Istanbul Events and Festivals

(Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey)

Photo of summer concert crowdsIstanbul holds around 100 special events throughout the year, spanning themes of international importance and local interest. The jazz and film festivals are major events, attracting spectators and performers from around the world. Holy festivals related to Islam are also observed in Istanbul, the dates of which shift according to the Islamic calendar.

Most of the city's festivals are held during the summer months when outdoor conditions are comfortable and tourists are already flooding the streets. Otherwise, several of Turkey's national holidays are given in honour of Ataturk and the Turkish Revolution, meaning that whenever you arrive in Istanbul, there will likely be plenty of things to do and local celebrations to enjoy.

Istanbul Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015


  • Kurban Bayram - also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, this festival is celebrated by Muslims around the world. As pilgrims complete their pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims the world over contemplate Ibrahim's willingness to give his son as a sacrifice to Allah


  • Istanbul Fashion Fair - Istanbul is one of Europe's largest clothing suppliers, and this festival (held in February and August) showcases cutting-edge designs generated by Turkey's fashion elite


  • Water and Film Events - this public forum is held to give citizens around the world a chance to participate in the global quest for solutions to sustainability issues. Debates and screenings are held during this four-day event


  • Istanbul International Film Festival - film makers and screen actors from around the world gather in Istanbul for this world-renowned film festival. The event is held in multiple cinemas across town


  • International Theatre Festival - mid-May, crowds topping 20,000 gather for this event. A lifetime achievement is awarded both in Turkish and international arenas. Genres span experimental and classical productions
  • Ataturk Commemoration Day - May 19th, a national holiday that honours the legacy of Turkey's revolutionary icon


  • International Istanbul Music Festival - stretching from June to July, this event features ballet, opera and classical music performances. Performers from around the world participant in this decades-old event


  • Istanbul International Jazz Festival - observed in early July, this occasion features jazz musicians from around the world. It was first organised by the Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts more than 20 years ago and has grown into a high-profile event


  • Victory Day - a national holiday commemorating a 1922 battle against the Greeks. After four days of conflict, the Greeks were defeated. Victory Day is locally known as Zafer Bayram


  • Izmir Fair International Folk Dance Festival - held across the strait in Izmir, this annual festival showcases the long-standing culture of local folk dances


  • Republic Day - also known as Cumhuriyet Bayram, this national Turkish holiday commemorates Ataturk's announcement in 1923 of the birth of the Turkish Republic
  • Ramadan - the entire 10th month of the Muslim calendar is marked by a holy observance. During this time, Muslims are encouraged to fast during daylight hours as well as to refrain from vice and violence, promoting camaraderie and tolerance instead. The end of the month is marked by a three-day festival


  • Remembering Ataturk's Death - on the 10th day of November at exactly 09:05, the country of Turkey observes a moment of silence to commemorate the passing of Ataturk in 1938


  • Mevlana Festival - southwest of Istanbul in Konya (on the Asian peninsula), a festival is held late in the year to honour the 14th century poet and mystic Celaddin Rumi, who founded the order of whirling dervishes (dancers)