Check your calendars: An annual list of posted events in Turkey

Check your calendars: An annual list of posted events in Turkey

On January 1, expats in Fethiye jump into the new year with “The Big Splash”, also known as “New Years Day Fancy Dress Dip”. This year it was launched as a New Year’s splash, and dozens of members of the local expat community in Çalış and beyond dressed up in costumes to take a dip in the sea to provide support on behalf of the charities they support. You will discover that the 3Cs are one of the most active posted charities in Turkey and host regular charity boots, holiday markets and extravagant “Soul Train” gala events.


If you are single and want to mingle, Yabangee, a website and event that organizes catering for foreigners in Istanbul, also regularly hosts holiday and theme parties such as their traditional “Anti-Valentine’s Day” events. If you are engaged and looking for a romantic place to eat, Le Cuistot Bistro in Beyoglus Asmalı Mescit serves divine international dishes prepared by the owner chef and the Belgian expatriate Carlos Le Cuistot. Very popular with the expat community, there are also regular live music performances by Cuban, jazz and swing musicians, such as the expat-heavy Uninvited Jazz Band.

Fast becoming the leading festival of its kind, the Turkish Highline Carnival (THC), takes place in Geyikbayırı, Antalya in late February. This week-long festival, which has been taking place for the past decade, was started by an expat. This carnival, held in Turkey’s best climbing destination, with relaxed campsites adapted for traveling climbers, is as exciting for spectators as it is for those who take part. The skilled highliners who dress up in costumes and traverse along narrow cords tied between mountains hundreds of meters up in the sky.


March is the start of Turkey’s autumn festival season, and some are so popular and packed with activities that it may be worth planning a trip to these out-of-town destinations. The Bodrum Bitter Herb Festival (Bodrum Acı Ot Festivalı) takes place in mid-March in Bodrum’s Ortakent district over two days, with live music, stalls selling local products and gifts and offering tastings of dishes centered on the famous Aegean Sea wild vegetables. Also worth a visit is Urla, a town just outside Izmir that also has a wild vegetable festival in the second half of March.

Every year, Irish musicians living in Turkey now or sometime meet at the James Joyce Irish Pub in Beyoğlu for week-long festivities to celebrate the Irish holiday of St. St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), or in this case St. Patrick’s “Week.” This Irish pub has long been a popular spot among the expat community, and in addition to having live music almost every night of the week, it also hosts English-language quiz nights.


The two most popular harvest festivals take place in April. It’s Alaçatı Herb Festival and Urla Artichoke Festival, and both are spectacular. They are multi-day events with tastings and gift shops along the streets. Stages are set up in the town squares, where cooking competitions, competitions, seminars and concerts are held as well as side activities such as hiking and various excursions in the region. This is a good time to visit these two popular holiday destinations in Izmir, but you need to plan early to secure accommodation, as literally hundreds of thousands have attended these festivals before.

The International Women of Istanbul (IWI) is an organization that has been around for well over 40 years. Their hundreds of members organize activities and meetings of special interest as well as two charity events open to all; their themed costume spring ball in April and holiday bazaar in December.

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Until May, you can start keeping an eye out for announcements about 3C’s Soul Train charity party. A biannual (May and September) entertainment gala attended by around 1,000 people in Fethiye with live musical performances, disco music, an auction as well as a series of raffles.


Expats in Turkey take the summer off from arranging events, as most either host guests or even go on holiday or just try to fight the heat. While resort towns tend to close down in the winter, expats do the same in the summer, and most will agree with me that we prefer the low season.


Things are swinging back in the fall and you can start watching revivals of English event series like Toast Master’s, Spoken Word, Inter Nations events and English-language comedy nights.


Although Turkey does not celebrate North America’s Thanksgiving, the Black Friday concept has made it across the globe, making the third Friday of the month the best time to shop, especially online.


Throughout the month of December (and even as early as November) there will be several holiday markets in Istanbul, Bodrum, Fethiye, Dalyan and Marmaris. The most regular annual Istanbul markets include the French-speaking association Istanbul Accueils Noel Bazaar, the artisan collective Handmade Istanbul and Bomonti Kermes, which benefits the old-age home Fransız Fakirhanesi. Last but certainly not least is IWI’s Winter Festival with dozens of stalls, Christmas songs, lotteries and of course Santa Claus.

In Bodrum, holiday markets were held this year at Trafo, La Pasion, Pab Bodrum and Kefi Beach, while The Jukebox hosted an annual Christmas charity extravaganza with a live band, Christmas songs, raffles and party food and competitions.

On December 24, Christmas Eve, expats and many locals from the small town of Dalyan, located in Muğlas Ortaca, have a very special tradition where they meet on Iztuzu beach before dinner and set tables along the coast for friends and strangers. celebrate Christmas with a pot lunch.

For Christmas, everyday life in Turkey continues except for the historic churches in Istanbul, which hold special holiday masses throughout the holiday and hotels and some restaurants that serve roast dinners or buffets in the evenings.

Global Wellness Day takes place on the second Saturday in June, where various wellness practices are introduced in free demonstrations around the world. Started by Belgin Aksoy Berkin, a Turkish woman and visionary in the wellness and spa sector, this year will mark the 10th anniversary of today’s founding, so expect a wide list of free demonstrations of a variety of wellness practices, introduced in one day long event at a special venue, such as last year’s full program, which took place at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul’s Bomonti.

While Bodrum this year has stepped up things with a two-week festival leading up to the new year, for expatriates every other Christmas day, which is December 26, Bodrum’s mayor is hosting a special party attended by hundreds to celebrate expatriate communities.

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