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Istanbul's 10 Unmissable Art and Culture Events this Summer
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Istanbul's 10 Unmissable Art and Culture Events this Summer

Picture of Carla Thomas
Updated: 9 February 2017
Istanbul, the metropolis of the near East once known as Constantinople, is an eclectic meeting point of cultures, religions and continents. It is the historical and cultural centre of Turkey, full of famous monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman past, and a modern city of 15 million people. Istanbul’s energy can be felt in these 10 cultural events happening this summer.

Art: 3rd Istanbul Children and Youth Art Biennial

15 May – 16 June, 2014

The Istanbul Children and Youth Art Biennial, first organised in 2012 with the support of the Istanbul European Capital of Culture, aims to help children and youths to participate in a plethora of contemporary art activities, using various materials and techniques to produce their own projects. Presentations, performances, workshops, conversations and concerts will provide art education and open new perspectives to audiences. All biennial activities will take place throughout the city and are free of charge.

Event takes place in various locations across Istanbul

Music | One Love Festival

14 – 15 June, 2014

The much-loved One Love Festival returns to Istanbul this year, after a few bumps on the way that ended to its cancellation in 2013. This year the event will be held in Parkorman, an outdoor venue with a capacity of 10,000 people, and will feature an eclectic and diverse line-up: German electronic trio Moderat, British dance music pioneers Basement Jaxx, cutting-edge British artist Bonobo, Danish former ballerina Oh Land and Syrian musician Omar Souleyman are some of the names announced already, making it a very promising June weekend.

One Love Festival, Parkorman, Istanbul, +902123282000



Art | Works by Andy Warhol, Stephen Chambers at Pera Museum

7 May – 20 July, 2014

The distinguished Pera Museum, housed in a historical structure built in 1893 and formerly known as The Bristol Hotel, is hosting exhibitions by the pop-art giant Andy Warhol and the contemporary British painter Stephen Chambers this Summer. The exhibition Andy Warhol: Pop Art for Everyone features 87 artworks from the private collection of Slovakia’s Zoya Museum, including the famous ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ and portraits of famous personalities such as Mick Jagger. Warhol’s silk prints are also being exhibited for the first time in Turkey. The second exhibition is Stephen Chambers’ The Big Country, inspired by the landscape of the 1958 American western film of the same name. According to the press release, the exhibition ‘explores a myriad of fictional encounters between real and imaginary historical figures’.

Pera Museum, Asmalı Mescit Mh., Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey


Art | Rabih Mroué

2 April – 27 July, 2014

SALT, one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks situated in a six-story 19th century building of neoclassical and oriental styles, hosts an exhibition of the renowned Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué this Summer. Through mechanisms of narratives, installations and storytelling, Rabih, who is also an actor, theatre director and playwright as well as a visual artist, recounts his own personal experiences of political unrest, demonstrations and civil upheaval in Lebanon.

SALT Galata, Karakoy, 34420 Istanbul, +90 212 334 2200


Music | Istanbul Jazz Festival 2014

1 – 16 July, 2014

The Istanbul Jazz Festival, held in the city since 1994, features jazz, rock, world music performances by many world famous artists in venues such as the Hagia Eirene Museum, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall as well as in outdoor areas throughout the city. With a yearly participation of nearly 50,000 people, the Festival is an opportunity for audiences to discover new approaches to world music, as well as to promote the creation of jazz music in Turkey.

Event takes place in various locations across Istanbul

Culture | International Performance Association’s festival

22 – 24 August, 2014

Many international art teachers and performers are gathering once again in Istanbul this year for the International Performance Association’s Festival, which offers workshops and performances. The Festival will bring together artists from different countries, including Agnes Nedergard from Norway, Andrea Pagnes from Italy and Verena Stenke from Germany. Workshops will start on 13th August, giving lucky participants the opportunity to create their own art under the guidance of experts.

Event takes place in various locations across Istanbul

Art | Aysel Alver

Istanbul, June 12-August 31, 2014

The central theme of Aysel Alver’s fifth solo exhibition, taking place at Galeri Ilayda, is the agony before the moment of death. Alver starts with the question, ‘When and how does ethical corruption begin?’ and her works try to evoke the experience of lost moral and ethical values in modern times. Entrance to the gallery is free and provides an unusual opportunity to see Aysel’s powerful work.

Galeri Ilayda, Hüsrev Gerede Cad. No 37 Teşvikiye, İstanbul, +902122279292


Art | Image and Beyond: Doménikos Theotokópoulos

23 April, 2014 – 14 June, 2014

The beautiful neoclassical Galata Greek Primary School building, empty since 2007, is now a prime art space hosting projects from the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and other exhibitions and biennials. On the 400th anniversary of the death of the great Greek/Spanish painter Domenikos Theotokopulos, or El Greco, the venue is paying tribute to his legacy with a research-based exhibition, including his Byzantine-inspired icons. Curated by Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, the exhibition will be a showcase of the painter’s anti-naturalistic style and complex iconography.

Galata Greek School, Kemeraltı Cad. No: 49, 34425 Galata, Beyoğlu-İstanbul, +90 212 293 6373

Art | Nazlı’s Guestbook Osman Hamdi Bey’s Circle

30 April – 10 July, 2014

Nazlı Hamdi, the youngest child of the renowned artist and cultural figure Osman Hamdi Bey, kept throughout her life a book full of dedications from the Bey’s circle of relatives, friends and colleagues who lived at the end of 19th and beginnings of 20th century. At the Research Centre for Anatolian Civilisations (RCAC), Edhem Eldem curates an exhibition focused on this guestbook that sheds light to the cultural environment of the era and contains signatures of famous people such as Gertrude Bell, the founder of the magazine Servet-i Fünun, Ahmed İhsan and the crown prince of Bavaria, among others. Photographs of encounters at the villa of Eskihisar where the family and friends often congregated, as well as details of Nazli’s last trip to Europe, make it a compelling exhibition for all to see.

Koc University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Istiklal Caddesi No: 181 Merkez Han, Beyoglu, Istanbul

Music | 42nd Istanbul Music Festival

31 May – 27 June, 2014

Istanbul’s biggest classic music festival ushers in the annual arrival of summer. This year, the Istanbul Music Festival welcomes 800 musicians, who will perform in venues such as Boğaziçi University’s Albert Long Hall, Cumhuriyet Park in Maçka, the Istanbul Toy Museum in Göztepe, among others. Participants will enjoy orchestral, solo and vocal performances, ranging from baroque to contemporary music.

Event takes place in various locations across Istanbul



By Alexandra Brannigan