festivals in İzmir
İzmir is Türkiye’s third-largest city, and a major trade and cultural center located in the Aegean region. The city is known for its historical heritage, numerous tourist attractions, special cuisine, and wide range of art events and festivals. İzmir hosts tens of thousands of festival lovers at the festivals held in the city center and around the region throughout the year.
The International Ephesus Opera and Ballet Festival, organized by the İzmir State Opera and Ballet every year, takes place in the world-famous ancient city of Ephesus in Selçuk and in various emblematic venues of İzmir such as the İzmir Kültürpark Open Air Theatre. At the festivals, art lovers have an opportunity to see leading performers from Türkiye and the world.
The Ephesus Theatre Festival is another event that takes place in the mesmerizing atmosphere of the ancient theater of Ephesus, the largest theater of the ancient world, and brings a variety of theater groups to the Aegean coast.
The İzmir Foundation for Culture Arts and Education (İKSEV), which has brought important festivals to İzmir, was founded in 1985. The foundation organizes the International İzmir Festival and the İzmir European Jazz Festival every year. Every two years, İKSEV also organizes the Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı National Composition Contest. Since 1998 the contest contributed to the composition of nearly 200 symphonies by national composers who enrich the polyphonic music culture of Türkiye.
The International İzmir Festival celebrated its 33rd anniversary in 2020. The festival covers a wide spectrum of classical, traditional, and contemporary works in music, ballet, theatre, and opera including both international and national performances, and provides opportunities to numerous world-renowned artists to perform at unique historical venues around İzmir like the Ephesus Ancient Theater, the Library of Celcus, the Odeon at Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, St. Polycarp Church, Sığacık Castle, and more.
Another event organized by İKSEV is the İzmir European Jazz Festival, which is a member of the European Festivals Association. The festival offers audiences the chance to hear many famous local and international jazz artists. It also provides the opportunity to young jazz musicians in Türkiye to participate in workshops and masterclasses by established artists.
The İzmir International Puppet Days, one of the most well-known puppet festivals in the world, hosts many puppet theater groups from various countries in different art venues of the city. In addition, the festival program includes exhibitions, workshops, and panels.
Film enthusiasts can also find various film festivals in the city such as the International İzmir Film Festival, the İzmir International Short Film Festival, the International 2 Sides Short Film Festival, the Balkan Panorama Film Festival, and the Central European Film Festival.
Other distinguished art festivals and events that take place in and around İzmir are the Ephesus Culture and Art Festival, the Karşıyaka Theater Festival, the International İzmir Literary Festival, the Electronica Festival Çeşme, the Çeşme International Classical Music Festival, the Sonic Swim Festival, the Foça Jazz Days, the Çeşme SunJazz Festival, the Urla Jazz Festival, and the Karşıyaka Jazz Festival.
İzmir, located on the Aegean coast, is one of the first places to come to mind when we mention gastronomy and culinary culture in Türkiye. İzmir has made a name for itself with its cuisine which is based on healthy and fresh ingredients. Naturally, many gastronomy-related festivals and events take place in İzmir, a city famous for its agricultural products such as olives, figs, and grapes.
Some prominent gastronomy festivals are the Alaçatı Herb Festival, the International Urla Artichoke Festival, the Mart Dokuzu Urla Herb Festival, the İzmir Gastro Fest, the İzmir Boyoz Festival, the İzmir Coffee Festival, Brewstival İzmir, Shake It İzmir, the İzmir Cocktail Festival, the İzmir Chocolate and Dessert Festival, Tasting Alaçatı, the Urla Traditional Grape Harvest Festival, the Buca Grape Harvest Festival, the Kavacık Grape Festival, the Gökçealan Grape Festival, Gümüldür-Özdere Mandarin Festival, and the Seferihisar Mandarin Festival.
The International Bayındır Flower Festival, where colorful flowers are exhibited by producers and welcomed with great interest by visitors, heralds the arrival of spring in İzmir every May.
Traditional Festivals Are Everywhere!
Traditional festivals also play a very important role in İzmir's cultural life. The Hıdrellez Spring Festival, the Selçuk Ephesus Camel Wrestling Festival, and the Bornova Camel Wrestling Festival stand out as the best examples for visitors who want to get to know Turkish culture. The Selçuk Ephesus Camel Wrestling Festival is one of the most famous camel wrestling festivals and takes place each January. Camel wrestling has its origins in the nomadic tribes of Anatolia where camels were a part of daily life.
Among the important sports events organized in İzmir and its surroundings are the the Veloturk Çeşme Granfondo, Wings for Life World Run İzmir, the Çeşme Weekend Sports Festival, the İzmir Bay Festival, and the Color Sky 5K Running Fest.