festivals in İstanbul
İstanbul has retained its cosmopolitan and metropolitan structure throughout the ages, and is a meeting point of different civilizations, empires, religions, languages, and cultures. Thanks to its unique location, generous historical and cultural heritage, and vivid city life, İstanbul is undoubtedly the capital of Turkish artistic and cultural life, as well as one of the most attractive cities in the world.
As a city that warmly welcomes art lovers and performers, İstanbul stages a wide range of arts & culture activities and festivals throughout the year like opera, ballet, film, theater, dance, and music festivals. In addition, many different festivals across an array of disciplines are organized in İstanbul such as gastronomy festivals, lifestyle festivals, and mega sporting events and competitions.
The İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) has been continuing its efforts to enrich İstanbul’s cultural and artistic life since 1973. The foundation organizes the İstanbul Film Festival in April; the İstanbul Music Festival in June; the İstanbul Jazz Festival in June and July; the Leyla Gencer Voice Competition in September; the autumn film week Filmekimi in October; and the İstanbul Theatre Festival in November. The foundation also realizes various one-off events throughout the year.
The İstanbul Film Festival is one of the most established film festivals in Türkiye, and has brought together the best examples of Turkish and the world cinema since 1982. The festival contributes to the promotion of Turkish cinema in the international arena, and hosts numerous international filmmakers, actors, and producers from all around the world. In addition to special and thematic sections, the festival includes world classics, retrospectives, silent film screenings accompanied by live music, animation cinema, and documentaries. Cinephiles can enjoy the films presented at the festival in various movie theaters across the city each April.
The !f İstanbul Independent Film Festival, Filmekimi, the Boğaziçi Film Festival, and the Akbank Short Film Festival are other prestigious and long-established film festivals that bring cinema lovers together in Türkiye.
Documentarist İstanbul Documentary Days and the Rendezvous İstanbul International Film Festival are also held in İstanbul and followed with great interest by cinema enthusiasts.
Music enthusiasts have the opportunity to meet various international and Turkish soloists, orchestras, and ensembles at the İstanbul Music Festival. Audiences enjoy stellar performances in the charming atmosphere of İstanbul’s historical venues.
The International İstanbul Opera Festival, initiated by the State Opera and Ballet within the framework of the selection of İstanbul as the 2010 European Capital of Culture, takes place every year. Prominent international and Turkish performers take the stage at magnificent historical venues across İstanbul.
Organized by İKSV since 1994, the İstanbul Jazz Festival features many prominent artists and is one of the most important events of İstanbul's cultural calendar. The festival, which includes many genres such as rock, pop, blues, reggae, and new age in addition to jazz, takes place at different concert and event venues in İstanbul. Having become over time one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe, the İstanbul Jazz Festival is a member of the International Jazz Festivals Organization (IJFO).
Deeply-rooted in the history of Turkish jazz festivals, the Akbank Jazz Festival has been welcoming the most important jazz musicians from across the world and promising and emerging artists since 1991. The festival, which includes different genres of electronic music and world music, along with classical and modern jazz within the scope of its expanding musical range, has become one of the favorite events not only for jazz aficionados but for all music lovers. The festival is a versatile organization with panels, workshops, film screenings, concerts, and social responsibility projects. Since 2006, within the scope of the event "Jazz on Campus," concerts have been organized on university campuses in many different cities of Türkiye such as Ankara, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, İzmir, Trabzon, Adana, Erzurum, Kayseri, and Kars. The Akbank Jazz Festival is a member of the European Jazz Network.
The city's new jazz festival, the Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival, has been held since 2017 and takes place on the Zorlu PSM stage. The festival’s program brings together different music genres such as blues, electronic, ethnic, funk, indie, classical, pop, rock, and world music under the umbrella of jazz. The festival presents audiences legendary names of jazz and emerging artists for about 3 months every year. In addition to the concerts, the Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival includes concept parties, panels, workshops, film and documentary screenings, a record market, and free outdoor activities, which have become a tradition in İstanbul’s culture and arts scene.
The İstanbul Theatre Festival, organized by IKSV, brings together international theater groups and artists who are the representatives of different theatrical genres in November each year. Thanks to the festival, theater enthusiasts have the opportunity to enjoy performances of both Turkish and world theater on many stages across the city.
The İstanbul Fringe Festival, a multidisciplinary performing arts festival, hosts many international and local performance artists and brings audiences a great variety of art performances. In addition, workshops, talks, and receptions are organized during the festival.
The İstanbul Comedy Festival, organized by the Beşiktas Cultural Center (BKM) since 2016, is realized with the participation of many famous and up-and-coming comedians from around the world. The festival, which covers all areas of comedy and enlivens İstanbul's art scene, offers a wide range of activities from humor-themed exhibitions to comedy shows, panels to comedy film screenings.
The İstanbul International Dance Festival, one of the most popular dance festivals in the world, is held each April with the participation of thousands of dancers from over 80 countries. In addition to stunning dance shows from various dance disciplines, the festival also offers dance workshops by prominent instructors.
The İstanbul Comics and Art Festival is an open-air festival that has been held annually in the autumn since 2016. The festival presents exhibitions, animation movies, street works, and workshops across the disciplines of comics, cartoons, illustration, fanzine, street art, graffiti, public mural art, and animation. Leading illustrators, publishing houses, and musicians participate in the festival, which takes place at various venues in İstanbul under a different conceptual framework every year. At the festival area, audiences can visit the stands and exhibitions of independent illustrators, fanzines, and lifestyle brands.
Other prominent festivals on İstanbul’s art agenda are 212 Photography İstanbul in October, the İstanbul International Puppet Festival and the İFSAK İstanbul Photography Days in November, and the International İstanbul Poetry and Literature Festival in February.
Spring and Summer Vibes
While İstanbul hosts numerous events throughout the year, especially in the spring and summer, the city's beautiful parks, gardens, art venues, and Bosphorus shores come alive with festivals. Particularly popular festivals include the Bach in the Garden Summer Festival, Chill-Out Festival İstanbul, Big Burn İstanbul, Red Bull Music Festival, İstanbul Dragon Festival, Electronica Festival, One Love Festival, Sónar İstanbul, Neon Festival, Milyonfest İstanbul and İstanbul Tulip Festival.
Lifestyle festivals and events, which form an important component of İstanbul's vibrant atmosphere, also await visitors. While sea and boat enthusiasts have the opportunity to examine many different boats exhibited at the İstanbul CNR Eurasia Boat Show and Tuzla Boat Show, shopping and fashion enthusiasts can enjoy İstanbul Fashion Week and the İstanbul Fashion and Music Festival. After all, İstanbul is one of the world's centers for fashion and shopping! The İstanbul Rooftop Festival is one of the autumn classics in İstanbul and brings music, drink, food, and participants together on the charming rooftops of İstanbul.
The Gastronomy World Meets in İstanbul
Thanks to its multicultural cuisine, İstanbul is one of the world’s most significant gastronomy hubs. The city hosts numerous gastronomy and food & drink festivals throughout the year. The world’s best chefs and international food professionals meet in İstanbul every year through these events.
Some of the finest examples of such gastronomy events are the International İstanbul Gastronomy Festival, the 24Kitchen International Food Festival, the 101 Tastes of İstanbul Festival, the İstanbul Coffee Festival, the MulledFest İstanbul, the İstanbul Cocktail Festival, the Brewstival İstanbul, the International İstanbul Tea Festival, and the İstcook Fest.
All about Sporting Events
İstanbul hosts several national and international sporting events and races in many types of sports. The Turkish Grand Prix – F1 Race, the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim, the İstanbul Marathon, the TEB BNP Paribas İstanbul Cup, and the International Presidential Yacht Races are the most prominent sporting events that attract the attention of sports enthusiasts in İstanbul.