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Festivals in Istanbul

Festivals in Istanbul
Most of the best events take place between April and October.  Details of some are listed below but for more information check with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts or from one of the city tourist offices.

Istanbul Festivals in April

International Film Festival

Istanbul’s International Film Festival; founded in 1982, is the oldest, largest, and most wide-ranging film festival in Turkey and draws audience figures of 170,000 every year.  Turkish, European and Hollywood movies premier here along with the best of the world’s non-English speaking releases. There are usually famous celebrities in attendance adding glitz and glamour to the occasion. 

Istanbul Festivals in May

Conquest Celebrations

For one week there are fancy dress processions, fireworks and concerts by the Ottoman Mehter Military Band celebrating the Ottoman conquest of Old Constantinople on 29 May 1453.

International Puppet Festival

The festival spotlights Turkish shadow theatre or karağz using silent puppets that tell a story behind a two dimensional screen.  Puppet groups from all over the world come here to share their methods of this artistic form. 

International Theatre Festival

The festival began in 1989 and every year offers the finest examples of classical, experimental, dance and physical theatre, music theatre and theatrical concerts with performances by Turkish and visiting international artistes.  During the summer months many of the plays are performed at open air venues.  The festival attracts more than 20,000 people every year.

Istanbul Festivals in June

International Bosphorus Festival

This annual musical and dance event includes ballet and concerts of live classical, jazz, folk, rock, and pop music by local and international performers. Many take place in outside venues such as the amphitheatres, castles and historical sites in the city such as the Yıldız Palace and the White Pavilion at Emirgan Park.

Electronica Music Festival

Sponsored by a major soft drink company and organised by a local radio station this is Turkey's first and only dance music festival.  Featuring some of the best in this industry and spotlighting the stars of the future to its sell out crowds.  

Istanbul Festivals in June/ July

The International Music Festival

The festival was launched in 1973 to celebrate Turkey’s 50 years of independence and has been enormously successful.  Attracting the best orchestras and soloists the world over to perform European classical music, ballet, opera and traditional music in special venues like the church of Aya Irene.

Istanbul Festivals in July/ August

The International Jazz Festival

World class performers come to play and jam for two weeks in many venues across Istanbul with concerts given by local and international artists.

Rumeli Hisarı Fortress Concerts

This Ottoman fortification overlooks the Bosphorus and offers nightly summer concerts with a variety of performances from rock to classical.

Rock ‘N’ Coke

A full weekend of Turkish and Western rock usually held on the Hezarfen Airfield 50km west of Istanbul.  Turkey’s largest open air music and camping festival has hosted some of the biggest names in alternative rock, pop, electronica and other genres since 2003.  The Services buses run from Taksim to the airfield.  

Istanbul Festivals in September

Istanbul Arts Festival

Paintings, sculptures, pottery and fabrics are sold at this week long fair from more than 50 Istanbul galleries and visiting foreign artists.

Istanbul Festivals in October

Akbank Jazz Festival

One of Turkey’s longest running festivals brings worldwide renowned jazz artists and music lovers together.  The three week festival offers a rich concert programme, workshops, film screenings and informal jamming sessions in venues such as the Aya Irene and Babylon Performance Centre in Beyoglu.

Efes Pilsen Blues Festival

Showcasing new local talent along with famous international musicians over a two day late night period and has been promoting blues music in Turkey since 1989 with over 424,000 attendances to 355 concerts.

International Istanbul Biennial

This major event is held every two (odd numbered) years and exhibits artists from over 30 different countries in locations all over the city.


The best films from Cannes, Sundance, Berlin and Istanbul and hosted by the Emek Cinema in this week long filmfest.

You Can Also Read Festivals In Turkey Article   

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