The Antalya region on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is the second most popular holiday destination in the country. This prestigious status comes about for many reasons. As part of the scenic Turkish Riviera, it attracts yachting enthusiasts and the famous Lycian trail, a 516-kilometer walk covering ancient ruins is a favoured trek for history lovers. Antalya also has an impressive collection of gorgeous beaches instantly earning it automatic inclusion into the most guidebooks.
Naturally as a hub for foreign visitors, the yearly calendar of things to do in the region is bursting with events and festivals. From local get-togethers in the historical resort of Side to sporting events in cosmopolitan Kas, no traveller will ever find themselves in a state of boredom. Certain events are more popular than others though and here, Natalie from Turkish Travel Blog gives us a round-up of the most famous.
Artists Get Creative at the Antalya Sand Sculpture Festival
Run throughout summer in the Lara Beach area of Antalya, kids especially enjoy exploring the huge and extremely impressive sculptures made from sand. 2016 will be the 8th year of this unusual art event and while the theme has not yet been revealed, it is a forgone guarantee that participants will pull out all the stops to produce jaw-dropping copies of monuments, animals, landmark buildings or people. Previous pieces admired because of their excellence include a large copy of the laughing Buddha, a smooth-lined model of the Sphinx in Egypt and a decorative depiction of a mermaid warrior.
International Children's Festival
For six days from the 18th to the 24th of April, streets throughout Antalya will come alive with colourful costumes, musical parades and dance shows as children from all over the world join in an extended celebration of Children's Day, a yearly event and national holiday of Turkey that pays respect to future generations. Wearing costumes from their own countries, boys and girls join together to perform gymnastic shows, folklore dancing, ballet shows and musical performances. Also on the agenda is modern dance and traditional children's street games.
Anatolian Fire: The Best Dance of Turkey
Think of the classic River Dance show in the UK, and imagine a Turkish version that likewise leaves you stunned by the physical and mental abilities of the dancers. Anatolian Fire takes on a modern twist of classic Anatolian folklore dancing that stems from an area in the middle of Turkey. Along with impressive costumes, and a superb stage setting, the show portrays a musical version of the story of Troy. Run since 2007 all over Turkey, they always perform to sold out ticket audiences and for a few months every year, bring their talents to the Antalya region. Stay informed of dates for 2016, by bookmarking their website.
Aspendos Opera and Ballet
Since 1994, the Aspendos opera and ballet festival appears in Antalya during September, to sell out performances attended by lovers of dance art and fine music. Held in the ancient antique theatre of Aspendos, profound musicians and dancers combine with the fine acoustics of the theatre to produce magical shows that often make headline news in the country's national papers. In 2004, the Independent newspaper ranked this festival as the 5th best in the world, while the German Festspiele Magazine also classified it as a must see if in the Antalya region. Buy your tickets in advance and keep up to date with the program for 2016, by watching their website.
As well as the above 4 festivals, Antalya hosts many other events paying homage to various themes from all over the world. The Piano Festival held in November at the Cultural Centre highlights up and coming piano players while Jazz lovers head to Aspendos during July for some foot-tapping musical performances. The Side Cultural and Art Festival running from July to September base many of their events in the amphitheatre within the main town. The cr ème de la cr ème though is the Orange Film Festival, the most important in Turkey. Held every October, 2016 will be its 52nd year so expect to be wowed.