Please mark your calendars as it is time to prepare for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Luckily, several holiday markets are held in Istanbul and other towns populated by expats along the coast. Let the fun begin by visiting some of these great holiday-themed events to shop for gifts and enjoy the atmosphere and spirit, many of which can be as enjoyable as the actual holiday day!
Christmas Market Istanbul
Christmas Market Istanbul has been a big blowout event for the past four years of gift-shopping, holiday snacking and concert performances. Previously held at the Four Seasons, this year’s festivities will take place at the Six Senses Kocataş Mansions in Sarıyer from Dec. 8 – 25. This posh hotel, with spectacular views consisting of several stately mansions, will be opening its doors and decks to 17 days of holiday festivities coupled with performances by top-notch stars.
The lineup, with different performers on each day and some days twice, is: Sattas, Can Bonomo, Ayhan Sicimoğlu, Fatih Erkoç, Yalın, Cem Adrian, Zeynep Bastık, Gaye Su Akyol, Pandami, Dr. Alban, Levent Yüksel, Fatma Turgut, Köfn, Yaşar, Mavi Gri, Madrigal, Feridun Düzağaç and Yalın again on Christmas Day.
Tickets for the event are divided into day passes, with one session each day on weekdays and two sessions on the weekends. Every Sunday, Dec. 10, 17, and 24, there will be a special session for children, with entrance for those under six.
Since 2019, this has been Istanbul’s most popular Christmas fair, with gift stands, workshops, carousels and mini ice skating rings. One of the highlights, though, is the holiday-themed snacks on offer, such as Frankfurter hot dogs, croissants and gingerbread cookies.
Starting from Dec. 1 and running through the month to Dec. 30, the events center KüçükÇiftlik Park will be hosting a Wonder Village winter holiday market, making it the biggest the city has seen so far. Open from noon till night every day except for Mondays, there will be gift stands, a carousel, ice skating, workshops and food stands serving up food from around the world. There are also many days on which leading performers will be taking the stage, such as Mirkelam, maNga, Flapper Swing, Kalben, Deniz Sipahi, Evdeki Saat, Can Gox, Adamlar, The Away Days, Jabbar, Yüksek Sadakat and Son Feci Bisiklet to name just a few.
Some performances will take place during daytime sessions, while others will be performing in the evening.
Circolo Roma is one of Istanbul’s oldest expat communities and the city’s Italian Cultural Center in Beyoğlu’s Asmalı Mescit. Every year, they hold a holiday market with gift stands, including products from Italy, and this year’s bazaar takes place on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a special lunch and a menu of takeaway items available from the Ristorante Italia housed in the Italian Cultural Center, which is Circolo Roma’s base.
IWI Winter Bazaar
Every year, the International Women of Istanbul holds a Winter Bazaar that is open to everyone. Taking place this year on Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dedeman Hotel in Gayrettepe, this is a festive annual event that brings together members of the foreign expat community and has gift stalls, a raffle and a visit from Santa!
Bodrum’s Christmas Festivities
Bodrum, which is both Türkiye’s most popular holiday destination as well as a major hub for expats who live there year-round, is a great place to be in the holiday season. The large and widespread expat community comes together to participate in Christmas Markets, fairs and events celebrating the holidays.
La Pasion’s X-Mas Fair
The fun begins this Sunday with the Spanish restaurant La Pasion’s traditional X-Mas party. La Pasion is a beautiful restaurant with a courtyard in the heart of Bodrum’s center on one of the cobblestone streets leading up from the sea. A popular venue amongst the expat community that regularly holds events, this weekend’s holiday celebrations will include gift stands, live music, special holiday treats and eats and will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Trafo Holiday Bazaar
Every year, locals and expat community members come together to hold a Holiday Bazaar at the Bodrum municipality’s café and event center, Trafo, located near the castle end of Bodrum’s bustling shopping district. It will take place on Sunday, Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be stands set up and holiday treats. Santa Claus will be on board to host kids in his grotto. The visit with Santa will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and it is recommended that spots be reserved beforehand.
Bitez Christmas book sale
On Sunday, Dec. 17, Bar Humbug in Bitez will host a Christmas Book Sale and Market from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be English-language books available, as well as homemade items such as jams and preserves. There will also be an X-Mas dinner with all the trimmings, as well as a vegetarian option that will start after the market at 2 p.m.
Getaway to Greece
The neighboring island of Kos, which is serviced regularly by fast ferries from Bodrum, will also be holding its annual Christmas Market this Sunday, Dec. 3. It is easy to visit for the day with the morning and afternoon ferry. Keep in mind that on Sundays the town generally shuts down. So there won’t be much shopping available outside of the market.