Anzac Day, April 25, is the busiest day of the year on the peninsula. Up to 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders arrive to commemorate the Allied defeat. During the preceding days, Eceabat and Çanakkale fill with visitors: tours can be organized locally or through travel agents in İstanbul, while all UK-based overland companies include Anzac Day in their itineraries.
The day begins with the 5.30am Dawn Service at Anzac Cove. Most visitors show up much earlier to camp out, as the police close all roads around the grave sites to traffic from 3am, and earlier for anniversary years. The service used to be relatively informal, but these days antipodean diplomats and government ministers attend, and the ceremony features official speeches, prayers and a member of the Australian or New Zealand forces playing a poignant “Last Post” at sunrise. An hour’s breakfast break follows before the morning’s ceremonies resume – wreath-laying at the British, French and Turkish memorials, and more services at the Australian memorial at Lone Pine and New Zealand memorial at Chunuk Bair.
For most visitors, being at Gallipoli on Anzac Day is a solemn affair – many come to commemorate ancestors who lost their lives. Alcohol is strictly banned at the Dawn Service – and indeed, year-round at all the cemeteries and memorials.