For expats living in Turkey, embracing local customs and engaging in cultural experiences can serve as a bridge to deepen connections with the local community and enrich their understanding of Turkish life.

Participating in Turkey's numerous festivals and local celebrations enables expats to immerse themselves in the nation's rich cultural tapestry, contributing to an enhanced appreciation for Turkish history, traditions, and way of life.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide expats with valuable insights into Turkish festivals, religious celebrations, cultural events, and regional traditions, equipping them with the knowledge and enthusiasm required to engage with Turkish customs and embrace the local culture wholeheartedly.

Turkey's vibrant calendar offers an array of diverse events, highlighting the historical, religious, and cultural significance of these occasions. Our guide begins with an overview of Turkey's central national holidays, delving into the stories behind key events such as Republic Day and National Sovereignty and Children's Day.

In discussing traditions and public events associated with these holidays, expats can partake in these festivities with a deeper understanding, fostering a sense of unity with their local community.

Religion plays an integral role in shaping Turkey's cultural identity, and our guide introduces major religious holidays celebrated in the country, such as Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. With an emphasis on explaining traditions and rituals from an expat's perspective, we aim to ensure respectful and informed participation in Turkey's religious celebrations.

Beyond national holidays and religious observances, Turkey boasts a lively cultural festival scene. Our guide offers insights into significant international and regional events, such as the International Istanbul Film Festival and the Mesir Paste Festival in Manisa, empowering expats to explore and participate in these festivities with confidence and curiosity.

For expats seeking a more intimate connection with Turkish traditions, engaging in local community events such as cooking workshops, storytelling nights, and handicraft classes can provide meaningful interactions and learning experiences. Our guide offers advice on joining these events to create lasting memories and personal connections with Turkish culture.

Lastly, understanding and adhering to local etiquette is crucial when participating in festivals and events. Our guide shares guidelines for respectful participation, ensuring expats forge meaningful connections with the local community while respecting Turkish culture, customs, and beliefs.

National Holidays: Celebrating Together as a Nation

Understanding and participating in Turkey's national holidays allows expats to connect with the country's history and traditions. Here, we explore two major holidays and their associated customs and events:

  • Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı): Celebrated on 29th October, Republic Day marks the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Key events include flag-raising ceremonies, parades, and festivities in cities across the country, with particular fanfare in the capital city of Ankara, where the republic was first declared. Expats can attend public events or watch the ceremonies on television, joining in the nationwide celebration of Turkey's rich history.
  • National Sovereignty and Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı): Commemorated on 23rd April, this unique holiday honours the Turkish Grand National Assembly's first meeting in 1920 and is dedicated to the children of Turkey. Underpinning the belief in the importance of children's voices in shaping the future, the day witnesses children taking over key roles in government institutions and events showcasing their talents in arts, music, and sports. As an expat, consider attending or participating in school events or local performances to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this cherished day.

Religious Celebrations: Reverence and Community Spirit

Participating respectfully in Turkey's religious celebrations allows expats to appreciate the country's spiritual heritage and foster connections with the local community. Here, we discuss two prominent religious holidays:

  • Ramadan (Ramazan): The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is observed with great devotion in Turkey, as Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Expats can show respect for those fasting by avoiding eating or drinking in public during daylight hours. The end of the fasting period in the evening, known as İftar, is observed with family and community gatherings, often starting with the breaking of the fast with dates and water, followed by a meal. In some cities, large-scale İftar events are organized, wherein expats might be welcomed to join in the communal experience.
  • Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayramı): One of the most significant Islamic holidays, Eid al-Adha commemorates the story of Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son and honors the importance of devotion and faith. During the four-day festival, Muslims typically sacrifice an animal (such as a sheep or a cow), distributing a portion to those in need, sharing some with relatives and neighbors, and consuming the remainder as a celebratory meal. Expats might also consider donating to charities assisting those in need during this time, as a gesture of goodwill and solidarity.

Cultural Festivals: Showcasing Talent and Artistry

In addition to religious and national holidays, Turkey hosts numerous cultural festivals providing expats with the opportunity to explore art, music, and cinema. Highlighting a few key events:

  • International Istanbul Film Festival: Held annually in April, this prestigious festival aims to showcase films from Turkey and around the globe, fostering a platform for creative exchange and appreciation of cinema. Expats can attend screenings, panel discussions, and events to immerse themselves in the world of international film.
  • International Ankara Music Festival: This annual event held in April and May highlights classical music, dance, and folk performances featuring local and international talent. As an expat, consider attending performances to enrich your cultural experience and discover new genres of music and dance.
  • International Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Festival: Taking place in Cappadocia's stunning landscape, this annual event in July showcases mesmerizing hot air balloon displays, with participants from around the world. Expats can marvel at the colorful spectacle while joining in the festivities, such as live concerts and workshops.

Regional Traditions: Unearthing Local Gems

Embarking on regional celebrations provides expats with unique insights into Turkey's diverse customs and traditions. Two such events are as follows:

  • Mesir Paste Festival (Mesir Macunu Festivali): Held in Manisa in March, this long-standing celebration centres around a special herbal paste believed to possess various health benefits. Expats can witness the traditional distribution of the paste to eager crowds, accompanied by music, dance, and festivities.
  • Camel Wrestling Festival (Deve Güreşi Festivali): In Selçuk and nearby regions, the centuries-old tradition of camel wrestling is observed, with events held between December and March. Expats can attend these events, which also feature food stalls and folk music, to experience this unique cultural activity.


By embracing Turkish traditions and participating in festivals and local celebrations, expats can deepen their connection to Turkey's rich cultural heritage and foster lasting bonds with the local community. By partaking in national holidays, religious events, cultural festivals, and regional celebrations, expats can fully immerse themselves in the splendor of Turkish life and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Ready to immerse yourself in Turkish culture and traditions? Let Ikamet help you navigate the expat lifestyle in Turkey. From visa approval services to an insider's guide to Turkish festivals and local celebrations, we've got you covered. Don't miss out on the opportunity to experience all that Turkey has to offer. Contact Ikamet today and start your journey to becoming a part of the community.

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