Dawn service, Gallipoli - www.visitedplanet.comHeard all about Anzac Day but haven't quite worked it out? Or need some good ideas for places to go this year? Well you've come to the right place!
Read on for the ultimate guide to what's going on in Australia, New Zealand and around the world on April 25th.

Anzac Day is possibly the biggest event on the calendar in Australia and New Zealand after the national holidays and commemorated seriously. But it's also a time to let your hair down and enjoy the freedom peace brings so make sure you celebrate wherever you're from.

What's in a name? | What happens on Anzac Day? | Where should I go?Does it matter if my country was not involved or fought against the Allies? | Enjoy yourself 

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Anzac Cove, Gallipoli - www.visitedplanet.comANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps and refers to WWI soldiers that fought in Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915.
As Aussies and Kiwis are won't to do--except when they meet on the sporting field--they band together when the chips are down. And they needed to because the losses were huge:

21,255 from the United Kingdom
10,000 from France
8,709 from Australia
2,721 from New Zealand
1,358 from British India.

Considering the population of Australia and also New Zealand at the time, these were enormous losses. Read more about it here.

ANZAC Day commemorates April 25th, the day the first soldiers landed on the shores of Anzac Cove (see picture above) in Gallipoli. It was the first military campaign Australia/NZ had waged as independent from the British Empire. Today it has been broadened to commemorate the lives of other servicemen and women that have been lost in military operations for the two countries.

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Flag bearers, Gallipoli -

Every major city and town--and we mean every--in Australia and New Zealand will have a parade, service or something going on down at the RSL (Returned Servicemens League).

A typical ANZAC Day includes:

* A dawn service (top image) - this is held at 4.54am to commemorate the moment Anzac soldiers landed at Gallipoli. If you can get up early for it, it's worth it. The service will include the last post, various hymns, readings, recitations, an address, laying of wreaths and so on.

* A parade - held through the main streets of the city/town with marching servicemen/women from all major offensives (including Vietnam War, Gulf War and others) and ending at the cenotaph (monument). Make sure you bring a flag to wave!

* A service mid morning for families and those that couldn't get out of bed earlier.

* RSL luncheons, barbecues, family gatherings, picnics, rugby matches, two-up and other events may be held throughout the day.

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Grave site, Gallipoli - www.visitedplanet.comCheck the local paper and news for details of services and parades near where you are. This link contains details of major Australian services. If you're overseas or wanting to go somewhere different consider  the following:

Gallipoli, Turkey
This is the actual location of the ANZAC campaign and remains a huge drawcard for British, French, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Turkish and other nationals. More than 15,000 people attend the dawn service - it's HUGE and you are guaranteed a completely memorable time.
What? The dawn service is held at North Beach and followed by other commemorative events at the Australian, Turkish and New Zealand memorials. Details are here. It is very cold on the peninsula at night and warm during the day so take layers and be prepared for very little sleep.
How? Given the distance involved in covering locations on the peninsula it is advised to go by a tour that will drop you off at all the services. Tours from Cannakale and Istanbul, including our own Fez Bus, will get you there.

Istanbul accommodation | Tours (for Anzac Day) | Tours (not for Anzac Day)

Bridge over the River Kwai - www.visitedplanet.comKanchanaburi, Thailand
Why? Australian and New Zealand prisoners of war in WWII and other Asian labourers were used to build the notorious Thai-Burma railway here. Many died in the construction and 7000 POWs of various nationalities are buried at Kanchanaburi.
What? In Kanchanaburi is the Bridge over the River Kwai (picture above) and the Allied War Cemetery where a Memorial Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony is held mid morning about 11am. However the most moving services are at Hellfire Pass about 80km beyond the town where a dawn service is held every year and a Gunshot Breakfast (coffee laced with rum) at the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum.
How? Kanchanaburi is 90 minutes by taxi, two hours by bus or five hours by train from Bangkok.

Bangkok accomodation | Tours (not for Anzac Day)

London, England
It is only fitting that huge services are held in England for the British lost more soldiers in the campaign than any other nation. There are many Australian, New Zealand and other nationals in London that attend this service every year.
What? Dawn services alternate between the Australian and New Zealand war memorials each year. There is also a parade and wreath laying at Whitehall. More details are here.
How? The services are held at Hyde Park Corner - accessible by bus, tube, taxi etc.

London accommodation | Tours (not for Anzac Day)
Villers-Bretonneaux, France
Why? This small town in rural France was liberated by Australian soldiers in WWI after a monumental battle and they've never forgotten it. There are 770 fallen Australians buried here and all over France you'll see Allied gravesites that are immaculately preserved in honour of the fallen.
What? The dawn service is held at 5.30am at the Australian National Memorial. At 8.30am there is a service in town and wreath laying at 12pm at the Australian Digger Memorial. More details are here.
How? Villers-Bretonneaux is 19km east of Amiens. The nearest VIP accommodation is in Paris.

Paris accommodation | Paris tours (not for Anzac Day)

There are many many ANZAC Day events going on around the world on April 25. See the wikipedia entry for some more ideas.

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Cenotaph in Dalby - www.visitedplanet.comNo! Anyone that attends ANZAC Day in a respectful mood is welcome to celebrate the fact WWI, WWII and other campaigns are over and that we can enjoy the freedom that brings.

This is particularly demonstrated in Turkey where the people are incredibly welcoming of anyone that comes to commemorate ANZAC Day, whatever side your country was on.

In our experience, people look for the opportunities to cast aside differences on days like this.

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Brisbane parade - www.visitedplanet.comANZAC Day services are solemn occasions and tears will be shed so bring a tissue or two! Parades are a lot more upbeat so bring your flag and wave with the crowd!

By no means is the entire day meant to be spent seriously! Once proceedings are over, officials often implore people to embrace the day that's ahead. If that means a public holiday then go for it - go to the beach, meet your friends, have a pint at the pub.

Enjoy the freedom of what ANZAC Day means.

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