The Istanbul Tulip Festival is a colorful annual event that takes place in the spring. In the middle of spring, Istanbul looks most colorful – at this time, tulips bloom in large parks of the city. A special celebration is dedicated to this colorful and picturesque time of the year.
Over the entire festival period, more than 3 million tulips, about a hundred varieties, are planted in Istanbul parks.
The festival is not just planting tulips in iconic places and city parks. Floral patterns change every year. For local park designers, creating flower arrangements in flowerbeds is a real art form.
Tulip Festival Highlights
- Dates: Second half of March, April and early May
- Turkish name: Istanbul Lale Festivali
- Opening Ceremony: Emirgan Park in Sariyer European District.
- Venues. Dozens of parks throughout Istanbul prepare for the holiday each year, including Yıldız, Göztepe and Beykoz Korusu parks. The main platform in the center of Istanbul is the Gulhane Park.
- The best time to visit the festival: the second, third and fourth weeks of April. Festival tulips continue to bloom in the first week of May.
The average air temperature in Istanbul in April is 19-20°C during the day and 11°C at night.
For a visit, it is better to choose the first days of the Tulip Festival in Istanbul, when the largest number of tulips bloom, and their buds are still fresh and tender. It is recommended to visit flower places in the morning on weekdays. On weekends and in the evening, the parks are filled not only with tourists, but also with local residents. During the festival, the main venues are open from 11:00 to 20:00.
Venues for the Tulip Festival
Massive places of flowering tulips with decorated flower beds are located in different parts of the city. The most popular photo spots for tourists and locals who want to see flower carpets in April are in Emirgan and Gulhane parks, as well as on Sultanahmet Square.
Emirgan Park with an area of 470,000 sq.m. is a landmark venue for the festival. Here the largest number of tulips are planted: the flower beds are artistically decorated with floral patterns and bright color combinations. Every year, in the spring, several million buds of different colors bloom here. Emirgan Park hosts themed events dedicated to the festival, tulip fairs. The park is perfect for a relaxing day and a break from the hustle and bustle of the central streets.
The huge space of one of the most attractive squares for tourists, Sultanahmet, is planted with a real flower carpet in April. Here they hold colorful photo shoots, stop for a picnic or just admire the flowers.
Several hundred thousand tulips (every year the number approaches the mark of 1 million tulip bulbs) bloom in another large Istanbul park – Gulhane, also located in the tourist center.
In April, the main attraction of the park is a huge panel of tulips. After tulips, during the warm season, irises, roses and other flowers are planted in a similar way.
Tulips are also massively planted in the following parks in Istanbul:
- Goethepe park;
- forest park zone Yildiz;
- Beykoz park;
- park on Chamlyk hill.
Activities during the Tulip Festival
In addition to a leisurely inspection of the decorated flower beds and meadows, visitors to the festival in Emirgan Park are invited to participate in various thematic events. Photo works dedicated to the festival are exhibited at the park stands – in chronological order, photographs from the first years of the event to the present day are exhibited. At the local fair, you can buy bulbs and seeds of rare varieties of tulips.
In addition to events and workshops related to flowers, calligraphy and glass blowing classes are held: you can make your own Turkish tulip cup for drinking tea. On different days, performances of musical and dance groups with national flavor are held in open areas.
For numerous visitors, cafes are opened in Emirgan Park during the festival, where you can buy a snack. Lunch is offered as a buffet for 25 TL per person. It is also worth visiting the small tulip museum here – it is open every day except Monday. Admission to the Tulip Museum is free. The exposition, which tells about the history of the tulip, its role in folklore and art, is small.
History of the Tulip Festival in Istanbul
Many mistakenly consider Holland to be the birthplace of tulips. But, long before appearing in Europe, tulips were cultivated in Arab countries. As historians managed to establish, the very first mention of the tulip bulb was found in the documents of Persia. But it was in Turkey that their mass cultivation began. Local gardeners competed to bring out the most outlandish flower. This is how the famous Ottoman tulip turned out. It is a bright scarlet flower with pointed petals.
Further, the Turks brought tulips to Europe, and the inhabitants of Holland especially liked the flowers there. Despite the fact that the Dutch later developed many new varieties and made tulip fields their hallmark, the same flower is still one of the symbols of Istanbul. The image of a tulip can be found everywhere: on souvenirs, in floral ornaments on the walls of mosques, or as decoration on ceramics.
The history of the Tulip Festival in Istanbul dates back to 2006. The festival was organized as a tribute to the centuries-old labor of cultivating this beautiful flower. For almost 15 years of existence, the Tulip Festival in Istanbul has become one of the city’s calling cards and a landmark spring event. Over the entire period of the event, gardeners planted more than 100 million tulip bulbs in local parks. Most of the tulips for the spring event are grown in Konya, but there are also varieties from around Istanbul.
How to get to Istanbul Tulip Festival venues
Emirgan Park, the venue for most of the events dedicated to the spring flowering, is located at a distance from the center, not far from the coast of the Bosphorus. Since the park is located in a hilly area, it is more comfortable to get to its upper entrance. Stops in this part: “İstinye Bayırı” or “Tokmak Burnu”. Buses No. 22RE, 29M2, 29S, 40B, 41C, 42 run to stops.
The lower entrance from the city center can be reached with a transfer. First, take the T1 tram from Sultanahmet Square to the final stop (“Kabataş”). Then take bus number 22 from “Kabataş” to the lower entrance (stop “Emirgan”). Bus routes No. 22RE, 25E, 40, 40T, 42T, 59RH also stop here.
The most enjoyable way to get to Emirgan Park is by ferry. In this case, your destination will be the pier of the same name (in Turkish the name is written as “Emirgan”), located 600 meters from the lower entrance to the park. Another option is the İstinye pier. This option is chosen less often, since you will have to walk 1 km from the pier to the upper entrance. Ferries in the direction of Emirgan Park depart from the piers: Eminönü, Beşıktaş, Arnavutköy.
Tram T1 also runs to Gülhane Park (Gülhane istasyonu stop). By bus, you can get to the Sarayburnu stop, located near the park from the waterfront. Routes No. 81, BN1 stop here. Sultanahmet Square (Sultanahmet stop) can be reached by tram T1.
Taxis in Istanbul are most often taken on the street. But you can also order a taxi through mobile applications or order taxi online.