The vibrant Turkish mega-city, Istanbul, is fast-becoming as popular for its arts scene as it is for its unique historical heritage.
Istanbul,with a flying time of around five hours fromall GCC states, is also one of the most popular destinations for short-breaks from the region. The Turkish capitalis currently perked up with its annual Tulip festival, which over the last 10 years has become a major calendar highlight attracting millions of foreign visitors to the city.
Although the city on its own is an attractive destination, here is a list of extras that will soon get you packing your bags to Istanbul.
‘ISTANBUL MEETS ITS TULIPS’ and the travelerin you will meet yourideal destination, when the 'International Istanbul Tulip Festival 2015' unfurls at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Parks and Gardens Directorateon 11 April. The festival is slated to run to 3 Mayof this year.
The festival celebrates thousands of tulips blossom in gardens, squares and parks around Istanbul. Millions of tulips are being planted in parks around Istanbul as a part of the festival. Emirgan Park is currently home to 2,800,000 tulips of 192 different varieties, Göztepe 60 Year Park contains 1,187,000 tulips of 161 types, Gülhane Park contains 1,379,000 tulips of 86 different types and YÄ±ldÄ±z Park has 730,000 tulips of 32 types planted.
A ‘Tulip Carpet’, a first in the world, with over 545,000 tulips will be displayed as a floral carpetat the Sultanahmet Square during the event. Additionally, do not miss out on the several events being hostedby EmirganPark and Göztepe 60th Year Park during the festival.
Get your gear, go creative: A myriad of photography and painting exhibitions, held as a part of the annual Tulip Festival, turns tulips into subject models with photographs featuring tulips that blossom in every corner of the city competing with each other.
For the last nine years, the festival has witnessed various exhibitions, symposiums, live performances, shows and award ceremonies.Also, as is done each year, the most beautiful tulips of Istanbul are chosen as a part of the International Tulip Festival.
Grab your shopping carts and buy some of the exquisite tulips sold at sale points inEmirgan Park and Göztepe 60 Year Park, during the festival. Besides, you could also indulge in the latest fashion brands or explore the magical bazaars of Istanbul, out of the savings you have when travelling with the Turkish Airlines, as well as afford to spare a few dimes at the affordable luxury offers for the journey.
Entertainment has not taken a back seat; the festival hosts many artists and works of art; witness live concerts by Turkish bands, while inhaling the invigorating air of spring.
Turkish music bands as well as ‘Ebru’ marbling artists will offer a fun time to visitors with live performances at both of the main event venues throughout the festival.
Get sporty: Held for the first time in 2013, the Tulip Cup International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women's Tennis Tournament will bring tulips and sports together. Furthermore, the Istanbul Tulip Festival Intercollegiate Beach Football Tournament will take place as it does every year.
Apart from the Tulip festival, there are many places to visit and things to do in and around Istanbul, including:
Hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia: A lighter-than-air float gives an unrivalled perspective on the ‘fairy chimneys’ and other features of the landscape.
Whirling dervishes: Members of a sect founded by the Konya-based Sufi mystic Celaleddin Rumi conduct ’turning’ ceremonies to evoke union with God.
Baklava: The favorite dessert of the sweet-toothed Turks, rich, buttery baklava, in which thin layers of filo pastry are stuffed with pistachio or walnuts, is best enjoyed with a strong, black Turkish coffee.
Gallipoli Cemeteries and Memorials: Moving and unexpectedly beautiful legacy of one of the fiercest campaigns of World War I.
Cruising the Southwest Coast: The deeply indented coastline between Bodrum and Finike is the venue for multi-day cruises on a gullet, or traditional wooden motor-schooner.
Patara Beach: This unspoiled beach, one of the longest in the Mediterranean, is the perfect coda to a visit of the nearby, eponymous ancient city.
Kariye Museum: The finest collection of Byzantine mosaics and frescoes in Turkey, adorning an attractive church near the city’s land walls.
Kaçkar Daglari: Lying just inland from the Black Sea, this glacially sculpted granite mountain range, spangled with dozens of lakes, is Turkey’s premier trekking venue.
Aya Sofya: The seemingly unsupported dome of AyaSofya is one of the architectural marvels of the world.
If this gets your feet itchy, look out for the travel details including flight schedules or visit www.turkishairlines.com
EASY ON THE POCKET
Just before the scorching summer kicks-in full swing, a visit to Istanbul could be a memorable trip that could possibly cost you the least, at least for the flight part. Turkish Airlines is attracting GCC tourists to this beautiful city – especially visitors from Kuwait, who can now fly round-trip to Istanbul for only KD66.2 if they book their tickets by 26April.
The city is frequented by increasing number of GCC tourists and Turkey’s national flag carrier already witnessed a 6.44 percent increase in passenger traffic from the GCC. This upward growth trend isexpected to be sustained through the continued success of campaigns like the International Istanbul Tulip Festival.