CW has rounded up the list of ACT public holidays, school terms and Daylight Saving Time (DST) dates in 2021 so you don’t have to. If you haven’t already done so, mark them in your diaries now for ready reference.
Canberrans celebrate two public holidays that are unique to the ACT – Canberra Day in March and Reconciliation Day in May/June.
New Year’s Day – Friday 1 January. This date is also Federation Day, the day in 1901 when the six British self-governing colonies – Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, SA and WA – united to form the Commonwealth of Australia. But this milestone is largely overshadowed by New Year celebrations.
Australia Day – Tuesday 26 January. Also known as Invasion Day and Survival Day. It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.
Canberra Day (ACT only) – Monday 8 March. Held annually on the second Monday in March to celebrate the official naming of Canberra at a ceremony on 12 March 1913 by Lady Denman, wife of the then Governor-General Lord Denman.
Good Friday – Friday 2 April. Observed by Christians around the world as the day Jesus Christ died on the cross.
Easter Monday – Monday 5 April. A public holiday following Easter Sunday. Because who doesn’t love a four-day weekend.
Anzac Day public holiday – Sunday 25 and Monday 26 April. As Anzac Day (25 April) falls on a Sunday this year, a public holiday will be observed on both the Sunday and Monday in the ACT.
Reconciliation Day (ACT only) – Monday 31 May. Since 2018, the ACT has marked the first Monday on or after 27 May as Reconciliation Day (replacing the Family and Community Day public holiday that was held until 2017). Reconciliation Day marks the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census. It also marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week. As at 2021, the ACT remains the only jurisdiction in Australia to observe a Reconciliation Day public holiday.
Queen’s Birthday – Monday 14 June. Although Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926, all Australian states and territories except WA observe the Queen’s Birthday public holiday on the second Monday in June.
Labour Day – Monday 4 October. This public holiday commemorates the granting of the eight-hour working day for Australians, first regulated in NSW in 1856. In ACT, NSW and SA, Labour Day takes place on the first Monday in October. Other jurisdictions observe different dates to acknowledge the eight-hour day.
Christmas Day public holiday – Monday 27 December. In 2021, Christmas Day (25 December) falls on a Saturday so the public holiday is observed on the following Monday.
Boxing Day public holiday – Tuesday 28 December. As 26 December falls on a Sunday and Monday 27 December is a public holiday for Christmas Day, the Boxing Day public holiday moves to Tuesday. Traditionally, Boxing Day in Great Britain and some Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, was a holiday on which servants, tradespeople, and the poor traditionally were presented with gifts and servants could go home to their families. By the 21st century, it had become a day associated with shopping and sporting events (e.g. Boxing Day sales, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and Boxing Day Test).
If you’re planning holidays either to coincide with or to avoid ACT public school holidays, here’s a handy list of term dates..
Term 1 begins Monday 1 February for new students; continuing students return to school on Tuesday 2 February.
Term 1 ends Thursday 1 April, the day before Good Friday and the Easter long weekend.
Term 2 begins Monday 19 April.
Term 2 ends Friday 25 June.
Term 3 begins Monday 12 July.
Term 3 ends Friday 17 September.
Term 4 begins Tuesday 5 October, the day after the Labour Day public holiday, Monday 4 October.
Term 4 ends Friday 17 December.
Please note, dates may differ for Independent and Catholic schools and the Term 4 end date could be earlier for ACT public secondary school students
Daylight Saving Time
In the ACT, Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on Sunday 4 April at 3am when the clock turns back one hour to 2am. So, this year we get to enjoy an extra hour on Easter Sunday!
DST starts on Sunday 3 October at 2am when we’ll move the clocks forward one hour to 3am. Thankfully in the ACT we have the Labour Day public holiday on Monday 4 October to help us adjust before heading back to work or back to school for Term 4.
The ACT, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and SA all observe DST, while Queensland, NT and WA do not.
A handy mnemonic for remembering which way to turn the clock is: Spring forward, fall back.