Bangarra Bangarra © Zorlu Theatre

What's on in Istanbul this September

So much art, so little time, that could be the motto for the month of September in Istanbul.

As the summer winds down and the city’s residents return from summers spent along the Aegean and Mediterranean, Istanbul's galleries and museums are staging new exhibitions and concert venues are opening their doors again. Even though there is so much to choose from, here are five events that are sure to please...

Dip your toes in ‘Saltwater’, the 14th Istanbul Biennal


The 14th instalment of the Istanbul Biennial is slated to be the grandest yet. Rather than occupying one or two large spaces, ‘Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms’ will take place in venues all over the city, from former banks and schools to garages, boats, gardens and private homes, among others. Not only will you contemplate the various forms and offshoots of salt water, the material that serves as the focal point of the biennial, when viewing the works on display, but you will also spend quite a bit of time in the presence of actual salt water as you travel across the Bosphorus from venue to venue.

This all-encompassing event is the highlight of Istanbul’s 2015 art calendar, so take a few days to really soak it in. The 14th Istanbul Biennial runs from Saturday 5 September until Sunday 1 November at various locations throughout the city. Admission is 

Related: What to pack for Istanbul

Set sail for an evening of jazz on the sea

Jazz on the seaJazz on the sea

The jazz scene in Istanbul may be incredibly rich, but who really wants to spend the summer months cooped up in a small, dark jazz bar? Luckily, there’s the ‘Jazz on the Sea’ (Denizde Caz) concert series: you can enjoy some of the city’s most famous jazz artists while cruising around the Bosphorus on a glamorous night cruise. The setting is intimate, the sea breeze is cool and the jazz music floats into the night air as tankers silently chug past; it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t want to disembark at the end of the night. 

The Sibel Köse Quintet will play on Friday 4 September, while Ülkü Aybala Sunat, Nilüfer Verdi and Apostolos Sideris will play on Saturday 19 September. All performances are held on The Primetime Cruise, which is docked at Cemil Topuzlu Parkı Rıhtımı, Şifayurdu, Kuruçeşme, Istanbul. Tickets are 140 TL and available on Biletix.

Related: 5 ways to escape the heat in Istanbul

Scope out some modern art on the shores of the Golden Horn

Rampa, Hera Buyuktasccyan, Up and Beyond (2014)Rampa, Hera Buyuktasccyan, Up and Beyond (2014)

ArtInternational, a relative newcomer to the Istanbul art scene, will be held for the third consecutive year at the Haliç Congress Centre. This modern art fair features galleries from over 25 different countries, so there is sure to be something for everyone. Most intriguing are the new works commissioned for the fair; for instance, New York and Istanbul-based artist Arslan Sukan, one of the seven artists tapped for these ArtIstanbul-specific works, will create a work that documents the parallels between the fashion and art scenes. Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September. Tickets are available

Related: 5 museums not to miss in Istanbul

Get in the ‘Spirit’ with Bangarra Dance Theatre


A troupe of 16 dances hailing from Australia, Bangarra Dance Theatre will perform ‘Spirit’, a program that includes some of their most iconic works at the Zorlu Performing Arts Centre. The group’s style marries thousands of years of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with contemporary movement, which results in alluring mix of dance, storytelling, theatre and music. The performances are part of the larger ‘Australia in Turkey 2015’ festival, which will run until the end of the year. Thursday 17 and Friday 18 September. Admission is free, but an invitation is required. For invitations, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +90 312 459

Related: Istanbul's best rooftop bars

Put on your best festival outfit for one last hurrah

People of Istanbul 1People of Istanbul

The summer concert season in Istanbul is winding down, but Superga is organising one more blow-out event: the People of Istanbul festival. English DJ and record producer Mark Ronson and Irish pop singer Róisín Murphy are the biggest draws, but smaller hip-hop acts like British R&B artist Kwabs and Turkish rap group Mode XL will make you want to arrive earlier rather than later. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, it may be September, but the Istanbul summer holds on for as long as it can. Saturday 19 September. Tickets are available on Biletix.

1 Jazz on the sea
2 ArtInternational
3 Bangarra Dance Theatre
4 People of Istanbul