Istanbul Puppetry Festival Istanbul Puppetry Festival

What's on in Istanbul this October

Puppetry, literary festivals, jazz concerts and tons and tons of coffee: Istanbul is abuzz this autumn

The temperatures may be falling in Istanbul, but the arts scene is just starting to heat up. Now that life in the city is in full swing and the serene days of summer are slowly fading into mere memories, there is a flurry of festivals, exhibitions and performances. You will be spoilt with choice almost every night of the week. We’ve gone through and put together a list of October’s most tantalising events. Without further ado...

Get wired at the Istanbul Coffee Festival

Coffee-Festival© Istanbul Coffee Festival

Held in the majestic Haydarpaşa Train Station, the Istanbul Coffee Festival is the perfect meeting spot for people who love coffee in all its forms. Many of the city’s third wave coffee shops – which are rapidly increasing in number – will be on hand to serve coffee and lead interactive workshops on topics such as brewing methods. There will also be food, live music, art exhibitions and shopping booths. Even if you’re not a coffee fiend, this festival is the perfect excuse to explore the Haydarpaşa Train Station; this iconic Istanbul landmark stopped functioning as a train station in 2012 and is soon set to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The Istanbul Coffee Festival runs from Thursday 22 October to Sunday 25 October at the Haydarpaşa Train Station. Tickets can be purchased from Biletix.

Related: A guide to Turkish tea & coffee

Enjoy an evening of smooth jazz at the Akbank Jazz Festival

belle-and-sebastianBelle and Sebastian

Although it may seem like an odd pairing, Istanbul and jazz go together. The city’s residents are crazy about their jazz, and there are multiple jazz festivals that take place each year. This October will see the 25th edition of the Akbank Jazz Festival, and it looks to be the most ambitious yet. Not only does the programme feature a wide range of musicians like Manu Katché, Carmen Lundy, Moriarty and Belle & Sebastian, but there are also a number of workshops on offer for those who are looking to deepen their knowledge of this invigorating art form. The Akbank Jazz Festival runs from Wednesday 21 October to Sunday 1 November at various venues throughout the city. Tickets can be purchased from Biletix.

Related: What to pack for Istanbul

Take in a film at the 14th Filmekimi Festival

14-filmekimi-mustang© Filmekimi

Missed out on Cannes this year? The 14th Filmekimi Festival has you covered. Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), this festival screens many of the critical darlings that competed at Cannes, Sundance and the Venice Film Festival. In addition to numerous foreign-language films – a rarity in Istanbul – the festival also features films from a few select Turkish filmmakers. Most notably, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut film Mustang, which is France’s entry to the 2016 Oscars, will screen for the first time in Turkey. A coming-of-age story about five sisters living in a conservative Turkish town, Mustang has received rave reviews and is a highlight of the festival. The 14th Filmekimi Festival runs from Friday 2 October to Sunday 11 October at various cinemas. Tickets can be purchased from Biletix.

Related: Juice bars in Istanbul

Get lost in the intrigue of Black Week

agatha-christieAgatha Christie

Built for the express purpose of hosting passengers of the Orient Express, the Pera Palace Hotel has had its share of famous guests. One such guest was the crime writer Agatha Christie, who wrote her best-selling novel Murder on the Orient Express while staying in Room 411 of the hotel. In honour of the 125th anniversary of her birth, the hotel will be hosting a literature festival entitled Black Week. Acclaimed mystery writers like Alexander McCall Smith and Ahmet Ümit will discuss topics ranging from female detectives to crime fiction in popular culture. Crime, mystery, intrigue – this festival has got it all! Black Week runs from Thursday 22 October to Saturday 24 October at the Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah. Entry is free of charge, but the opening ceremony on Thursday 22 October is only open to guests of the hotel.

Related: What to do with children in Istanbul

Feel like a kid again at the 18th Istanbul Puppetry Festival

istanbul-puppetry-festivalIstanbul Puppetry Festival

Whoever said puppets are just for kids? The 18th Istanbul Puppetry Festival shows that the imagination and playfulness of puppetry is suitable for all ages. Featuring troupes from all over the world, the festival deals with subjects as complex and philosophical as Don Quixote, and as light as cabaret. Whether you decide to go for something darker or more light-hearted, each performance will provide a visual feast and demonstrate how puppetry has transformed into a form of theatre that can speak directly to adult audiences. The Istanbul Puppetry Festival runs from Tuesday 13 October to Sunday 25 October at various locations throughout the city. Tickets can be purchased from this link, although entry to some shows is free of charge.

1 Puppetry Festival
2 Istanbul Coffee Festival
3 Istanbul Jazz Festival
4 Black Week