trail, once the trail is completed you will win a reward! Learn a little about the history of the D-Day landings on a fun day out at the wonderful Hurst Castle.

Visit Lepe Country Park on Saturday 8 June for a day full of fun on their clifftop! Enjoy live music from New Forest Brass Band, Marchwood Military Wives and the Jingle Ladies, look around Military vehicles and wander local stalls. There will also be lots of crafts and games, too. Bring a picnic, or grab some food from The Lookout at Lepe.


Around D-Day, the 12 New Forest Airfields became some of the busiest airfields in the UK. This historic event will be commemorated with a short service at the New Forest Airfields Memorial in Bransgore on Saturday 8 June at 2pm, attended by local and national dignitaries and representatives from various Airforces that took part and veterans associations.  

Steamship Sheildhall will be marking the D-Day weekend of 8 and 9 June, with sailings to Lepe and the New Forest Coast and Portsmouth Harbour respectively. The Shieldhall Padre, Dennis Mould, will be present on both sailings, conducting a service of remembrance, whilst a commentary will reflect further on the important role played by Southampton and Portsmouth as major embarkation ports. The New Forest Coast cruise will be taking place on Saturday 8 June from 2pm – 6pm and will cruising to Lepe.SteamshipImage - Steamship Shieldhall