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Ahirkapi Hidrellez Festival

Ahirkapi is located in Cankurtaran—one of the historical quarters of Istanbul and inhabited mainly by Romanies. The traditional Hidrellez celebrations in Ahirkapi have, in time, gained popularity and since the early 2000s, they have been opened to outside visitors. The celebrations start at the Sultanahmet Square in the evening of May 5th and then move towards the coast in Cankurtaran neighbourhood. Visitors and locals are entertained by Romani musicians while traditional foods and beverages are served by street vendors. The festival continues until late at night, usually ending with concerts.

The two distinct Hidrellez celebrations mentioned here are celebrations which have received great attention by tourists visiting Turkey in the recent years. Nevertheless, it must be added that Hidrellez is celebrated in many places of Turkey and by wide sections of the society. In fact, such celebrations as Hidrellez and Nevruz are examples of the intangible cultural heritage which reflects the deep-rooted and rich cultural background of Turkey. Likewise, Nevruz became one of the 11 assets of Turkey (a joint file with Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan) in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. In 2014, Turkey completed the process of application to the UNESCO for an Intangible Cultural Heritage Asset for “the Spring Bairam: Hidrellez/St. George’s Day”.

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