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Where to Visit During National Holidays in Turkey

January 1st, New Year

New Years, as it is around the globe, is a huge celebratory day in Turkey. Large cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara are the top destinations to celebrate the upcoming new year. Istanbul should be your must stop at least on one year. In a city of 16 million, it is hard to not come across a celebration. You can take a private boat tour with your loved ones, and begin the new year between European and Asian continents as the clock strikes midnight, and fireworks go off from both sides. Beşiktaş in European coast, and Kadıköy on the Asian coast are known for their amazing sky shows and restaurants with sea view. If you wish to see Beşiktaş’s fireworks from Asia, Üsküdar coast could be a great location. Taksim Square in Beyoğlu district is the stop to be if you wish to begin new year among crowds of people. The famous Istiklal Street will be full of people, as well as the restaurants surrounding the area.

April 23rd, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day

The day was declared a national holiday by Atatürk, and gifted to pre-teen children when he founded the Republic of Turkey. Every elementary school prepares shows, poetry readings, and various other activities such as street parades to celebrate. The activities start from a week in advance at most cities, so you can travel between regions to watch how each local culture celebrates the day. Since the holiday is around the beginning of Spring, the Aegean coastal towns like Datça, and Izmir could be a great choice for the day.

May 1st, the May Day 

While it is a worldwide national holiday, Turkey has been celebrating the Workers’ Day officially since 1923. As the country is full of laborers, the citizens make large parades in every city. Major provinces like Istanbul and Ankara are important locations to witness how Turkish workers celebrate this day. People walk from Beşiktaş’s coastal districts to the inland Beyoğlu province’s Taksim Square every year. You will get the chance to hear original songs being sung by workers, as well as see various different slogans.

May 19th, Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day

It is a day of remembrance for Turkey’s victory of the Independence War against Britain and ANZAC forces during the Great War. The first celebrations began one year after the foundation of the republic, in 1924. National Athletes carry the Turkish flag from Samsun, a Black Sea port with a national history, to Ankara, the nation’s capital on a 10 day Marathon. High schoolers and youth everywhere prepare parades and shows, with music and colorful dresses. They gather on stadiums with crowds of citizens to celebrate the day. Ankara and Samsun are great spots to witness the day for their important histories, while warm coastal towns and Istanbul for its population is the spots to see larger parades.

Ramadan and Eid, May 23rd on 2020

The holiday where worldwide Muslims break fast. In Turkish, this holiday is also known as “Candy Day,” because kids walk around their neighbourhood to kiss the hands of their elders, and receive candy in return. Religious locations such as Istanbul, and Konya are great places to be during this Holiday. In Istanbul especially, the Grand Mosque in Fatih right across from Hagia Sophia is the top spot to break the final fast with family and community. In this day, the public usually prepares shows based on Ottoman Era, with left over clothing from then. Most Turkish people use this holiday to travel around the country either for vacation or to visit the relatives, so Eid is the perfect time to visit large cities for a tourist.

Festival of the Sacrifice (July 30th to August 3rd, 2020)

As a country with such a high Muslim population since the beginnings of Ottoman Empire, Turkey operates under Islamic Holiday schedule. Festival of the Sacrifice might be the most interesting to witness among all holidays. Called Eid al-Adha in Arabic, this holiday commemorates the Biblical Abraham’s willfulness during his journey. Livestock such as cows, goats, and sheep are common sacrificial animals during this holiday. While multiple families or people share one livestock, it is common to share the leftovers with the whole community. Since the holiday can go up to 10 days if working class uses their vacation times wisely, the major cities are often empty of the locals. It is a great time to visit all the touristic locations of Istanbul.

August 30th Victory Day

A celebration to commemorate Turkey’s victory against Greece by the end of the Great War. Although the full Ally forces left the lands on a later date, 30th of August was the day Turks threw the Greek army to the water in the Aegean province of Izmir. The day is remembered for the fallen soldiers, their sacrifice, as well as the strength of Turks at the time when they were most vulnerable. August 30th is the collective celebratory day for World War I. Since it falls on the summer break, families often go on a picnic or to watch the local celebrations. While Istanbul prepares beautiful activities, you should also stop by Izmir to be on the very lands that won the Turkish War of Independence.

October 29th, Republic Day

Considered to be the biggest holiday in Turkey, Republic Day is to celebrate the foundation of Turkey in 1923. On this day that year, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared Turkey a new country to the public, and the country changed from a Caliphate system to Democracy, where people could finally choose their leader. Istanbul is home to major celebrations on this day, while schools all around the country prepare various activities for the communities. There are street concerts at large districts, such as Beyoğlu, Kadıköy, and Maltepe. Beşiktaş coasts are known to host both concerts, and fireworks over Bosphorus like every major holiday in the country.

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