How to commemorate Anzac Day in 2021

Lest We Forget sign

Clare Barry

Posted April 19, 2021

Seven ways to commemorate Anzac Day this year.

After last year’s lockdown restrictions cancelled Anzac Day services for the first time in more than a century, Victorians will find a low-key, local and not-quite-normal take on commemorations this Sunday.

In the interests of COVID safety, people are being encouraged to mark the occasion in their own neighbourhood with driveway and front-yard dawn services, or to attend local Anzac Day services and marches run by RSLs throughout the state. 

Melbourne’s Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance and Anzac Day march will both go ahead, but with a restricted number of participants. Spectators are encouraged to watch from home via livestream. Almost 30 RACV staff and member volunteers will transport veterans on the day – continuing a tradition that dates back to World War I when RACV members met hospital ships docking at Station Pier, transporting more than 93,000 returning soldiers and nurses to hospital or military barracks.

This Sunday, pubs and other licensed venues will be allowed to serve alcohol from noon, and RSL clubs and sub-branches can host two-up games. But think twice before over-indulging because Victorians won’t get the day off on Monday. We’ll be back to work and school, along with New South Wales and Tasmania, while all the other states and territories enjoy a public holiday.

Candles glowing in the darkness of morning

A selection of candles glowing in the dark to celebrate ANZAC Day.

How to commemorate Anzac Day in 2021 

Register to attend the Dawn Service or Anzac Day march 

The Dawn Service at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance will go ahead with up to 1400 attendees only, while a maximum of 8000 veterans (plus 500 support people) will be allowed to march along St Kilda Road to the Shrine. To attend the 5.40am Dawn Service you must register via the Shrine of Remembrance website. Tickets are free and limited to two per booking.

To take part in the march you can register via the RSL Victoria website or by calling 9655 5555 – registrations are open until midnight on Saturday 24 April. Veterans are encouraged to pre-register but unregistered marchers can also sign in on Anzac Day with a QR code. Priority will be given to Australian and New Zealand veterans (current and ex-service members of the Defence Force), followed by allied forces and then descendants. The march will begin at 9.30am near the Arts Centre. 

Watch the Dawn Service or Anzac Day march from home 

Victorians are encouraged to mark the day locally, and you can’t get any more local than your couch. You can livestream the Dawn Service from the Shrine of Remembrance on the Shrine’s website from 5.40am, or watch the broadcast on ABC TV. The march will begin at 9.30am and will be livestreamed on RSL Victoria’s website and broadcast on ABC TV. Spectators can watch the march on site, but RSL Victoria is not encouraging this. 

Light up the Dawn 

The national RSL-endorsed Light Up the Dawn campaign – born during last year’s national lockdown – calls on Australians to commemorate our veterans at a local cenotaph Dawn Service or to step outside into your driveway, front yard or balcony to observe a minute’s silence at 6am. You might like to light a candle, carry a torch or ‘plant’ fabric Anzac poppies in the garden. You can also pay tribute to veterans and current personnel on social media using #lightupthedawn 

Attend a local service 

Hundreds of local Anzac Day activities, including dawn services, marches and commemorative services, are being organised by RSL sub-branches across the state. Search RSL Victoria’s Anzac Day listings to find out what’s happening close to home and when. 

Take part in the Last Post Project

Launched for last year’s socially distanced commemorations, the Last Post Project makes a return this year, inviting musicians throughout the country to play the Last Post together – but separately – in their driveways at dawn on Anzac Day. Individuals, groups, bands and schools playing any instrument are welcome. Register to get a personalised sponsorship page (money raised will be donated to veterans charities), plus access to workshops and resources. Not musical? You can sponsor a musician or run your own dawn service – the Last Post Project can provide a recording of the Last Post.  

Donate to the Anzac Appeal 

Many veterans have done it especially tough during the pandemic, and you can support them through the Anzac Appeal online or in person by buying a commemorative poppy or badge from an RSL volunteer. Some volunteer sellers are going cashless this year so supporters can tap-and-go their donation. 

Tune into a tribute concert 

The late Michael Gudinski’s brainchild concert Music from the Home Front, launched in the thick of last year’s lockdown, returns in 2021 with the likes of Tash Sultana, Vance Joy, Lime Cordiale and Bliss N Eso taking to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl stage on Anzac Day Eve. The live acts will be interspersed with streamed performances from Jimmy Barnes, You Am I, Ben Lee and Tina Arena, among others. You can join the socially distanced audience in person (tickets from $99) or watch the broadcast live on Nine TV.