Turkey's festivals, public holidays and religious days throughout the year


    1st January 2023: New Year's Day


New Year's Day (Yeni yıl gün) in Turkey starts with fireworks after the traditional countdown at the end of 31st December. There is parties held in quite a few bars and restaurants and celebrations can go on until dawn. As is customary in many countries, it is usual practice for Turkish people to relax and visit friends and relatives on New Years Day.

In Turkey, December 31st became the last day of the calendar year when in 1926 they started using the Gregorian/Western calendar. January 1st was later made an official holiday in 1935.

There is always a great atmosphere in Kalkan on New Year's Eve and many people gather along the harbour front to celebrate and welcome in the New Year.

Schools, post offices, public/government offices and banks are closed on New Years Day.



    23rd March - 21st April 2023: Ramazan, fasting from sunrise to sunset


The Islamic holy month of Ramazan (called Ramadan in other countries) is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. Although Ramazan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian or western calendar varies by approximately 11 days each year (the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar). The date of Ramazan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the new moon has been sighted.

Muslims observe Ramazan as a month of spiritual reflection, praying, celebrating and fasting between sunrise and sunset. Fasting Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, chewing gum and smoking during daylight hours. The fasting is intended to help Muslims examine their lives and learn self-discipline, self-restraint, compassion and generosity.

It is common to have one meal (known as the suhoor), just before sunrise and sometimes before dawn music is played in the streets to alert people to rise and eat before the fast begins. Ramazan is also a time for celebration and after sunset the feasting begins with many families getting together for a ceremonial meal called Iftar.

If you are on holiday in Kalkan during the month of Ramazan, it is business as usual with all the restaurants open and serving alcohol, although they may be less busy at lunchtimes. It is considered polite in Turkey not to eat or drink in the streets during the day during the holy month, however in Kalkan they are very understanding of tourists and are unlikely to be offended.

The final ten days of Ramazan are regarded as being especially important. In particular the 27th night of the month which is referred to as the Night of Power (Lailat al Kadr). On this night Muslims believe the first revelation of the Qu'ran was sent down to the prophet Muhammad.


    21st April to 23rd April 2023: Ramazan Bayrami, sometimes called Şeker Bayrami (sugar feast)

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Beginning when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky on the last day of Ramazan, there is a 3 day national holiday called Ramazan Bayrami (or Şeker Bayrami - sugar feast). The first day of the festival is known as Eid al-Fitr, when Muslims will gather to offer Allah a prayer of thanks for giving them the strength to practise self-control during Ramazan. On this day it is obligatory for Muslims to give a set amount of money to charity to be used to help the poor buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate.

A lot of sugary foods and sweets are feasted on during this celebration and it is especially nice for the children who sometimes receive small gifts. Greeting cards are exchanged and time is spent visiting family, friends and loved ones.

Ramazan Bayrami is an official National holiday in Turkey and banks, schools, post offices and government offices will be closed, usually from lunchtime on the last day of Ramazan and then the following 3 days. Archaeological sites and similar visitor sights are normally closed for the first full day of the holiday, but open on the second and third days.


    23rd April 2023: National Sovereignty and Children's Day


This celebration is to commemorate the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly (the Turkish Parliament), which took place on April 23rd, 1920 during Turkey's War of Independence (1919-1923) which freed all of Anatolia from foreign rule. Atatürk reportedly dedicated the Turkish Republic to the children and a children's week was held starting on April 23rd, from 1923-1934. The Turkish government then combined the two events into National Sovereignty and Children's Day in 1935. On this day Turkish school children take seats in Parliament and symbolically govern the country for one day.

In many towns children are allowed free admission to places and can be made Mayors for the day. You may see children holding hands to symbolize unity and Turkish Flags on display.

In Kalkan, National Sovereignty and Children's Day starts at 09:00 with a brief ceremony at Atatürk's statue (in between DoyDoy and Salt & Pepper restaurants along the upper level of harbour front restaurants), then the action moves to the top of the town (at the market place), where crowds gradually gather to watch the Kalkan schoolchildren's dancing, musical performances, singing and gymnastic displays.

National Sovereignty and Children's Day is an official holiday in Turkey. Government offices, schools, post offices and banks are closed on this day. Public transport routes may vary in the event of street performances.


    1st May 2023: Labour and Solidarity Day


Labour and Solidarity Day in Turkey is symbolised by worker's hands holding the globe or images of people from around the world holding hands.

This national holiday was previously banned by the government for almost 40 years due to protests which descended into violence and was only reinstated in 2009. Some Turkish people participate in demonstrations on Labor and Solidarity Day (usually in the larger cities) to demand better conditions for skilled labourers and union workers, or protest the government's policies. Many people also choose to use the day off to relax and spend time with friends and relatives.

May 1st is celebrated as workers day in many countries and in Kalkan the locals gather together for a procession down Şehitler Caddesi, from the bus station, towards the town centre. The procession ends at the Mustafa Kocakaya school, where they celebrate their nationality with speeches and traditional live music.

Labour and Solidarity Day is a National holiday in Turkey and banks, schools, post offices and government offices will be closed.


    19th May 2023: Commemoration of Attaturk, Youth and Sports Day


'Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day' (Atatürk'ü Anma, Gençlik ve spor Bayramı) celebrates the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun in 1919 and the beginning of the War of Independence which resulted in a victory for Turkey and the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk later became independent Turkey's first president during which time Ataturk himself proclaimed May 19th as "Youth & Sports Day" to recognise the importance of the youth of Turkey, and celebrate their achievements. In the aftermath of Ataturk's monumental legacy, the day also serves to honour the country's founder.

This day is a great opportunity to see Turkish children demonstrating their patriotism. In Kalkan it starts with a procession down to the Atatürk statue (located between DoyDoy and Salt & Pepper restaurants) and a short ceremony. Following this, the celebrations continue at one of the schools where after some patriotic speeches, the children provide entertainment in the amphitheatre with sports displays, singing and dancing.

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day is a National holiday in Turkey and banks, schools, post offices and government offices will be closed.



    27th June 2023: Kurban Bayramı Arifesi (Feast of the Sacrifice's Eve)


Feast of the Sacrifice's Eve (Kurban Bayramı Arifesi) is a religious holiday known in some countries as Eid al Adha. The half day holiday is used to go shopping and make preparations for Kurban Bayramı which goes on for 4 days and is the most important Islamic festival of the year. Most tourist attractions will be closed for a half day on the Feast of the Sacrifice's Eve. Banks, companies, schools and government services will be closed for the whole duration of the festival. The date of the Feast of the Sacrifice's Eve will vary from year to year as it it based on the Islamic calendar which is lunar so days begin at sunset. There can be a difference of 1 day to the 2014 date shown, depending on when the New Moon is first seen.


    28th June - 2nd July 2023: Kurban Bayramı  (Feast of the Sacrifice)

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Feast of the Sacrifice (Kurban Bayramı) is a 4 day festival where community spirit and acts of charity are celebrated. Animals such as a cows, goats or sheep are sacrificed/slaughtered in honour of the Islamic prophet  Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his first born son Ismael as an act of faith and obedience to Allah, before Allah intervened and replaced  his son with a lamb to sacrifice instead.

During Kurban Bayramı it is customary for followers to dress in their finest clothes, buy new outfits for their children and give old clothes to those less fortunate. Those who can afford to will usually sacrifice an animal such as a goat or sheep. Trained butchers kill, clean and package the meat for families. Typically 2/3 of the meat is then used to make a lavish feast which is shared with friends, relatives and neighbours and the remaining 1/3 of the meat is distributed between the poor. In more recent times, some Turkish Muslims choose to give money to charities for the poor rather than slaughter an animal. During the celebrations many people use this time to travel and spend time with friends and relatives around the country. This is the most important religious festival in the Islamic calendar and coincides with the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj). Domestic and international travel routes and public transport is likely to be very busy in Turkey during this time.

Kurban Bayramı is a public holiday and banks, companies, schools and government services will be closed for the whole duration of the festival, as will some supermarkets and medical centres.


    30th August 2023: Victory Day

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Dedicated to the armed forces, Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı) is to commemorate Atatürk and celebrate the victory over the Greeks at one of the final, most decisive battles in Dumlupınar in 1922 which led to the end of the Turkish War of Independence. Turkish people accept 30th August as the date of the Turkish troops' overall victory.

Victory Day was made a national holiday in 1935 and many Turkish people spend the day attending military parades, which take place in big cities throughout the country. Air forces celebrate the day with demonstration flights and shop keepers and residents display Turkish flags and pictures of Atatürk.

In Kalkan this day is usually marked in the morning with a ceremony at the Atatürk statue (located between DoyDoy and Salt & Pepper restaurants) attended by local VIP's. Later in the evening there is a torchlight procession with fire torches and lots of Turkish flags on display. This starts at around 20:30 from the bus station and moves down to the harbour. Following this, the celebrations continue with a play or music concert and fireworks.

Victory Day is a national public holiday in Turkey. Banks, schools, post offices and government administration offices are closed on this day. Workers in private companies may have a day off or work until noon, but most large supermarkets and shops stay open. Public transport routes may vary in the event of street parades.


    28th October 2023: Republic Day's Eve


Republic Day Eve (Cumhuriyet Bayramı Arifesi) is a 1/2 day national holiday on the eve of the anniversary that proclaimed Turkey a Republic in 1923. Commemorative events for Republic day usually begin in the afternoon of Republic day eve.

Schools, post offices, public/government offices and banks are closed from lunchtime on Republic day's eve.


    29th October 2023: Republic Day


Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı) is the anniversary of the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. After Turkey's victory led by Atatürk in the War of Independence (1919-1923), the Turkish parliament amended the constitution and proclaimed Turkey a Republic on 29th October 1923. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was unanimously appointed as the first president of Turkey on the same day and according to Atatürk, Republic Day is the country's most important holiday.

Celebrations throughout Turkey are on a grand scale on Republic day and many cities host traditional parades with musical bands and flags, with firework displays in the evening. Turkish children take delight in entertaining parents and teachers in school performances and many people attend stadiums to watch traditional dancing and theatre plays dedicated to Republic day. On this day public speeches are sometimes made by politicians and people may visit monuments to Atatürk or travel to Atatürk's mausoleum in Ankara to pay their respects. While for most Turks Republic day is a day of celebration, for some it is an opportunity to stage demonstrations against the government, which may go on in the larger cities.

In Kalkan the band from Kalkan First School usually march into town during the day and celebrations continue at the market place. In the evening there is a torchlight procession down to the harbour front where crowds gather for free entertainment (traditional Turkish music and dancing or maybe a concert) culminating in a spectacular fireworks display. The local Belideye (council) sometimes host a Republic Day Party at the harbour front with free food.

Schools, post offices, public/government offices and banks are closed on Republic day and Public transport routes may vary in the event of street parades.