Turkey offers more than just a captivating culture and breathtaking landscape. It is essentially regarded as a haven for a variety of holidays and festivities, many of which have been revealed to contribute to the country’s modern image. Celebrations in Turkey encompass a wide range – music festivals, sporting and outdoor events, nightlife gatherings, cultural festivals, religious festivities, and lifestyle events. In addition to the local festivals celebrated in nearly every city across the country, there are numerous other significant festivals that gain international popularity and are held in major city centers such as Ankara, Turki, Antalya, and Zmir.
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Istanbul serves as the main hub for festivals. During the summer months, Istanbul hosts various music festivals. Regardless of which Turkish city you plan to visit, make sure to plan your trip around these 10 festival and celebration events in Turkey:
- Izmir World Fair
- Kadir Gecesi
- Sweet and Sacrifice festivals
- Traditional Dance Festivals
- Camel Wrestling
- Music Festivals
- Rock’n Coke
- International Aspendos Opera And Ballet Festival
1. Izmir World Fair
Izmir is renowned for being the host of the oldest festival tradition in Turkey, which takes place during the Izmir World Fair held in early December. The fair is organized by İZFAŞ, a subsidiary of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. The social and musical events that coincide with the commercial fair began as a supplementary activity to attract public interest, but over time, the festival has become an important event on its own. This is one of the most sought-after Turkey festivals in 2023.
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The most vital religious celebration is Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish), the Muslim month of refraining from drinking water, food, tobacco & engaging in any sexual contact. Otherwise, life continues as usual during Ramadan, while the majority of individuals are fasting from sunrise to sunset. Some restaurants close for the duration or significantly reduce their menus, others discreetly hide their dining areas behind curtains, but at most establishments you will be served with surprisingly good manners. This is one of the most popular celebrations in Turkey.
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3. Night of Destiny
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Night of Destiny (The Eve of Power), when Mohammed received the Koran from Kristus, takes place between the 27th and 28th days of the month of Ramadan. Mosques – beautifully illuminated for the entire month – are filled all night, as it is believed that prayers at this time hold special significance. On the last day of Ramadan, known as Arife, people visit cemeteries and pay homage to their deceased loved ones.
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4. Sugar & Sacrifice Celebrations
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The third day Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Holiday) immediately follows Ramadan and is celebrated with family gatherings, giving presents and candies to children, and refraining from dining out. On the eve of Arife, the night after the Night of Destiny, it is necessary to make early reservations for tables at fine restaurants. The fourth day Kurban Bayramı (Festival of the Sacrifice), in which the sacrificial offering of a sheep symbolizes Abraham’s son Ishmael (a Quranic version of the biblical story), is marked by the widespread slaughter of lambs and goats.
Throughout the Seker & Kurban festivities, traveling becomes challenging, so it is advisable to make your reservations well in advance for a seat on any long-distance train or plane. This is one of the most renowned celebrations in Turkey. Another important factor to consider is that numerous stores, banks, museums, and government offices close during this time.
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5. Traditional Dance Festivals
Cultural festivals are most captivating in cities and resorts that possess the resources to attract internationally acclaimed performances. Almost every town hosts an annual celebration, although some have limited appeal to outsiders. Traditional dance festivals provide an opportunity to witness Turkey’s finest dance troupes showcasing a variety of Turkish dances in authentic attire. Well, what more could you ask for when visiting these marvelous places! This is one of the popular Turkish festivals 2023.
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6. Camel Wrestling
Camel wrestling is not as widespread in Turkey as it used to be and is now mainly limited to the Aegean region along the western and west coastline. Every January, near Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most renowned archaeological sites, a camel wrestling competition takes place. Typically, a pair of male camels, referred to as bulls, get the opportunity to compete for the affections of a beautiful female camel, known as a cow. This is one of the most popular celebrations in Turkey.
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7. Music Festivals
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One of the most renowned musical events in the Gumusluk region of Turkey, the majority of the festival commences on September 5th, but there are also some classical performances that take place in July, August, and September. Symphony orchestras are a fantastic choice for unwinding after a long day of sightseeing. An exceptional annual focal point, as the program showcases concerts and new releases from Turkey and across the globe. It is advisable to secure your tickets well in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly. This festival is generally observed in and around Istiklal Caddesi, or late March – mid April.
8. Rock’n Coke
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Last but not least, the biggest rock festival in Turkey, Rock’n Coke, is undoubtedly worth a visit. Established in 2003 and sponsored by Coca Cola, Rock’n Coke is a massive festival held at the Hezarfen Airfield, featuring renowned musicians from all around the world such as Travis, Limp Bizkit, Placebo, Muse, Iggy Pop, Linkin Park, Gogol Bordello, and many others. If you are a music enthusiast, this festival is a must-attend. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now for Turkey and enjoy these vibrant festivals with your family and friends.
9. International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival
Another captivating festival in Turkey is the International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, held annually. This festival takes place at the Roman Aspendos Theatre, which is nearly 2000 years old and located outside of Antalya. Aspendos is one of the most well-preserved theaters in the world and is renowned for featuring top-notch international opera and ballet companies.
Cappadox is another fascinating festival held annually in Turkey since 2015, amidst the picturesque landscape of Cappadocia. It is a celebration of music, contemporary art, outdoor events, and gastronomy. The festival attracts international artists like Mercan Dede, Rhye, Ilhan Ersahin, Acid Pauli, and many more! It offers one of the finest food festivals in Turkey.
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Being a nation accommodating billions of individuals, Turkey must illuminate the days & nights of its cherished residents with various celebrations & occasions. A thousand festivities are organized annually in Turkey. So you have a thousand motives to plan your upcoming trip to Turkey.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the primary holidays in Turkey?
The following are the key festivities in Turkey: 1. New Year’s Day: 1 January 2. National Sovereignty & Children’s Day: 23 April 3. Labour Day: 1 May 4. Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day: 19 May 5. Victory Day: 30 August
6. Republic Day: 29 October