5 events you can’t miss this winter in Istanbul

The outdoor events on warm summer nights have come to an end, and the evenings are getting colder and longer. The temptation to stay at home, cooped up in your onesie to binge watch HBO TV shows…is… well…tempting. But alas:

Winter is coming!

And, there’s some fantastic events  in Istanbul that you must check out to warm the cockles of your heart.

Ladies and gentlemen,  I present the five events you can’t miss this winter in Istanbul.

1. Spoken Word


Spoken Word‘s promotional image for the November 11 event.


Spoken Word is where words happen. It’s where writers, poets, stand-up comedians, musicians, actors, activists – anybody and everybody – can take to the stage to recite creative works of their own, or of others.

The rustic setting at Arsen Lupen (Miss Sokak, 15/4, Taksim) provides an intimate setting for people to perform for up to eight minutes, in any language, to an uber supportive crowd.

The open-mic format kicks off around 8pm and promises a few laughs, some intrigue and thought provoking performances by Istanbul’s bravest souls (a.k.a. public speakers).

The last two events were graced by some impressive orations. One of which was by Mariah K. Hamang, a poet with an enormous talent for crafting words that touch the heart. She, like so many of the performers, captured our interest and fascinated the crowd from the get go.

I won’t publish all her work here because it’s worthy of publishing in a medium far greater than my little blog! But, here’s a few lines from one poem – an example of the talent at Spoken Word, and a snippet of Mariah’s touching work that sticks with me even today.  To read more of Mariah’s poems visit BlazeVOX or Otoliths.

Screenshot (115)

For details of the next event, follow Spoken Word on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpokenWordIstanbul

(Get there early for a good seat!)


2. Take Me Up The Bosphorus

Take me Up the Bosphorus

Asli Akbay, stand-up comedian and creator of Take Me Up the Bosphorus


“Take me where?” you may ask inquisitively.  Yes, this quirky, mischievous and somewhat suggestive title offers a tease of what’s to come at Istanbul’s newest stand-up comedy night.

There’s plenty of fun and frivolity to be had and the good news is (for us expats who are yet to master Turkish) – it’s in English. And, if the stand-up acts at Spoken Word by creator, Aslı Akbay are anything to go by, the comedy nights will certainly tickle your fancy!!!

Aslı started doing stand-up comedy when she lived in London and thankfully, for us comedy-cravers of Istanbul, she continues to tread the stage here.

Take me up the Bosphorus brings Aslı, and fellow rib-tickling Turkish and international comedians together in venues around the city. As Aslı confesses: “Stand-up really is something that you cannot shake off when you start.” On reflection, I think that statement goes for the crowd and performers alike!

Those interested in English stand-up comedy in Istanbul can follow the event page at: www.facebook.com/takemeupthebosphorus


3. IWI Christmas Charity Festival

Christmas Charity Festival

The International Women of Istanbul (IWI) have once again prepared a Christmas extravaganza of activities that will take place on November 29, 2015 at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus, Harbiye. The festival is open from 10am to 5pm to anyone and everyone seeking some pre-Christmas cheer.

Go along and do a spot of shopping, keep the kids amused with children’s entertainment, and indulge in the international food court, raffles, and other activities. There’s even caroling, gifts for kids from Father Christmas, and a mistletoe to tug your Christmas heartstrings right in the centre of Istanbul.

Christmas Charity Program

The  loveliest gift of all is, the IWI Charity Christmas Festival raises money for those in need. All net proceeds go to the IWI supported charities. For more details and to buy tickets for the event visit:  www.facebook.com/events/1655445834731049/


4. Cheese & Cheers

It’s back! The Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet have recommenced their popular Cheese & Cheers wine tasting night every Friday, from 7pm to 10pm.

Hotel guests, Istanbul visitors and residents are all welcome to chill out in this five-star hotel’s elegant lounge that’s set against a lush winter garden.

Over several hours, you can gastro-travel through a selection of Turkey’s best local and imported wines accompanied with a buffet of cheeses produced from the far reaches of Anatolia.

A different winery is featured every week, and a wine expert is on stand-by to explain the wines you’re drinking and the regions they’re grown in. And, for a very reasonable price of 65TL per person, it’s the ideal setting to enjoy a little indoor luxury on those cold wintry nights.

For more information visit: www.fourseasons.com/istanbul


5. Internations

Expat only

The next Expat-only Internations event is at The Raffles Hotel Istanbul, Zorlu Centre on December 8, 2015


An old faithful, and responsible for creating many new friendships, Internations has a plethora of socialising opportunities – all advertised on their website. The free-for-all Internations party is a huge gathering for all nationalities and walks of life, though if you’re an expat, the expat-only Internations events offers a quieter vibe.

Internations also has a range of special interests groups you can connect and mingle with. Groups for bowling, running, eating, partying, travelling and more are available. Take a look. There will be a group just for you to discover more of this amazing city and the people in it.

Visit www.internations.org for more information.


Don’t forget events around town are also published on reliable websites such as The Guide Istanbul, Timeout Istanbul, MyMerhaba and my personal favourite, Yabangee.com. Biletex is also a great site to browse and buy tickets for major events in the city.

If you have an event you think the expat community need to hear about in Istanbul this winter (or next year) then do drop me a line:  expatinistanbul@gmail.com