Festivals in Northern Cyprus include national holidays, Bellapais music festival, Famagusta art festival, Kyrenia jazz festival and more.
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St Barnabas Monastery
St Barnabas Monastery
photo by: Matthew Hoskin
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North Cyprus Festivals

North Cyprus National Holidays

Turkish Cypriots love to celebrate their country’s history, and many holidays are based around important events in North Cyprus’ history, such as Independence Day (15 November), Victory Day (30 August) and TMT Day (1 August). As a nation of predominantly Muslims, Turkish Cypriots celebrate major religious holidays, such as Kurban Bayrami and Seker Bayrami.

1 January - New Year's Day
23 April - Children's Day
1 May - Labour Day
19 May - Youth and Sports Day
20 July - Peace and Freedom Day
30 August - Victory Day
29 October - Turkish Republic Day
15 November - Northern Cyprus Republic Day

Northern Cyprus religious festivals of Kurban Bayrami and Seker Bayrami
Kurban Bayrami celebrates the sacrifice by Abraham of his son Isaac, and during the festival each family sacrifices an animal, which then becomes the main dish at a big family gathering. Since Muslim festival timings are calculated by a lunar calendar, each festival is at a different time each year, approximately three weeks on from the previous year’s festival dates.

The North Cyprus festival of Seker Bayrami is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the 30 day long fast observed by most Muslims. It is also called the Sugar Festival because of all the sweet foods that are eaten!

The Bellapais Music Festival

Bellapais Music Festival
Bellapais Music Festival
photo by: Anonymous
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Top of the list for any classical music lover in North Cyprus must be the Bellapais Music Festival, which runs during May each year. Classical concerts are held in the magnificent Bellapais Abbey Refectory Hall, which has excellent acoustics and are highly atmospheric. The Bellapais Music Festival attracts international ensembles and soloists to perform in North Cyprus, and tickets sell out fast for the 9pm performances. One performer commented that: “Bellapais is different. The Abbey is alive with its architecture, illumination, acoustics, with its village and hospitable villagers, pubs and restaurants. Here, history is alive, and is a common treasure of all of us.”

Website: www.bellapaisfestival.com

The International Famagusta Culture and Art Festival

Every July, the International Famagusta Culture and Art Festival presents a wide variety of events in the ancient theatre at Salamis in Famagusta. The 2006 programme, for example, featured Eurovision Song Contest winner and Turkish superstar Sertab Erener, a reggae concert, a tango dance show and the intriguingly-titled “Beatles go Baroque”!

The International Cyprus Theatre Festival

This celebration of theatre runs from mid August to the beginning of September, and stages performances in Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia venues, including the theatre at Salamis and the Ataturk Cultural Centre, North Cyprus. The 2006 programme included the Istanbul State Theatre and the Ankara State Theatre presenting Turkish works, plus international companies such as the Questa Nave Theatre of Venice. Classic international plays presented included Brecht’s “Mother Courage”, Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” and Dario Fo’s farce “Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!”

The Kyrenia Jazz Festival

Every December, the Rocks Hotels plays host to the Kyrenia Jazz festival. This festival is growing year by year, and can now attract international players to entertain the many jazz fans in North Cyprus.

Other North Cyprus Festivals

The celebrations on Peace Day (20 July) often include cultural events. There are also various food-related festivals, such as the Guzelyurt Orange Festival, the Watermelon festival and the Karpas Grape Festival.  In the past, North Cyprus has also hosted an international film festival, a jazz festival and many other events so it’s worth keeping your eyes open for what’s going on during your holiday in North Cyprus.