William the Conqueror Major Events and Medieval Fairs

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    William the Conqueror Major Events and Medieval Fairs 2016

    bayeux medieval festival
    Sylvain Guichard/Ville de Bayeux

    Major Events 

    The commemoration of the Battle of Hastings 1066 takes place through 2016, with festivals, events and exhibitions in both Normandy in France and the UK. Most of the events will be in July and August; October is the time for events in the UK, commemorating the actual battle on October 14th, 1066

    This list is not comprehensive and many events are still being planned, so if you’re visiting any of these destinations this year, check the tourist office website in advance.

    Most of the following events are free, although there are charges for entry to the châteaux and for special performances.

    June 25th & 26th
    Touques, just south of Deauville, Calvados
    Medieval Fair with demonstrations, a fair, music, street performers and a medieval inn where you can try medieval delicacies and drinks. 
    Touques is a pretty little town with old half-timbered houses. The château at nearby Bonneville-sur-Touques was used by the Dukes of Normandy as one of their principal residences.

    Tourist Office
    20 Place Lemercier
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 31 88 68 87

    June 26th to July 3rd
    Bayeux, Calvados
    Medieval Festival
    Over 50,000 visitors come to Bayeux for the annual medieval market and festival, the 3rd most important in France. The festival this year, usually over the first weekend in July, takes over the town for a week. 
    The medieval market around the cathedral has around 150 French and European exhibitors making and selling everything from jewellery to pottery. There’s a stonemasons workshop and entertainment from street performers throughout the festival plus a medieval book fair on the Place de Gaulle.

    Monday June 27th, 7.30pm: Opening show with open-air cinema, concerts, evening market, fire shows and exhibitions. 
    July 1st: Evening grand parade
    Sunday July 3rd, 9.30am: Mass in the Cathedral with all the chairs removed as in the Middle Ages.

    Discover more about Bayeux


    July 9th and 10th
    Château Ganne, La Pommeraye, Suisse Normande
    Medieval Fair
    Just a few kilometres west of Falaise, the château is rarely open to the public as it’s currently being excavated. So take this rare chance to see the 11th-12th century fortifications with medieval reconstructions of houses and shops, a market, and of course a banquet. 
    La Pommeraye is in the Suisse Normande, the tourist trail that follows the River Orne.

    Website de Château Ganne

    July 10th to 29th
    Crèvecoeur Castle, Crèvecoeur-en-Auge, Calvados
    Medieval Festival
    The annual medieval festival takes place in a setting which really does take you back over the centuries. Crèvecoeur Castle (not to be confused with the similarly named castle in Belgium), is a delightful collection of 10th and 11th-century buildings grouped inside the medieval fortified site and surrounded by a moat. 
    Great for families, there are demonstrations of country life and cooking, archery and crossbow skills which you can join. Or how about illumination? Every child loves those; or coin striking allied to forgery. 
    On Sundays July 10th and 17th, knights battle it out at the tournament. On Sunday July 24th there’s a ‘Criminal investigation in the Castle’ which is yet to be explained but will be great fun.

    July 31st to August 6th
    Medieval Reconstruction
    Costumed peasants, craftsmen, soldiers, knights, musicians and lords take you back to the past, to 1466.

    Information on the Castle and the Festival

    August 5th and 6th
    Castle of Creully, Creully, Calvados

    Medieval Festival
    The festival takes place in the feudal castle that was started in the 11th century. There will be various re-enactments plus nightly 90-minute sound and light shows in the castle grounds. And of course, there will be one of those great medieval banquets in the medieval tavern. Today a lot of the castle is left from the dim and distant past: the enclosure itself, 2 vaulted rooms from the 12th century, the 14th-century square tower and the 15th-century octagonal tower. The 17th century stables are set in the courtyard. 
    It’s best known to Brits as the place which the BBC took over in the crucial months from June to July 1944. From the square tower they broadcast information on the D-Day Landings.

    Château de Creully
    30 Place Edmond Paillaud
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 31 80 18 65

    August 6th and 7th
    Domfront, Orne
    Les Hastingales Medieval Festival
    Domfront has an imposing castle, a great setting for a weekend of derring-do knights who fight it out in the grounds. There are Norman and Saxon camps, a civilians’ camp, music and feasts on both evenings.

    Information on Domfront and the Festival

    August 4th to 9th
    Dives-sur-Mer, Cabourg and Houlgate
    William the Conqueror Festival
    Dives-sur-Mer is a delightful small seaside resort between Cabourg and Houlgate so the celebrations cover all three towns. 
    Longships and tall ships will gather in the Dives estuary where William originally sailed from. There are markets, stalls and craftsmen demonstrating and selling their wares in the streets of Dives. Make you way to the banks of the river for a glimpse of the cavalry camping there. Go a little further to Houlgate for a Viking camp where the stalwart raiders will build a longship.
    Sunday August 7th: Special mass in the church at Diver-sur-Mer with the Bishop of Bayeux.
    All these events are free. 
    Information on the 3 Festivals

    August 13th to 14th
    Falaise, Calvados
    Festival of Games
    250 soldiers of William the Conqueror’s army will fill Falaise and the castle where William spent much of his childhood. Watch equestrian feats, fighting and shows both in the castle grounds and in the streets of Falaise where you can stock up with medieval goods. Plenty of sound and fury and fun. 
    Information on Falaise and the Festival

    October 8th
    Argences, Calvados
    Medieval Banquet
    The important battle of Val-ès-Dunes took place around the villages of Argences, Vimont and Bourguébus in 1047. Go to the tourist office in Argences for a map to take you to the different sites. They’re putting on a medieval banquet following a church service.
    Information on the Events

    October to  December 2016
    Bayeux Cathedral will be covered huge images in a sound and light show telling the story of the building of the cathedral and William’s part.

    Bayeux-Bessin Tourist Office

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    More about Normandy and William the Conqueror

    bayeux medieval festival
    V. Meigne - Ville de Bayeux

    2016 is the year when Normandy and England commemorate 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, the great victory of William of Normandy over the English in October.

    Normandy and England are celebrating the commemoration with events, exhibitions and festivals taking over the main sites, cities and towns associated with the conquest.

    More about Normandy

    The Battle of Hastings and the William the Conqueror Story in the UK

    For more information on Normandy visit the Normandy Tourism website

    Getting to Normandy

    I travelled with Brittany Ferries, which has regular ferries between the UK and France. My outward bound trip was from Portsmouth to Caen; I returned from Le Havre to Portsmouth. 

    • As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary travel on Brittany Ferries for this trip. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy

    ​More about Travelling by Ferry to France

    Getting to Different Parts of Normandy

    London, the UK and Paris to Caen

    London, the UK and Paris to Rouen

    London, the UK and Paris to Le Havre

    London, the UK and Paris to Cherbourg

    Hotels and Accommodation in Normandy

    Hotels and Accommodation near the D-Day Landing Beaches

    La Ferme de la Ranconniere Hotel

    Bed and Breakfast with a World War II theme in Normandy