Aspendos & International Opera & Ballet Festival
The rich history of Turkey can be seen through the ancient ruins that have been uncovered on sites across the island. One of the most famous in Turkey didn’t need to be unearthed, as its impeccable preservation and construction means it still stands at approx. 22 meters high. It’s said to have been built as a gift for two rich brothers during the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, between 160-180 A.D.
The Roman Theatre of Aspendos is a spectacular sight to see. Climb the stairs to see the arena in all its glory; it once sat up to 7600 people around the grand stone structure. Keep going to the top and wander through the hand-carved archways for picturesque views of the Turkish countryside. Nearly 400,000 people every year visit this highly decorated monument.
Come to Antalya and it’s not only the yacht-filled Old Harbor, sandy beaches and turquoise-blue waters you can enjoy. Visit the ancient site near the modern-day village of Belkis and see the awesome 2000-year-old theatre, which is considered the best-preserved Roman theatre of the ancient world. It’s here that Turkey’s internationally acclaimed Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is held. The unique atmosphere and acoustics of the Aspendos theatre means it’s one of the best places around the world to hear opera and watch ballet.
Unrivalled historical setting
Take a trip to the Aspendos theatre when the festival is on and you’ll experience the magic of the opera in an unrivalled historical setting. Organised by the Turkish State Opera and Ballet since 1994, the festival’s held over a three to four-week period every year with performances at the Aspendos Festival watched by thousands of people.
The seating capacity of this massive antique theatre was once estimated at 10,000 to 15,000, but recent attendance at the festival shows that it’s closer to 20,000. Accepted as a member of the European Festivals Association in 2003, it’s also earned its prestigious place among other festivals in the world.
The main aim behind the festival was to remove the barriers of religion, language and race by bringing people together with art, and with opera and ballet companies now coming from around the world to perform here every year, it’s safe to say it’s achieved its goal!
On the programme
There’s a mix of popular and experimental opera, ballet and classical concerts on the programme, including iconic productions like Madame Butterfly, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake showing regularly. Whether it’s the Moscow State Ballet, Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, or Antalya State Opera and Ballet on stage, every performance is breathtaking with the theatre as its backdrop.
You can also expect the stage design and costumes to match the high standard of the performers. Watch the performance in comfort and bring some cushions, food to eat before the performance and pack an umbrella in case of rain.
You can buy tickets for the Aspendos International Opera & Ballet Festival both in advance online, and on the night from the ticket office at the theatre. You can also take a short walk from your hotel and buy tickets from a travel agent in Antalya or Side. If bought in advance, ticket prices may vary but are around £12 per person. There are also a number of year-round shows at the Aspendos Arena, a more modern arena close by, so if you want to experience the Roman amphitheatre be sure to book your tickets for the right place.
There are plenty of tours that will take you and the family from Antalya or Side to see the opera and ballet at the famous Aspendos theatre. If you’d prefer to take public transport, you can hop on a cheap city bus to Serik and then on to Aspendos from there or book even a private taxi for the family.