Festivals and Events


More than 100 festivals take place in Turkey every year.  Along with the local festivals organised in almost every city of the country, international culture and art festivals are also held in major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya.  Istanbul is the most important centre of international culture and art festivals and sponsored festivals.      

The Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation organises the International Istanbul Film Festival every April, the International Istanbul Theatre Festival every May, the International Istanbul Music Festival every June and July, the International Istanbul Jazz Festival every July and the International Biennial once every two years.  Within the framework of these festivals, hundreds of renowned performing artists and musicians from all over the world gather in Istanbul, adding further colour and cultural lustre to a city which is famous for its historical and cultural richness.

In the summer months, a number of annual music festivals are sponsored by some prominent Turkish corporations.  The Pamukbank Dance Days, which brings world-famous dance groups to Istanbul, the Efes Pilsen Blues Festival which has been going strong for over ten years and hosts well-known groups, the Akbank International Jazz Festival, during which Turkish musicians and the jazz masters of the world meet, the Yapi Kredi Art Festival, which has the characteristics of one-year-festival , with its activities from Rock and Roll and pop to classic music and jazz spread throughout the year, and the Fujifilm World Music Days are the most important of these music festivals.

In the capital city, Ankara, the International Ankara Music Festival is held every year in April-May by Sevda Cenap And Foundation.  The Festival, which is a member of the European Festivals Union and of which the 16th was held in 1999, has hosted over 8000 famous artists up until today.  Moreover, the Turkish Choruses Festivity, which is run by the Polyphonic Choruses Association established with the objective of spreading polyphonic music in the country, brings together thousands of music lovers, with its increasing number of invited choruses and listener capacity every year.

The International Izmir Festival held annually is organised by the Izmir Culture, Art and Education Foundation.  The 16th year of the festival was celebrated in the year 2000, which was held in historical places such as the Amphitheatre at Ephesus, the Celcius Library and the House of the Virgin Mary and, as it is the case every year, world-famous artists and groups in the branches of orchestra concerts, chamber music, ballet, theatre, jazz and pop participated in the event.  Additionally, the 7th Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, which attracts about 80,000 people every year, was held in the year 2000.

The Bilkent International Anatolia Music Festival, which is one of the most important organisations calling from Turkey to the world, for friendship and peace through the language of music, carries the magical rhythm of the classical music to various regions of Anatolia throughout a month every year.  This festival was the first of its kind among international festivals in its mobile capacity and it celebrate its 6th year in 1999. 

The oldest film festival in Turkey is the Antalya Film Festival.  This festival which celebrated its 40th year in 2000, is sometimes referred to as the Oscars of the Turkish film industry.  The International Ankara Film Festival and the Adana Altin Koza Film Festival are two other important film festivals which attract the cinema-lovers of Turkey.  Film weeks are also held in many other cities.

Other prominent festivals inclue the Edirne Oil Wrestling Championships typically held in June, the Mevlana Commemoration (Whirling Dervish) Festival in Konya which takes place in December and the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival (June/July).

Among the other annual festivals of Turkey  are the Traditional Mesir Festival in Manisa, the International Music and Folklore Festival in Adana, the Cesme Music Festival in Cesme, the Ceramic Festival in Kutahya, the Hittite Festival in Corum, the GAP Culture and Art Festival in Gaziantep and the Kemer Carnival in Kemer.

Principal Turkish International Culture & Art Festivals


1/7 April    Manisa    Traditional Manisa Mesir Festival
17 April / 2 May    Istanbul    International Istanbul Film Festival
23 April    Ankara    International 23 April Child Festivity
26 April / 9 May Ankara    International Ankara Film Festival
27 April / 20 May Ankara    International Ankara Music Festival
6 / 10 May Eskisehir    Yunus Emre Culture and Art Week
7 / 11 May    Ankara    International Ankara Cartoon Festival
20-26 June    Edirne- Kirkpinar    Traditional Kirkpinar Oil-Wrestling Festivities
30 May / 2 June    Istanbul    International Istanbul Theatre Festival
06 June / 19 july    Antalya    Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival
6 June / 2 July    Istanbul    International Istanbul Music Festival
12 June / 12 July    Bursa    International Bursa Festival
15 / 25 June    Ankara    Bilkent International Theatre Meeting
15 June / 15 July    Izmir    International Izmir Festival
22 / 27 June    Adiyaman    International Commagene Festival
5 / 10 July    Konya    Alacati International Child and Youth Theatres Festival
7 / 18 July    Istanbul    International Istanbul Jazz Festival
20 / 25 July    Izmir    Cesme Sea Festivity and International Song Contest
14 August    Ankara    Bilkent International Anatolia Music Festival
16 / 18 August    Nevsehir    International Haci Bektas Veli Memorial Celebrations
4 / 12 September    Izmir    Izmir Fair International Folk Dances Festival
17 September / 8 November    Istanbul    International Istanbul Biennial
2 / 3 October    Sanliurfa    International Ataturk Dam Water Sports Feast
3 / 5 October  Alanya    Alanya International Culture and Art Festival
14 / 26 October    Sanliurfa    Sanliurfa International Culture and Art Week
3 / 7 December Antalya    Demre International St. Nicholas Memorial Celebrations
10 / 17 December    Konya    Mevlana Memorial Celebrations