Istanbul is a city that never sleeps. And it becomes even more lively when festivals are on. Istanbul has something for everyone and you can enjoy festivals whether you like to dance, watch stage shows or experience new tastes. Here is the definitive cultural, art and entertainment guide to Istanbul:
1. Istanbul International Dance Festival
Istanbul Istanbul International Dance Festival, one of the largest dance festivals in the world, is held every year for approximately one week at the end of March and into the first days of April. Dancers from Turkey and all over the world demonstrate new dance methods and show their skills in workshops. During the festival, held each year in a different hotel, the workshops and training run from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm. Then the parties get started and there’s fun to be had until 7.00 am.
2. Istanbul Film Festival
Istanbul Film Festival started in 1983 under the name of “Cinema Days”. Cinema Days was a weekly film screening event. The Istanbul Film Festival, which is organised every year in April under the umbrella of an institutional structure such as the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), has been held regularly for 28 years. Short and long film screenings and biennials take place during the festival. Istanbul Film Festival is Turkey’s oldest and most influential international film festival. To date, it’s shown 5759 films from 110 countries and reached over 4.2 million viewers. The festival has screenings in major cinemas across Beyoğlu, Kadıköy, Zincirlikuyu, Tepebaşı, and Nişantaşı. Ticket prices vary. You can buy tickets online or on the door. Visit the website for the programme and detailed information.
3. Istanbul Jazz Festival
Another international festival organised by İKSV is the Istanbul Jazz Festival. The festival runs from the end of June to the middle of July, during which time the city is full of jazz. Thousands of jazz lovers from all over attend every year without fail to enjoy some of the more than 30 concerts. Concerts are held at various historical locations in Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia Eirene Museum, Esma Sultan Mansion, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, and also at dreamy outdoor venues and courtyards of some of the city’s landmark buildings. The International Jazz Festivals Organisations (IJFO), made up of the six most prestigious jazz festivals in the world such as Montreux, Umbria, Montreal, and London, consider Istanbul Jazz Festival to be one of the leading jazz festivals in Europe. Ticket prices vary according to events. You can visit the website for the programme and detailed information.
4. Istanbul Puppet Festival
The Istanbul puppet festival runs from the end of October to mid-November each year. Organised by the Istanbul Karagöz Puppet Foundation, the festival brings together puppet enthusiasts from many countries around the world. In addition to puppet performances, the festival includes film and video screenings and interviews. It’s held in the exclusive venues of Beyoğlu and Beşiktaş and includes participants from Europe, Far East countries, Asia and Africa. You can visit the website for detailed information.
5. Istanbul Theatre Festival
Seminars, events, workshops, and competitions are organised at the Istanbul Coffee Festival, held every year in the last week of September. In the festival held in Küçükçiftlik Park, there are sessions in the morning, at midday and in the evening. Ticket prices vary and detailed information is available on the website.
6. Istanbul Coffee Festival
Seminars, events, workshops, and competitions are organized at the Istanbul Coffee Festival, which is held every year in the last week of September. In the festival held in Küçükçiftlik Park, there are sessions in the morning, at midday and in the evening. Ticket prices vary according to these sessions. Tickets allow you to enter 2 sessions on the selected day, before and after the midday. You can visit the website for detailed information, or you can buy tickets for the daily or the whole festival.
7. International Istanbul Tulip Festival
During the International Istanbul Tulip Festival, organised under the leadership of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, you can see tulips all across the city. The festival is especially celebrated with events in some special places such as Emirgan Grove, Kadıköy Göztepe 60. Yıl Park and Sultanahmet. You can wander around the gardens and parks full of tulips, have a picnic and take photos. In addition, the ITF international tennis tournament and beach football tournament between universities are organised as part of the Tulip Festival. You can visit the website for detailed information.
Event Date: April
8. Istanbul Book Fair
The Istanbul Book Fair started in 1983 and is organised by TÜYAP Fairs. Considered the largest event in the industry, it has the highest access to readers in Europe with approximately 500,000 visitors. Hundreds of events and book signings are organised, making the fair one of the leading cultural activities in Istanbul. The fair is run in conjunction with the Turkish Publishers Association. You can find tens of thousands of books and meet your favourite writers to talk about their work. There are many activities such as interviews, panels, performance poetry and workshops, featuring Turkish writers and poets, and also writers and poets from across the globe. You can also find old books, records and many other collections that are no longer in print. Throughout the fair, shuttles depart from Taksim and take you to the door of the book fair, or you can use public transport. For the full programme and ticket information visit the website.
9. Istanbul Gastronomy Festival
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Another Another festival in TÜYAP Beylikdüzü is the Istanbul Gastronomy Festival. If you’re in Istanbul in the last days of February, you can savour different tastes and many local foods. Throughout this festival, which is important not just to chefs in Turkey, but to international gastronomy experts, and their brands, various taste contests take place. The festival dubbed as “Continental” by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS), is organised by the Cooks and Chefs Federation of Turkey (COCFED). You can find out more about the festival on the festival website.