Festivals are a huge part of Turkish culture, from centuries-old wrestling competitions to contemporary music festivals and everything in between. If you want a Turkish adventure jam-packed with culture and even more stories to return home with, then consider planning your trip to coincide with one of these popular festivals and events.

1. Ramazan

Whether or not you want to travel during Ramazan (Ramadan) will depend on what kind of adventure you’re after. If you love immersing yourself in local culture and religious practices (and don’t mind a little inconvenience) you might just find travelling during this holy month a fascinating and enriching experience. While the days are dedicated to fasting and contemplation, the evenings are full of colourful festivities and, of course, feasting! Plus, there are usually fewer tourists to compete with, so it’ll be easier to connect with locals and dodge queues at all the top attractions.

2. Anniversary of the Anzac campaign

Every year, thousands of people head to the Gallipoli peninsula to pay their respects to fallen Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers who died during the bloody Gallipoli campaign of World War I. This moving ceremony held at dawn is an iconic event that continues to grow in popularity each year, so if you're hoping to head to Gallipoli in April for Anzac Day, then plan ahead as accommodation and tourist activities can get booked up.

3. Efes Pilsen One Love Festival

This annual two-day music festival held in Istanbul features an eclectic lineup of rock, pop, folk and electronica music. Join masses of partygoers to boogie in the sunshine and soak up the summer vibes.

4. Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championship

Want to see wrestlers get doused in olive oil and grapple with each other? Then this is the festival for you! The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championship is one of the world's oldest continuously running sports competitions. It’s held over several days, usually in late June, and is a great opportunity to see Turkey's national sport celebrated with gusto and fanfare. Apart from bouts of intense wrestling, you’ll also be entertained by traditional Romani bands, belly dancing performances and plenty of delicious Turkish food.

5. Istanbul Tulip Festival

Just when you thought Istanbul couldn’t get any prettier, the annual tulip festival proves you wrong. The tulip became a symbol of nobility in the Ottoman Empire, and it was the Turks that introduced this beautiful flower to Europe in the 16th century. Every year since 2015, the local authorities plant millions of tulips in the city's parks and streets. The flowers blossom in late March, creating a dazzling display of colour for about a month. Some of the best places to take a stroll and witness the flower power include Emirgan Park, Gülhane Park Sultanahmet Square.

6. Hidirellez

Hidirellez is an annual holiday that takes place in early May to celebrate the arrival of spring and plant seeds of hope for abundant harvests. The origins of the festival date back thousands of years, and while the essence of the festival is shared throughout the country, each region has their own traditions. Expect to listen to top-tapping folk music, see the hair-raising fire-jumping ritual and watch dancers twirl around in traditional costumes. Traditional food eaten during Hidirellez includes seasonal vegetable and lamb dishes.

7. Cappadocia Balloon Festival

With underground cities, cliff-carved churches and a landscape of towering wind-carved fairy chimneys, Cappadocia must be one of Europe’s most enchanting regions. To add to the magic, the town of Ürgüp hosts an annual balloon festival where you can see hundreds of hot air balloons – in all shapes, sizes and colours – dotted through the sky. It’s a truly terrific, once-in-a-lifetime sight. There are also plenty of other events to enjoy on the ground including music concerts and DJ performances.

8. Mesir Paste Festival

The Mesir Paste Festival is a centuries-old tradition that takes place in spring to commemorate the recovery of Hafsa Sultan (wife of Selim I) who, legend has it, was cured of a disease with mesir paste. This sweet, medicinal paste is made with 41 herbs and spices including black cumin, anise, dried orange blossom and cardamom. Three tonnes of mesir paste are wrapped in little papers and scattered among the crowds standing below the Sultan Mosque. Catching one is believed to answer your prayers and bring good luck. The festival also features traditional music and theatre performances.

Click to return to Turkey FAQs

Our Turkey trips

15 Days From 2930

Join a small-group adventure through Turkey and see Istanbul's Blue Mosque, Cappadocia...

9 Days From 4085

Enjoy a nine-day small ship Adventure Cruise of Greece and Turkey to Santorini and...

15 Days From 2025

From Istanbul to Ephesus, Pamukkale to the coast, and Cappadocia to the Anatolian...

15 Days From 4125

This 15-day Premium tour takes you into the ancient heart of Turkey. Begin and end in...

27 Days From 7920

Discover Iran and Turkey on a 27-day Premium adventure that delivers rich culture,...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

18 Days From 2035

Go deeper than Derinkuyu on an 18-day Turkey trip beginning and ending in Istanbul,...

8 Days From 950

See the highlights of Turkey on this eight-day adventure. Start in Istanbul and visit...

15 Days From 1720

Take a 15-day Turkish adventure from Istanbul, past the Gallipoli peninsula, Ephesus,...

5 Days From 1360

This five-day retreat is based in Fethiye, Turkey and allows travellers to experience...

14 Days From 1470

Discover the best of Turkey on a 14-day trip exploring Istanbul, Gallipoli, Fethiye,...

8 Days From 3060

Discover Turkey on this 8-day Premium journey that features Istanbul, the Blue Mosque,...

11 Days From 1235

From Istanbul, hit the hotspots of Turkey through Gallipoli, Ayvalik, Selcuk, Ephesus,...