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Talking about special occasions in the IELTS speaking test

It is common in the IELTS speaking test to be asked to talk about special days or celebrations, so here are some model answers that will give you a guideline for a good result. The list below is based on special days or celebrations in New Zealand, but this is where we’d love your help – if you post a paragraph below about a special day or celebration in your country, we will read it, make any changes if required to the grammar or structure and post it on this page.

ANZAC Day (New Zealand and Australia)

Well, it’s a special day but it’s not really a celebration – it’s more of a ceremony. Anyway, it’s in late April, on the 25th. It’s the same day in both Australia and New Zealand. It starts early in the morning when all the ex-service people walk to the nearest war memorial. They often wear all their old medals and their best suits. It can look really impressive.

LABOUR DAY (New Zealand)

Talking about special days and celebrationsThis holiday was first celebrated in 1890, but wasn’t officially recognised until 1900. It marked the beginning of new conditions for employees – working hours were reduced, unions were formed and working conditions slowly improved. People don’t really do anything special to celebrate the day, but it gives you time to think about how hard life must have been then.

WAITANGI DAY (New Zealand)

It’s one of the most controversial public holidays in New Zealand. It commemorates the time when the British government signed a treaty with most of the Maori chiefs over 150 years ago. I don’t know much about it but I do know that a lot of people still argue about it. Actually, in the 1970s it became known as New Zealand Day but soon changed back to its original name.

CHRISTMAS DAY (New Zealand and many other countries)

Version 1:

In New Zealand, the most important holiday is probably Christmas. It’s the time of the year when families try to get together, or at least send cards to say hello. On Christmas Day a lot of people have barbecues, either on the beach or in their gardens. Most places are closed for the day, and most people have their longest holiday of the year around this time. Office workers, for example, often don’t go back to work until the beginning of the New Year.

Version 2 (thanks Muyiwa!):

My favorite special day is Christmas, which is on the 25th of December every year. I love this day for a whole lot of reasons. Firstly, I don’t have to go to work but I still get get paid!! Also, I live in a very busy city but by Christmas day most people have traveled out of town, thereby reducing traffic by over 90%. This in turn makes driving around town on a day like this so much more enjoyable, especially as I get to do a lot of visiting. Not only is it easy to get to where I’m going, but there is always lots of exotic food in my friends and family houses.

BIRTHDAYS (Almost everywhere on the planet!)

Well, people in New Zealand, as in most Western countries, like to celebrate birthdays, but often only for younger people. Once you start getting older you don’t want to be reminded of another passing year! Anyway, a lot of people go out to the pub, or stay at home and have a party. Sometimes a surprise party is organised. People send cards for your birthday, but normally just close friends or family give gifts. It’s common to have a birthday cake with a candle for every year – you have to blow the candles out in one breath if you want to make a wish!

Talking about special occasions in the IELTS

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