Anzac Day Travel Deals

by Jessica

January 27th, 2011

While Anzac Day is a national holiday in both Australia and New Zealand, a day to honor all those who fought in Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I, there are commemoration services in several other places as well.

This means you can either travel to Anzac Day services within Australia and New Zealand or you can pick from a host of other locations in which to mark the day.

Anzac Day falls on April 25 every year, and is a national public holiday in Australia and New Zealand. The remembrance services typically involve dawn ceremonies and parades. Below, you’ll find some suggestions on places to go for Anzac Day as well as tips to get cheap flights to wherever you plan to visit.

>> In 2012, Anzac Day is on a Wednesday.

Where to Go for Anzac Day

Australia – Dawn services are held throughout Australia on 25 April, with the largest ones being in the bigger cities, and are usually followed by parades. The Australian War Memorial is a particularly poignant place to mark the day. There is an Australian rules football game every year on Anzac Day between Collingwood and Essendon in Melbourne, and a rugby test match between Australia and New Zealand in honor of Anzac day (although usually played a week or so away from the actual date). Anzac Day is the only day each year when the game of two-up, a betting game popular with WWI soldiers, is legal to play in Australia.

New Zealand – As is the case in Australia, dawn services are held in various cities throughout New Zealand, followed by parades. Shops and businesses may be open on Anzac Day, but they’re not allowed to open before 1pm. There was also a law passed that prevents the holiday from being moved if April 25th falls on a weekend, so it’s always April 25th in New Zealand regardless of the day of the week that falls on. New Zealanders wear red paper poppies to mark Anzac Day, as poppies are worn in other Commonwealth countries on Remembrance Sunday.

Gallipoli, Turkey – Dawn services are held each year at what is now called Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, and while that’s certainly the point of any Anzac Day trip to Turkey it’s also a popular time for people to visit other sights in the country either before or after the 25th of April. There are package tours offered of varying lengths of time, primarily geared toward traveling Aussies but obviously open to anyone.

Papua New Guinea – In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, there is a large cemetery of Australian and New Zealand service members who were killed during World War II, so that’s where the Anzac Day dawn service takes place.

London, England – There are two places in London where dawn services for Anzac Day can be held. The two options are the Australian War Memorial and the New Zealand War Memorial, and they’re both at Hyde Park Corner, so it’s pretty easy to find the service once you get there. There’s also a parade at Whitehall where a wreath is laid each year.

Villers-Bretonneux, France – There are a couple of towns in France that mark Anzac Day, but Villers-Bretonneux has perhaps the closest ties to the day. The town was liberated by Anzac troops on April 25, 1918. There’s a dawn service at the town’s Australian National Monument, located just outside the town itself.

Los Angeles, California, USA – Because the largest group of Australian and New Zealand expats lives in and around Los Angeles, that’s the site of the largest Anzac Day commemoration in the U.S. There are services each year at the National Cemetery in Westwood. Other cities in the U.S. also host Anzac Day services, including New York, Washington D.C., and Hawaii.

Finding Cheap Airfare for Anzac Day

Getting a good deal on airfare to travel for Anzac Day depends on where you want to go. If you’re headed for Australia or New Zealand, April can be a lovely month to visit. It’s the middle of autumn, so the weather might lean more toward cool or damp conditions as you go further south, but in the north the temperatures will no longer be as hot as they get in the summer. What this mean is that while April in Australia and New Zealand is great for visitors, it isn’t always easy to find great deals on airfare.

If you’re planning to go to Turkey, April is the middle of spring. You could face a bit more rain, but it might also be perfectly lovely, and it’s not yet too hot to be comfortable. It’s very much the shoulder season for travel to Turkey, which means airfare prices won’t be as high as they can get – but they also won’t be dirt cheap, either.

Regardless of where you’re going for Anzac Day, here are a couple tips to keep in mind to help you find cheap flights:

  • Be Flexible – Don’t limit yourself to specific travel dates too early in the search process. Fares fluctuate during each week, and by looking at only one day for your flights you’ll potentially miss out on a much lower fare a few days before or after your chosen date. Use the “my dates are flexible” button on search sites to find lower prices.
  • Know When Flights are Cheaper – It’s not written in stone, but Wednesday, Tuesday, and Saturday flights tend to be cheaper than other days of the week, while early morning flights (usually the earliest of the day) and late-night departures tend to be cheaper than other times of day. Start your search with those days and times in mind and you’re better able to zero in on cheap flights.

photo by dcysurfer/Dave Young

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