Things To Do On New Year’s Eve In Istanbul

Like every year, many of you are asking us the question: “where to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in Istanbul?

Istanbul’s New Year’s Eve celebration contains many alternatives. At a nightclub, a fairytale ball, a street party, or on the sea? The decision is yours. Istanbul is a fascinating city that takes shape of whatever you want to do. On New Year’s Eve, there will be hundreds of thousands of people having fun in many places. So how does Istanbul celebrate New Year’s Eve?

You’ll quickly see the enthusiasm of locals for this celebration during your walks in the city where Christmas decorations richly adorn the streets and buildings; Christmas trees are everywhere. Like the Christmas celebrations in the West.

Many people in Turkey start celebrating New Year’s Eve with a large family dinner. The main course is traditionally a roasted turkey. Variety shows on television begin in the late afternoon and continue until early morning of the next day. Many people play games while waiting for the clock to strike midnight. State TV channels announce the winning numbers of a New Year’s national lottery just before midnight. Many people in Turkey try to buy a New Year’s lottery ticket because it promises a large sum of money to the winner. Many people also congratulate each other, toast to a New Year and exchange small gifts at midnight between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

New Year Background in Turkey

December 31 became the last day of a calendar year in Turkey in 1926 when this country started using the Gregorian calendar. Turkey and the Ottoman Empire used a solar-based Islamic calendar (Rumi takvim) prior to 1926. New Year’s Eve became a popular holiday in Turkey after the Turkish parliament made January 1st (New Year’s Day) an official holiday in 1935.

The common symbols of New Year’s Eve in Turkey are:

  • The New Year’s tree (a decorated fir tree).
  • A roasted turkey.
  • Images of Noel Baba (the Turkish name for Santa Claus).

1- Take a stroll in the lively Istiklal Street

The most crowded and most entertaining Istanbul new year party celebration is going on the streets of Istanbul. At New Year’s, most district municipalities organize entertainment in the largest square of their district. However, the most famous street entertainment is on Istiklal, Taksim. It is a long colorful pedestrian street full of all kinds of shops, restaurants, cafes, street shows and more.

2- Visit Galata Tower

Galata Tower is an old Genoese tower overlooking the beautiful Istanbul and has a luxurious restaurant at the top. You can enjoy the excellent panoramic views of Istanbul, Golden Horn, and Bosphorus.

3- Cruising on the Bosphorus

New Year’s maybe the only time we can recommend the very touristic cruise on the Bosphorus with shows and dinner included. During this evening then you will cruise the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe passing along the Ottoman Palace, luxury villas and you will admire the panorama of Istanbul at night. The most is that you will be at midnight in the middle of the Bosphorus to start New Year’s under the light’s fireworks and the Bosphorus Bridge.

4- Mystical night out at the Whirling Dervishes Show

Whirling Dervishes Show or Ceremony (“Sema” in Turkish) is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul with tourists. It is because that this ceremony is a very unusual event for the tourists and when they hear about it, majority of them try to catch this one hour show and witness the miracle of the whirling dervishes. The best performances take place at the Hodjapasha Culture Center in Sirkeci, Eminonu.

5- Restaurants, Bars and Clubs

Istanbul is certainly not short of venues and there is something for everyone. Istanbul offers a wide range of Turkish cuisine at the variety of well established, good and luxury Istanbul restaurants. Istanbul also offers wide range of world cuisine such as Mediterranean, Japanese, Italian, French, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Thai food.

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