Especially important to Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day is an annual day of remembrance. Here, we’ve put together a list of 10 FAQ to help you understand the meaning behind Anzac Day and how it’s celebrated.
If you’re thinking about visiting some of the Anzac Day celebrations being held around the world this year, keep in mind that you can still book hostels in Sydney, hostels in Auckland, hostels in London and more. If you'd like to join one of the groups visiting the Gallipoli area and the Anzac Day 2011 services, you can book tours in Istanbul.
1. When is Anzac Day?
Anzac Day is a day of remembrance held annually on April 25th.
2. What does ANZAC stand for?
ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
3. Why is Anzac Day important?
Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major action of WWI in which Australia and New Zealand took part. On April 25th 1915, Allied forces including Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey where they fought soldiers from the Ottoman Empire. Both sides suffered huge casualties and the Allied Forces were eventually forced to withdraw from Gallipoli. Anzac Day doesn’t commemorate a victory; instead it remembers the ANZAC soldiers who fought and died during the campaign. It marks an important point in the histories of both Australia and New Zealand and is seen as a defining event in terms of the national identities of these countries.
4. What countries commemorate Anzac Day? Are there any special traditions associated with Anzac Day?
Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga all observe Anzac Day. Major celebrations also take place in London as the city is home to a huge number of Australian and NZ expats. Lots of people make the trip to Gallipoli in Turkey where the anniversary is marked with a number of different events. Solemn ceremonies held at war memorials throughout Australia and New Zealand are the hallmark of Anzac Day, with many of these taking place at dawn. Red poppies, which have long been used as a symbol of remembrance, are also worn on the day.
5. What happens in Sydney on Anzac Day?
Anzac Day in Sydney begins with a dawn service at the Cenotaph – a cenotaph is a monument dedicated to deceased people whose remains are in another location – on Martin Place in the city’s CBD. Following this 4.15am service, a wreath laying ceremony is held. Sydney’s Anzac Day March begins at 9am and features veterans, service men and women, marching bands and more. The parade begins at the intersection of Martin Place and Pitt Street before moving along George Street into Bathurst Street and finishing up at Hyde Park. This large park is one of the top attractions in Sydney and is a beautiful setting for the Anzac Memorial which takes place after the march. Another important event happening in Sydney on Anzac Day is the Redfern Anzac Day Street March which honours Aboriginal soldiers. This march begins at 1pm and moves from the war memorial in Redfern Park to the Redfern Community Centre on Hugo Street. Back in the CBD, the Cenotaph hosts a sunset service to mark the end of Anzac Day.
6. How do people celebrate Anzac Day in Wellington?
Wellington, which is New Zealand’s capital city, commemorates Anzac Day with a variety of different events. These begin at 5.45pm with a dawn service lasting 30 minutes at the Cenotaph on Lambton Quay near the Wellington Parliament. From there, the focus moves to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Thorndon neighbourhoods. Located on the corner of Molesworth and Hill Streets, this impressive Anglican cathedral hosts a Citizen’s Service of Commemoration beginning at 9.35am. The National War Memorial, which you’ll find on Buckle Street in Mount Cook, also features heavily in Wellington’s Anzac Day celebrations. One of the most prominent landmarks in Wellington, this memorial boasts a 50-foot high Carillion which houses a collection of some 74 different bells. On Anzac Day a vigil lasting from dawn until dusk is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. Plenty of other events take place here throughout the day from a wreath laying ceremony at 10.30am to free talks. Over in the suburb of Karori, the Wrights Hill Fortress also has a number of different things planned for Anzac Day. On April 25th, it’s open from 10am to 4pm and admission is $5. Here you can learn about New Zealand’s wartime history, check out a photo exhibits, go on walks and more. In the evening, an Anzac Day tribute concert is held at Wellington Town Hall on Wakefield Street. Starting at 7pm, it features swing music and dancing. Tickets cose $5 (plus booking fee).
7. Are there any events in Melbourne on Anzac Day?
The Shrine of Remembrance, which is one of the top Melbourne attractions, is the biggest and most visited war memorial in the Australian state of Victoria. This hugely important Melbourne landmark hosts a dawn service at 6am on Anzac Day, which is followed by breakfast and a wreath laying ceremony. Melbourne’s Anzac Day parade begins at 9am at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets. From there, the march moves along St. Kilda Road towards the Shrine of Remembrance. Once the parade is over, a Commemoration Ceremony is held at the Shrine at 1pm. On top of that, April 25th sees the annual Anzac Day clash take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Melbourne is the home of Aussie rules football and this is one of the biggest matches on the AFL calendar.
8. Does anything happen in Auckland to commemorate the day?
There are lots of events in New Zealand’s largest city on Anzac Day, many of which are centred on the Auckland Museum, one of the top things to do in Auckland. Located in the Domain, which is Auckland’s biggest park, this museum is also known as the Auckland War Memorial Museum. On Anzac Day, a 6am commemorative service is held at the museum’s Cenotaph with plenty of other events taking place throughout the day. These include performances by the Auckland Youth Choir at 7.30am and 9.30am, and a civic service at the Cenotaph at 11am. Visitors can sign a digital book of remembrance throughout the day and the museum is offering free guided tours of its war memorial galleries hourly from 7.30am to 3.30pm.
9. Is Anzac Day also celebrated in London?
It is; many events take place in London on Anzac Day as the city is home to a huge number of expats from Australia and New Zealand. A dawn service takes place at 5am in Hyde Park Corner at the Australian War Memorial, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the NZ War Memorial. The Cenotaph in Whitehall, which is one of the many significant landmarks in London, hosts a parade and wreath laying ceremony at 8am. You don’t need tickets to attend this event but you should carry photo ID with you as security checks are in force on the day. Westminster Abbey, one of the top attractions in London, holds an Anzac Day commemorative service at 9am. If you’re interested in attending, tickets are available here.
10. What happens in Gallipoli itself?
Numerous events take place around the Gallipoli Peninsula for Anzac Day and these are organised by Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and France. This year memorials are taking place on both Sunday, April 24th and Monday, April 25th. On Sunday, Turkish, French and Commonwealth services will be held at different locations within the Anzac Commemorative Site. Anzac Day itself sees a dawn service taking place at North Beach at 5.30am, with many other events happening throughout the day. Visitors can also pay their respects at the numerous monuments and memorials found all around the area. The Anzac Commemorative Site is located within a national park which doesn't offer any accommodation options so many people choose to visit as part of a tour group. If you’re interested in joining one of these trips, you can book tours in Istanbul including visits to the Gallipoli area and the Anzac Day 2011 services.
Without a doubt, Anzac Day is a hugely important event for the people of Australia and New Zealand. If you’re planning to check out any Anzac Day celebrations, remember you can still book hostels in Sydney, hostels in Auckland, hostels in London and more.