Istanbul acts as a bridge between Europe and Asia and attracts tourists from all over the world. Thanks to the combination of the city’s thousands of years of history and international popularity, festivals in Istanbul gain a unique identity.
The most notable festivals in Istanbul are food, music and book festivals. In addition, there are dance, film, coffee and puppet festivals. Both Istanbulites and foreign tourists attend these festivals.
However, it should be noted that social activities in Istanbul have slowed down in the last five years with the refugee crisis and the subsequent Covid epidemic. For this reason, I cannot fully update the Istanbul festivals article in 2022.
This article will give you an idea of the most fun festivals held in Istanbul during the regular tourist seasons. After Covid, most of these festivals will be back again. However, it is not possible to specify a clear calendar for the festivals for 2022.
The List of Festivals in Istanbul 2022
There are 12 fun festivals and events on our list of festivals in Istanbul. Since Istanbul is famous for its food, especially gastronomy festivals are very enjoyable. In addition, the Tulip Festival is among the most entertaining events of spring.
Some of these festivals are junior festivals and have only been held a few times. I don’t know if they will be back as they have been paused due to Covid. However, old festivals such as Tulip, Jazz and Filmekimi have strong sponsors.
1. Istanbul Puppet Festival
Istanbul Puppet Festival has been held every year since 1998 and it aims to make the puppet traditions more familiar and promote Turkish puppet tradition to the rest of the world.
So far, Istanbul has hosted more than 300 puppet groups and more than 2,500 puppeteers and every year the festival offers new shows to puppet lovers. By attending the festival, you will get the chance to watch puppet shows from Russia, France, China, Hong Kong and many other places around the world.
In addition to enjoying puppet shows, you can join puppet-making workshops and make your own puppet.
2. Istanbul Dance Festival
Istanbul Dance Festival will be held in March this year. Dance lovers from both abroad and Turkey will have a chance to attend workshops that dance instructors from around the world will organize.
The last Turkey Dance Championship and Istanbul International Dance Festival “Salsa Dance event” was held in Silence Istanbul Hotel & Congress Center from March 28 to April 2, 2018.
3. Istanbul Film Festival
You can watch masterpieces, classic and recently aired movies at Istanbul Film Festival which is organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV).
There are many sections of the festival that have become classics in years, such as Young Masters, Mined Zone, Antidepressant, and Midnight Madness. Moreover, some more amazing movies are displayed at the festival’s special section.
4. Istanbul Bibliopole Festival
40 bibliopoles all around Istanbul gathers at Haydarpasa Railway Station at Kadikoy every year. The first Istanbul Bibliopole Festival was held in 2017 where rare books, magazines, records, second-hand books, and old maps could be found.
5. Istanbul Jazz Festival
Istanbul Jazz Festival has been organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art for 23 years and it aims not only bringing music lovers and artists together but also it supports the works of Turkish artists.
The festival is not limited to jazz music. Other different genres where electro music and join come together or rock, pop, blues, reggae, funk and world music are also included in the festival.
6. Istanbul Theatre Festival
The 22nd Istanbul Theatre Festival will be held in November 2018 and it aims to underline the similarities between different cultures and the common points of art among countries.
Istanbul Theatre Festival creates various education programs and supports them at the same time and you can enjoy around 100 dance performances, other stage performances and theatre performances from artists both abroad and Turkey. The plays are performed at 14 stages, most of which are on Europe side.
7. Istanbul Coffee Festival
The 2nd Istanbul Coffee Festival was held at Haydarpasa Rail Station and the 3rd one was held in Kucukciftlik Park. In both years, the festival attracted huge interest from coffee lovers.
Numerous types of coffee from all around the world are presented with amazing performances of foreign and Turkish baristas during the festival. Moreover, you can learn tips to make good quality coffee at your home and taste the coffee of boutique coffee sellers. Best coffee shops in Istanbul article might attract your attention.
Filmekimi is held by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (IKSV) every October and premiere nights of countless movies are also included in the schedule of the festival. Filmekimi is not limited to the audience in Istanbul. The festival is held in Edirne, Ankara, Eskisehir, Izmir, Bodrum, and Diyarbakir after Istanbul.
As in any other festival, the tickets of the festival are sold before it starts and you can enjoy movies from Europe and Far East Cinema. Due to high interest from the audience, additional sessions are included during the festival where movie lovers can enjoy watching a lot of great movies.
9. Istanbul Tulip Festival
The flower that this festival is named after once gave its name to a period during the Ottoman Empire and it was held in 2006 for the first time. Over 120 different types of tulips that blossoms in April make Emirgan Park, Gulhane Park, Yildiz Park, Beykoz Park, Big-Little Camlica, Fethipasa Park, and Hidiv Cubuklu Park colorful and they create quite a spectacle.
During Istanbul Tulip Festival, various cultural and art activities are organized at Emirgan Park, Goztepe 60th Year Park, and Sultanahmet Square. Furthermore, the biggest tulip carpet is laid at Sultanahmet Square. This tradition started three years ago for the first time.
While marbling artists perform live shows, 50 photographers who take the best tulip photos are awarded as part of The Most Beautiful 50 Tulips Contest. You can also buy tulips at Istanbul Tulip Festival.
10. Istanbul Shopping Fest
Istanbul Shopping Fest is organized and supported by Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Governorship of Istanbul, Turkish Exporters Assembly, Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, and Istanbul Development Agency.
You can do shopping at Istanbul Shopping Festival with special discounts of famous brands.
Istanbul Shopping Festival is the third festival that attracts the most attention following shopping festivals in Dubai and Singapore. The festival is held at nine shopping malls and Grand Bazaar.
11. Istanbul Book Fair
Istanbul Book Fair is co-organized by TUYAP (Tuyap Fair Convention and Exhibition Center) and Turkish Publishers Association and it is held every fall to meet book lovers. It began to be named “international” in 2005, but the festival was held in 2000 for the first time.
International Istanbul Book Fair is home to around 650 publishers from both abroad and Turkey and half a million book lovers visit the fair every year. In addition to buying books, visitors also have the chance to have an autograph of their favorite authors.
12. Istanbul Gastronomy Festival
Istanbul Gastronomy Festival is held by Turkey Cooks and Chefs Federation and it is the biggest gastronomy contest and festival of Turkey.
The festival is co-organized with WACS (World Association of Chefs’ Societies) and gastronomy society is hosted in Istanbul on an international level.
Istanbul Gastronomy Festival brings new chefs in gastronomy as chefs from around the world and Turkey compete in over 70 categories.
Written By Serhat Engul