Entertainment,  Event,  Festival

Balloons, blooms and ballet: The Turkish festivals not to miss in 2024

Experience the vibrant tapestry of Türkiye’s festivals in 2024, where each event offers a unique glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. From the surreal spectacle of hot air balloons drifting over Cappadocia’s moonscape valleys to the rhythmic grace of oil wrestlers vying for supremacy in Edirne, Türkiye’s festivals promise unforgettable moments of awe and inspiration. Whether you’re captivated by the melodies of the İstanbul Jazz Festival or enchanted by the blooming tulips of İstanbul’s parks, these celebrations unite tradition, artistry, and community in a colorful mosaic of experiences.

Türkiye’s eclectic collection of festivals offers visitors a valuable insight into the colourful history of the country.

Balloon Festival in Cappadocia

Cappadocia’s rugged moonscape valleys are one of Türkiye’s most iconic vistas and it’s thanks in no small part to the hundreds of multi-coloured balloons, which fill the region’s skies every year. Each July, the town of Ürgüp hosts the iconic Balloon Festival, which sees the air teaming with more than 150 balloons from all over the world.

Visitors can enjoy the unique spectacle from the ground or book a flight to soak up the region’s stunning landscapes from a unique aerial perspective, as well as witnessing balloon pilots’ skills in an adrenaline-fuelled flying competition. DJ sets, music concerts, dance performances, food vendors and more fill the town over the four- to five-day festival, while in the evenings, landbound balloons are lit up in a mesmerising display of globular light.

Istanbul Jazz Festival

Don’t be fooled by its title, the İstanbul Jazz Festival features far more than just jazz, and is now one of the biggest music festivals in the country. Every summer, crowds gather to enjoy blues, country, hip hop and more musical genres at various venues across the city.

Lineups are always star-studded and varied, with historic appearances from Eric Clapton, Jools Holland, Tori Amos, and Sting. This year’s festival takes place between 3-18 July and sees Grammy-Award-winning Gregory Porter and rock sensation Chris Isaak take the headlining stage.

Kırkpına Oil Wrestling Championship

Wrestlers compete during the 661st annual Historic Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling championship, in Edirne, northwestern Türkiye.

There are few ways to better know a destination than by witnessing its national sport. In Türkiye, this means watching kispet-clad, olive oil-soaked wrestlers (or Pehlivan) grapple for supremacy in a ring. Curious? Us too. The Kırkpına Oil Wrestling Championship is a summer event held over multiple days (usually in late June or early July) in the city of Edirne in Western Türkiye.

One of the country’s oldest sports (it dates back to 1346), it was historically a forum to show off the nation’s strongest men, though it’s now open to international competitors. The winner receives the Kırkpınar golden belt, a generous sum of money and, perhaps most prestigiously, the title of “Başpehlivan” (Chief Wrestler). To accompany the wrestling, spectators are entertained by dance performances, Davul drummers and local food vendors. 

Istanbul Tulip Festival

A woman takes pictures near a field of blooming tulips on display in the Emirgan Park in İstanbul, Türkiye.

Istanbul is pretty easy on the eye at the best of times, but it takes on a whole new sheen at the end of spring. Come April, millions of tulips bloom across the city’s parks and public spaces. It’s a floral display that will take your breath away, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering the lily is native to Türkiye and historically a symbol of nobility in the Ottoman Empire.

Anthophiles will be thrilled to discover that it’s not just tulips that brighten up the city’s walkways in preparation for summer; daffodils, hyacinths and other fragrant blooms also make an appearance. Head to Emirgan Park for the most verdant botanic exhibits. 

Mesir Paste Festival

Curious culinary travellers will want to add the city of Manisa to their itinerary if heading to Türkiye in March. This special spring festival commemorates the Turkish dish of Mesir Macunu. Produced using 41 different kinds of spices and herbs and believed to be medicinal, Mesir is credited with healing the mother of Suleiman the Magnificent some 500 years ago.

These days, on March 21st, the Mesir Paste Festival unites thousands of people beneath the city’s Sultan Mosque, all trying to catch the paper-wrapped paste thrown by imams from the minarets. Catching some is believed to bring family or career goals to fruition. 

International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

One of Türkiye’s most popular cultural events is the annual International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, held just outside of Antalya city centre. As well as the world-class operatic and dance performances on display at the festival, attendees get to bask in the ambience of the nearly 2,000-year-old Roman theatre it’s held in. Built by the architect Zenon, the ancient structure can hold up to 12,000 spectators and sports a versatile history: once serving as a roadside inn and then as a palace for the Seljuks. Today, singers and ballet dancers congregate here from all over the world to perform within its ancient walls.

Source: www.euronews.com

Harunur Rashid is an Aviation Professional and Trainer with over a decade of experience in the industry. He is a skilled writer, crafting engaging stories inspired by his global adventures. As a passionate Travel Enthusiast, Harunur Rashid seamlessly combines a love for exploration with an extensive knowledge of aviation. Join him on this exciting journey where the sky is not the limit, and every destination is a new chapter waiting to be written.

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