IstanbulThings to Do

Festivals in Istanbul

There are a host of annual festivals in Istanbul which attract tourists from all around the world. From themes of jazz and dance to film, theatre. and puppets, there are a variety of festivals to suit every taste, as well as every month of the year.

The Tulip Festival and Chill-Out Festival have large followings, while the Coffee Festival and Gastronomy Festival are great ways to celebrate the unique food and drink of Istanbul.

International Jazz Festival

Jazz and Europe can’t be separated like a couple vowing to be together in life or death. No matter which European country you are in, that catchy syncopation, maniacal improvisations, and smooth rolls of jazz music will always be heard in restaurants, pubs, and clubs, This is very true for Istanbul.

And since Istanbul is a city where jazz music fuels the merry nightlife of tourists and locals, don’t wonder if it holds an annual festival for it. Every July, the Istanbul International Music Festival happens. It’s only 2 months away so plan your trip now.

You’re greatly mistaken if the jazz festival only features plain old jazz music. Istanbul International Jazz Festival is all about exploring the endless possibilities of jazz. Join and you’ll hear techno jazz, modern jazz, classic jazz, Latin jazz, and Nordic jazz. Minor reggae, pop. rock and funk performances also go live for more variety.

The IKSV that organizes this event is yet to announce the date. Keep visiting this site for further updates.

Tulip Festival

Tulip is a popular flower in Istanbul and other Turkish cities, not only because it’s inherently beautiful but also because its qualities relate to Islamic tradition. For example, in Islamic belief, no other flower perfectly represents the singularity and perfection of Allah.

The so-called tulip mania or tulip addiction is very recognizable in Istanbul. It’s a flower that you’ll see in parks, squares, and historic private estates. To make such an addiction grand, Istanbul even hosts the Istanbul Tulip Festival annually in Emirgan Park, and Gulhane Park where a tons of tulips grow.

During the Istanbul Tulip Festival, the venue is adorned with tulips. Also, tulip competitions are held to encourage tulip farmers to master their craft. Aside from this, you might also chance in joining tulip growing seminars and tulip arts and crafts.

Chill-Out Festival

So where do you go if you missed Coachella Festival? Answer: check the date of Istanbul’s Chill-Out Festival and the time of your visit to its commencement. The Istanbul Chill-Out Festival is the grandest 2-day music festival in Turkey. With that being said, it rivals Coachella if what you’re looking for is the fun and bonanza that party and pop music bring.

Usually, this festival happens in Garden Fiesta a small field in Istanbul’s Sariyer district. Istanbul Chill-Out Festival allows you to jam along with the performances of famous local and international pop icons. Nevertheless, the rave scene is the reason why most take part in this event.

The IKSV is yet to announce the official date and venue for this event.

International Dance Festival

March 24th — April 1st, 2021

Turks are known for their love of music, more so with their eagerness to get on the stage and get their bodies moving with the beat. If you’re wondering what festival provides the most festive dance scene in Turkey, go to Istanbul. Every year it holds various editions of the Istanbul International Dance Festival.

So is the Istanbul International Dance Festival a dancing competition? Maybe not. This event is a week-long workshop that Istanbul hosts every March going to April. It features professional dancing classes from well-known dancers all over the globe specializing in Salsa, Bachata, and Kizomba.

For 2021, the Istanbul International Dance Festival starts from March 24 – April 1. The venue is the Pullman Hotel and Conventional center, one of the biggest hotels within the city that are only an hour away from Istanbul International airport. Consider coming 2 days before and to explore the mosques and squares of Anatolia and Istanbul’s European side.

International Film Festival

The film industry of Turkey appropriately called the Yesilcam has its core in the capital city of Istanbul. Though not well-known in the U.S., Turkish films are highly popular in Arab countries. But Turkey is aiming for world recognition. That’s why, in Istanbul, the Istanbul International Film Festival commences annually every April.

Overseeing this festival is the Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts. The origin of this event goes back to the days when films were screened in Istanbul in periods spanning days, and then months. As per the foundation’s rule, submission is only limited to films, animated films, and documentaries.

The Istanbul International Film Festival is famous due to its absurd censorship policies. In the past, judges often banned movies from airing due to political and social reasons. There was even a case wherein one movie, which featured actresses, didn’t show because the government once banned women from starring in films.

Many are anticipating for this festival to happen this coming April 2nd – June 29th. The venue, on the other hand, is yet to be decided.

International Puppet Festival

Every October to mid-November, the districts of Besiktas and Beyoglu get lively as participants for the Istanbul International Puppet Festival arrive. This event features the top puppeteers from more than 12 countries. Aside from puppet shows, shadow theaters, live interviews with the puppeteers, and film screenings.

Out of all Istanbul International Puppet Festivals in Istanbul perhaps has the most unforgettable. It featured activities such as the Middettarranean Puppet Symposium, the Egyptian Puppet Exhibition, and workshops for Philippe Genty and Hacivat Karagoz.

Just like the Istanbul Jazz Festival, the official date for the Istanbul International Puppet Festival is yet to be decided.

Coffee Festival

The Turks are voracious coffee consumers. In fact, the latest available data shows that the coffee industry is bound to boom in Turkey. Moreover, trace the history and you’ll discover that drinking coffee is a practice that’s linked to Turkish culture since the 16th century.

And for expressing its love for coffee, Turkey holds the Istanbul Coffee Festival in late September of each year. A convention for all coffee lovers all over the world, the Istanbul Coffee Festival features all types of coffee from different parts of the globe. Also, you’ll see a lot of local and international brewers. To join, just head to Istanbul’s Kucuciftlik Park.

Istanbul Coffee Festival will run from September 19 – 22 if not postponed.

Gastronomy Festival

Highly esteemed by Turkish chefs and chefs from other countries, the Istanbul Gastronomy Festival takes place every February, This is an event in Istanbul that the Cooks and Chefs Federation of Turkey overseas to bridge Turkish cuisine to other cuisines of the world.

Istanbul Gastronomy Festival features cuisines from Turkey, Italy, Greece, etc. However, these aren’t the highlight. What makes this event very heated is the cooking competition of international chefs. Cooking competitions range from amateurs to professionals. Kiddie chefs can even join the fun and compete with cooks of similar age.

For this year, the Istanbul Gastronomy festival will run for 5 days. It will start on June 26 and culminate on the 29th.

Theatre Festival

The IKSV organizes this Festival every two-years. The first of its kind was held in 1989. This event features theatrical performances such as dramas, operas, and classical concerts from international and local theatrical institutions. Performances vary each year. That’s why it’s important to download the e-catalog from IKSV if you want to know the specific things to see.