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23 February 2019 / Travel

Turkish Spring Festivals

Are you coming to Turkey in April? If so, try visit one of the many spring festivals - they are a great chance to join in the fun and gain an insight into local life and culture.

Spring is seen by many in Turkey as the best time of the year. As the cold weather subsides and the warm sun starts to take over, April see Turkish villages and towns come to life. Spring is seen as a time for celebration, a time to give thanks to Mother Nature.

Turkish Spring Festivals

Spring Festival Turkey

10th Alaçatı Herb Festival (April 5th - 8th 2019)

Back in July of last year, Ann Able of Forbes described Alaçatı on the Cesme peninsula as the "best-kept luxury travel secret on the Mediterranean". She noted the innocence and charm of this fishing village, it's cobblestone streets, interesting alleyways, windswept beach and cafe culture.

Alaçatı is indeed charming and has so far escaped mass tourism. Up until recently, Alaçatı had only really been favored by the Turkish elite and a few in-the-know foreigners. But now, each Spring the area comes to life in celebration of wild herbs and the locals’ passion for natural food and cuisine.

Since the first Alaçatı Herb Festival in 2010 the event has grown considerably. Visitors from far afield come to browse the stalls, learn about medicinal herbs and sample the dishes created using them. People attend workshops, speeches and seminars are given, and people can learn about the healing benefits of local plants or how to incorporate them in everyday cuisine. There is a parade, local children sing and give performances, and cookery competitions are held.

Yesiluzumlu Fethiye Mushroom Festival

11th Yeşilüzümlü Morel Mushroom Festival (April 5th - 7th 2019)

Each April, the sleepy mountain village of Yeşilüzümlü near Fethiye springs to life in celebration of the morel mushroom. The quaint village streets fill with craft stalls, Turkish pancake stands, locals selling homemade cakes and pastries - and of course a vast display of morel mushrooms!

The morel mushroom is a gourmet treat and prized by chefs and foodies the world over. Unlike most mushrooms, morels are not farmed but gathered in the wild. During the festival visitors are treated to a range of events starting with an opening ceremony where speeches are given and a big vat of mushroom soup is shared. Throughout the day, children put on performances, drummers play traditional music, and teams forage for morels in the surrounding forests. Competitions are held and bands and musicians put on live shows of an evening.

Artichoke Festival Turkey

Urla Artichoke Festival (April 26th - 28th 2019)

If you are partial to artichokes and happen to be around Izmir late April, do head along to the 5th Urla Artichoke Festival.

Urla is a pretty Aegean town located between Alaçatı and Izmir. It is fast becoming a holiday destination but still retains a traditional charm. April is a wonderful time to visit and the festival, organised first in 2015, is a three-day long celebration of the beloved artichoke. Locals gather, visitors come from around Turkey, and the cobbled streets of Urla fill with stalls where you can learn how to cook this popular thistle, sample dishes, and buy fresh artichokes. Turkish and foreign chefs give speeches and share culinary tips, and music and dance fill the streets throughout the day and evening.  

Istanbul Tulip Festival

Istanbul Tulip Festival (Last 3 weeks of April 2019)

Did you know that tulips come from Turkey and not Amsterdam? Well, they do - and each year during the last 3 weeks of April, when the tulips are at their best, Istanbul celebrates this popular flower.

The Ottomans loved tulips. They loved them so much that the years leading up to the 1730's became known as 'The Tulip Era' (Lale Devri). During the 17th and early 18th century the Ottoman Empire started heading through Europe, including Holland, and took tulips with them. The Dutch were immediately taken with the flower and started cultivating them in high quantities and exporting them overseas - this is why many assume tulips originated in Holland.

The Istanbul Tulip Festival is one of the biggest tulip festivals in the world and it's not focused in one specific location - you will find tulips throughout the city. Artists using the tulip design in their work put on exhibitions, parks and gardens fill with displays, roadsides are adorned with tulips, and window boxes are filled with flowers. One of the most striking displays is the carpet of tulips in Sultanahmet, although the rainbow displays in Gulhane and Emirgan are also spectacular. If you are in Istanbul during April, the Tulip Festival will be hard to miss - the city simply explodes in a vast array of multi-coloured tulips!

To find out more about Turkish culture and lifestyle, please see the Turkey Homes blog.

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