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Islamic Holidays in Turkey

Islamic holidays arrive according to the lunar Hijri calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the common solar (Gregorian) year. Islamic holidays begin at sunset on the evening of the first day; the first day then lasts until sunset on the following day.

The two most important Islamic holidays are Kurban Bayramı and Ramazan, which also contain national public holidays. They may affect your travel plans, so you should know when they occur and how they affect travel.

Minor Islamic festivals such as kandils are not disruptive, just interesting and fun.

Islamic holidays begin at sundown, last until sundown on the following calendar day, and the important public holidays are usually preceded by a half-day vacation called arife(“preparation”). Offices, banks and businesses may close at noon on the day of arife, with the festivities beginning at sunset.

Ramazan

 

 

Silhouette of Istanbul’s Rüstem Pasha Mosque in Eminönü on the Golden Horn.

Many Turks fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramazan(RAH-mah-zahn, called Ramadan in other countries). Restaurants are less busy at lunch, and there’s even less Turkish tea in evidence (which is amazing). More…

Kurban Bayramı

Called Eid el-Adha or Eid el-Kebir in Arabic, Kurban Bayrami (koor-BAHN bahy-rah-muh) is the most important Islamic religious festival of the year, and a 4 or 5-daypublic holiday in Turkey. More…

(For an account of a memorable Kurban Bayramı I spent in Eastern Turkey, see Eastern Sacrifice.)

Minor Islamic Festivals

Festivals such as Aşure GünüMevlid-i Nebi, and the kandils are not public holidays, but mosques are illuminated, special foods and treats are prepared, and you can participate, actively or passively, in the celebrations. You should at least know the dates so you understand what’s going on. More…

For month-by-month details of weather, holidays, festivals and tourist seasons, see Tom’s Turkish Almanac.

Holiday Hours of Operation

As state above, Islamic holidays begin at sunset. Many offices close early in the afternoon of the first day for “preparation” (arife) to get ready for the start of the holiday.

Government and business offices are closed on at least the first full day (sunset to the next sunset) of multi-day official religious holidays. Sights of interest to visitors such as museums are usually closed in the morning on the first full day, but may open after lunch in the afternoon.

Markets such as Istanbul‘s Grand Bazaar and Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar may be closed on the first day of multi-day religious holiays.

On subsequent days of multi-day religious holidays, most museums, markets and similar sites will be open during their regular hours.

—by Tom Brosnahan


National Holidays Short List

Tom’s Turkish Almanac

When to Go

Best 7- to 10-Day Turkey Tours

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Climatic Regions

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