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Most famous Festivals in Istanbul

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Istanbul except from its beauty, offers also many festivals during the year!

It hosts many events including music, film, dance, theatre, trade fairs, exhibitions and sports events. Most of them have international importance and this is why Istanbul attracts spectators and performers from all over the world...

In the list below you will find some of the most famous ones:

Irternational Istanbul Film Festival

International Istanbul Film Festival

An annual highlight since the program features retrospectives and new releases from Turkey and around the world. Try to get your tickets in advance (late March – mid April, mainly at and around Istiklal )


Tulip Festival

Tulip Festival

Tulips originated in Turkey. So during spring period, many parks in the city are full of colored Tulips, that create an amazing sight! (April, Gulhane, Emigran, Sultanahmet park)


the Anzac Landings

Commemoration of the Anzac Landings

Australians and New Zealanders gather at the location of the Anzac landings in Gallipoli (25 April)


Theater Festival

International Istanbul Theater Festival

Turkey’s major theater festival alternates every year with the International Biennial (see Autumn/Fall). One of the few opportunities to see international theater in Istanbul. The program also features a selection of the best Turkish play of the last years (May – even years only, Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) in Taksim and other venues)


Conquest of Istanbul

Conquest of Istanbul

A lively reenactment of Mehmet the Conqueror’s conquest of Constantinople in 1453. This day also features exhibitions of traditional Turkish arts, parades by the ‘Ottoman’ Mehter band and fireworks (29 May, between Tophane and Karaköy, and on the shores of the upper Bosphorus)


Istanbul Music Festival

International Istanbul Music Festival

This is the most prestigious event on the city’s calendar. It consists of no less than 30 performances of classical music, opera and dance performed in historic locations, among which the Haghia Irene church – a unique chance the get a glimpse of its interior. (mid June – July, various venues)


Istanbul Jazz Festival

International Istanbul Jazz festival

An international event with a collection of conventional jazz, drum ‘n’ bass, world music and even some rock. Previous performers include Keith Jarret, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie as well as Miles Davis, Lou Reed and Patti Smith. (July, various venues)


Grease Wrestling

Grease Wrestling

Admitted, this one may be a bit of track since it’s held quite a distance from the city center, but this competition of wrestlers smeared in olive oil attracts a big crowd every year (July, Kırkpınar-Edirne)


Rock n Coke

Rock ‘n’ Coke

Not only Istanbul’s but also Turkey’s biggest open-air music festival, spread out over two days. In the past Moby, Peter Gabriel, Muse, Placebo, the Cure and Manu Chao performed at it (Early September, Hezarfen Airfield)


Istanbul Bienal

International Istanbul Biennial

A thematic exhibition of paintings, installations, screenings, walk-abouts, films, discussions and guided tours,created by over 50 artists from all around the world (September – November, odd years only, various venues)


Akbank Jazz Festival

Akbank Jazz Festival

Contrary to the International Istanbul Jazz festival, this event focuses on traditional and avant-garde jazz. Daily a dozen bands perform over a two week period (late September – October, various venues)


Tüyap Book Fair

Tüyap Book Fair

Istanbul’s premier publishing event showcasing prominent writers, academics and intellectuals. Attendees get discounts on new publications (late October – November, Tüyap Fair Center – Beylikdüzü)


Efes Pilsen Blues Festival

Efes Pilsen Blues Festival

This hugely popular Istanbul event has been entertaining fans of the Blues since 1990. Every night three foreign or local bands perform. It is also a showcase for new talent (November – selected venues)


Istanbul Puppet Festival

International Istanbul Puppet Festival

A great chance to catch puppet, marionette and shadow theater. Most plays are silent, so suitable for children and adults (2nd week of May, small venues all over town)

If there is a festival during your stay in Istanbul...don't miss it! 

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