Antalya Annual Festival
Situated on the sun-kissed Turkish Riviera, Antalya boasts a yacht-filled harbour and sandy beaches that stretch into a beautiful turquoise-blue sea. From visiting the lively Castle café to the Antalya museum, there’s plenty to do in Turkey’s second largest city. With a calendar bursting with events like the Antalya Golden Orange Festival and the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival, there’s so much on you’ll never find yourself at a loose end, whether you’re a culture lover, or a beach bum!
But if you really want get a feel of the city’s history and culture, then head here in September and add the Antalya to your things-to-do list.
Celebration of history and culture
Beginning on the 12th September and lasting for 18 days, this annual festival is a celebration of the city’s history and culture. A highlight of the year for both Antalya’s locals and visitors to the area, the Antalya Festival sees local traditions take centre stage and is well worth a family visit. Take a stroll along Antalya’s palm tree-lined streets and enjoy all the fun of fiesta time in this busy destination.
Sample some of Turkey’s signature dishes at the festival’s many food and drink stalls. From Kulakli soup (made with chickpeas and diced meat) to Tahinli Piyaz (a dried-bean salad seasoned with crushed sesame seeds), you’ll want to try all of the local dishes on the menu. Whatever you do don’t pass up on the chance to try lahmacun (a Turkish take on a meat pizza, with flatbread as the base), but just make sure you save room for dessert because Kabak Tatlisi (pumpkin topped with chopped walnuts) is an Antalyan favourite!
As you eat and drink, the atmosphere reaches its peak with performances of Turkish songs and dances. You will be expected to join in, so wear your dancing shoes!
Rich musical traditions remain strong in Antalya and during the festival you’ll see unique Turkish dances like the Zeybek, the ceremony of the whirling dervishes, and even belly dancing. A form of folk dance named after warriors from the Ottoman Empire, the Zeybek is said to simulate the movements of hawks and eagles. Marvel at the dancers in signature Turkish dress move to the distinct rhythm of nine slow beats.
Whirling dervish dancers will spin before you at dizzying speed, played out to the sound of the three-stringed rebap instrument. Watch as jewel-adorned belly dancers sashay in front of you in a spectacular floorshow. Inspiring new generations to continue these customs (and you might even want to take up belly dancing classes when you get home!), the Antalya Festival ensures you’ll experience an unforgettable evening of authentic Turkish culture.
There’s plenty to see outside of the Antalya Festival, too. Stroll through the winding lanes in the historic old-city district, or visit one of the many tea gardens, bars, restaurants and cafés that line the Roman-era harbour. You and the family can relax at one of the golden beaches, or explore the city’s many historic sites like the monumental Hadrian’s Gate and the late 14th century tombs. Use up your leftover spending money at the modern Selekler shopping mall that’s close to the centre, or browse Antalya’s bazaars and market areas for food, jewellery and souvenirs.