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Turkish national public holidays include international public holidays, important dates in the nation’s history and major religious events. On these days banks, administration offices, schools, government offices and some businesses are closed. Although government and many private museums are closed, tourist centres such as Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir and Bodrum can be extremely busy as many Turks take the opportunity to have a short break. This is especially the case when the holiday is being held to celebrate a religious occasion. During the two main ones, Kurban Bayramı and Şeker Bayramı it’s obligatory for family members to visit one another, so interstate flights, buses and trains will be heavily booked. If you’re planning to travel to Turkey during these periods it’s advisable to book interstate flights, buses, tours and accommodation well in advance. If driving, roads are busier than usual. To help you plan your trip here’s a list of Turkey national public holidays for 2016.
List of Turkish Holidays 2016
1 January: New Year’s Day
23 April: National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (1)
1 May: Labor and Solidarity Day (2)
19 May: Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day (3)
6 June – 4 July: Holy Month of Ramazan
5 – 7 July: Şeker Bayramı – a feast of chocolates and Turkish delight
30 August: Victory Day (4)
11 – 15 September: Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayramı)
28 October: Republic Day Eve
29 October: Republic day (5)
- National Sovereignty & Children’s Day
Solemn ceremonies and children’s festivals take place throughout Turkey on National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı), held on April 23 each year. This commemoration of the first opening of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey at Ankara in 1920 sees children take seats in the Turkish Parliament and symbolically govern the country for one day. Elsewhere school children march in unison bearing Turkish flags, people attend local ceremonies or lay wreaths at monuments of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
- Labour & Solidarity Day
In Turkey, Labour and Solidarity Day (Emek ve Dayanışma Günü), internationally known as May Day, is an occasion for people to celebrate labour improvements and to demand better conditions for skilled labourers and union workers. Unfortunately, in recent years peaceful demonstrations have turned ugly. In Istanbul much of the public transport system is shut down to prevent large gatherings so it’s wise to plan your movements accordingly.
- Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day
Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (Atatürk’ü Anma Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı), includes state ceremonies and sports events throughout the country on May 19 each year. Although the exact date of Atatürk’s birth isn’t known, many Turks celebrate May 19 as his birthday, because Atatürk used to say he was born on that day. Many people lay wreaths on his monuments and hang Turkish flags, some featuring his profile, from their windows.
- Victory Day
Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı) commemorates the crucial Turkish triumph against Greek forces in the Battle of Dumlupınar (August 26-30, 1922). The outcome of this battle helped determine the overall outcome of the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). Shops, public offices, hotels and people’s houses are awash with Turkish flags, and military parades and ceremonies at monuments to Atatürk are held.
- Republic Day
Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı) marks the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The Turkish parliament proclaimed the new Turkish state a republic after the nation’s victory in the War of Independence. A new constitution was adopted on October 29, 1923, replacing the constitution of the Ottoman Empire. On the same day Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the country’s first president. On Republic Day people go to theatre, poetry and traditional Turkish dance performances dedicated to the Republic of Turkey. Parades are held in some towns and cities, people lay wreaths in memory of Atatürk and in the evening many cities hold traditional processions with flags and musical bands, ending the night with firework displays.