Guernsey Celebrates 75th Anniversary of its Liberation with Heritage75
Major Island-Wide Festival Will Run from April to October 2020
Guernsey is marking the 75th anniversary in 2020 of its Liberation from German occupying forces with Heritage75, a major program of events and festivities.
From April to October, visitors to Guernsey and its sister islands of Herm, Sark, and Alderney will be able to join islanders and partake in one of 75 unique heritage-themed celebrations. From themed tours, guided walks, and exhibitions to outdoor and family-focused events, the rolling program of activity will enable visitors to discover and experience what life was like before, during and after the occupation.
The festivities will culminate on May 9th at the official Liberation Day anniversary, the islands’ much-lauded annual celebration of freedom. Focused on the capital’s St Peter Port seafront, a day-long schedule of events with parades, 1940s music, period costumes, and activities will ensure the jubilant atmosphere of liberation post the hardship of years of occupation is recreated for all to enjoy.
As well as bringing history alive with the personal anecdotes and artifacts of local experts, the Heritage75 events will also weave together the stories and landscapes of the island’s many parishes. All events and booking details will be featured on a regularly updated web microsite at https://www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75.
New, special events curated for Heritage75 include:
Unseen History Exhibition at the German Occupation Museum
April 1 to October 31, 10:00 – 16:30
The fascinating German Occupation Museum will showcase a series of events and talks as well as a fascinating and new ‘Unseen History’ exhibition. Curated specially for Heritage75, it will feature some unique and ‘never before seen’ pictures, an exclusive color film from the day that Guernsey was liberated in 1945 plus a ‘Liberation tearoom’, tableaux and models. Running throughout the Heritage75 period, admission is £6 for adults and £3 for children German Occupation Museum
The Story of the Occupation in Ten Objects
March 1 to October 31, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Sundays
A new display at the National Trust of Guernsey Folk and Costume Museum will be dedicated to ten items from clothing to transport that played a part in the lives of the people who found themselves living in such extraordinary circumstances during the occupation. Admission is £6 for adults and £2 for children. www.nationaltrust.gg
Make Do and Mend
Dates and times TBC
Also at the National Trust of Guernsey Folk and Costume Museum, a series of workshops and events will demonstrate how clothing and material were adapted to be re-used. All ages will be able to learn skills from the past that can be used today and discover how people adapted to changing circumstances. Admission is £6 for adults and £2 for children. Individual workshops priced separately and must be pre-booked www.nationaltrust.gg
The Bella’s Gin and Garden Party
11 April 2020
Guernsey’s ‘gin-hotel’, the Bella Luce, is home to a copper, small-batch distillery which produces ‘Wheadon’s Gin’ – a beloved local brand, named after the owners’ of the boutique hotel. In 1941, the property was confiscated by the Germans who turned it into a hub for telecommunications operations. So, as a nod to the Bella’s own history, and fuelled with a tale and tipple or two, the hotel’s beautiful gardens will host a special Gin Garden Party on 11 April 2020 with swing and jazz music along with period gin cocktails inspired by the 1940s. Pre-booking is required at https://bellalucehotel.com
Towers and Bunkers Sea Cruise
1 April to 30 September
Island Rib Voyages will lead a one-hour cruise following the German occupation of the island from a coastal perspective. Since most of the defenses built by the occupying German forces between 1940 and 1945 faced out to sea, this sea cruise offers some of the best viewpoints of the occupation legacy. Starting with the story of the bombing of the harbor, the cruise takes in a series of significant sights including Castle Cornet, the Brehon Tower, and Fort George before heading to Batterie Strassburg on the Jerbourg peninsula and visiting the site of the first commando landing of the war.
Continuing along the south coast with views of several rangefinder towers, including the formidable MP4 – perhaps the best-known structure on the Atlantic Wall – the tour returns to St Peter Port. Prices from £29.50 per adult and £19.50 per child. Pre-booking required at https://islandribvoyages.com
Unseen History Exhibition at the German Occupation Museum
April 1 to October 31, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The fascinating German Occupation Museum will showcase a series of events and talks as well as a fascinating and new ‘Unseen History’ exhibition. Curated specially for Heritage75, it will feature some unique and ‘never before seen’ pictures, an exclusive colour film from the day that Guernsey was liberated in 1945 plus a ‘Liberation tearoom’, tableaux and models. Running throughout the Heritage75 period, admission is £6 for adults and £3 for children German Occupation Museum.
Unsung Heroes Talk at German Occupation Museum
May 4,11,18 and 25,4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
After absorbing the ‘Unseen History’ exhibition, visitors can join Richard Heaume, owner of the German Occupation Museum and a mastermind when it comes to Guernsey’s wartime history, and listen to his stories of the unsung heroes of WWII. Instrumental individuals who were never acknowledged for their work, recognised or honoured during the occupation will be the focus of Richard’s informative discussion. The talk is free, although normal admission fees apply (£6 for adults and £3 for children) German Occupation Museum
Occupation of the Vale
x May 08-11, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The wartime memories of the Vale – Guernsey’s most northerly parish – are brought to life in a ‘walking exhibition’ developed by local tour guide and Vale parishioner Victoria Robinson. Over the course of six hours, the free trail sheds light on the stories, the remarkable heroes and heroines as well as the everyday lives of the Vale parishioners. No booking required.
Guernsey Classic Vehicle Show
May 07, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
An impressive range of vintage, classic, modern cars, motorcycles and military vehicles from the 1940s (and other eras) will be on display at this annual show. Perfect for families, petrol heads or history buffs as there will be plenty to learn from the vehicle owners who are dedicated to restoring and preserving them.
Entry to the showground is free www.gcvc.org.gg
A Quiet War: Talk and Book Signing with local author Fred Gallienne
Dates and times TBC
Local tour guide and author Fred Gallienne, a quintessential Guernseyman, lived in Guernsey throughout the German Occupation. Fred’s book ‘A Quiet War’ retells his childhood memories and signed copies can be purchased following his talk which will be held at Castle Cornet. Talk is free although normal admission fees apply to Castle Cornet (£10.50 for adults and £3 for children).
Guernsey Clematis Nursery Open Evening
September 9 6:00 –7:30 p.m.
Following WWII, the islanders of Guernsey had to rebuild their lives and by the 1960s, the horticulture industry was booming. One of the horticultural stars of the post war years, the clematis, is a much loved island export with more than two million produced at the Clematis Nursery alone. As part of the Heritage 75 celebrations, Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner, Raymond Evison’s will open his beloved nursery to the public and host at talk and tour of his famous Clematis Nursery. He’ll explain the history of this beautiful flower and the intricacies of its production and why it’s one of Guernsey’s biggest exports. Cost is £9.50 per person and
£7.50 for RHS members. Places are limited to 25 participants, so must be pre-booked https://www.raymondevisonclematis.com/
A full list of events and activities is available at https://www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75.