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Upcoming Art Events in Istanbul This Fall

Istanbul is a metropolis of contrasts, that embraces different cultures, perspectives, and lifestyles by projecting these differences through art. It is the center of art gatherings and exhibitions, music festivals, and theatrical plays. Activities in every branch, from well-established artists' subjects based on historical significance to subjects arising from the independent perspectives of newly established artists. Of course, fall honors the opening of this series of wanderings each year, driven by the captivating autumn nature and the fantasies it brings along. Here is a list of the well-known events taking place in Istanbul this fall.

Opening of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet:

The İstanbul State Opera and Ballet is beginning the new season this September with a special “Season Opening Night”. It will take place on the 27th of September at Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, and İbrahim Yazıcı will be in charge as the orchestra chief while Volkan Akkoç will be chief of the chorus. The spectacle will cover a selection compiled of famous operas such as “Don Giovanni”, “Il Trovatore”, “Lucia di Lammermoor”, “Otello”, “Cavalleria Rusticana”, “Aida”, “Faust”, “La Bohème”, “Carmen” as well as ballet pieces such as “Giselle”, “La Bayadère” and “Don Quixote”.

Akbank Jazz Festival:

A snapshot from the Istanbul Jazz Festival

The 33rd edition of the Akbank Jazz Festival begins on the 23rd of September and continues until the 8th of October. Being one of the most renowned jazz festivals nationwide, the Akbank Jazz Festival plays a vital role in the development of jazz culture in Türkiye. Every year the festival gathers famous jazz musicians from all around the world and gives a platform to talented young stars to reach a larger audience. This year, the festival is going to be hosted in various venues such as Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Arter, Babylon, Yeldeğirmeni Art Center, and Zorlu PSM. Although many extraordinary artists will perform throughout the festival, some of the must-see concerts for jazz lovers are Ozan Musluoğlu Quartet ft. Kerem Görsev at Alan Kadıköy, Gabi Hartmann at Babylon, Terence Blanchard ft. the E-Collective with Turtle Island Quartet at Zorlu PSM, and Zoe Rahman Trio "Colour of Sound" at Akbank Sanat. In addition to concerts, you can participate in interview sessions such as “Afro-Cuban Jazz: Tarihi ve Bugünü” and “Türkiye Caz Ağı Paneli: Müzik Yoluyla Mekânı Kavramak” (Afro Cuban Jazz: "History and Present" and "Turkish Jazz Network Panel: Understanding the Space through Music”).


The film festival called Filmekimi is held annually by IKSV (Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation) and will take place from the 13th to the 22nd of October. The festival, identified with October, will meet movie lovers with the 22nd edition this year. Although not all movies have been announced yet, IKSV has started announcing some such as May December by Todd Heynes, Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki, and Le livre des Solutions by Michel Gondry. Although all films are highly anticipated, Fallen Leaves especially stands out as it won the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, described as a heart-warming and melancholic rom-com.

Istanbul Theater Festival:

After the film and jazz festival, IKSV will host the 27th edition of the Istanbul Theater Festival from the 25th of October to the 25th of November. Through the one-month festival, art lovers will be able to watch many plays. The festival's opening will be with Pina Bausch’s masterpiece Café Müller on the 25th of October at Zorlu PSM. The piece is a dance choreography performance that reflects Bausch’s experiences in her family’s café in Germany during the post-war period. It will be performed in Türkiye for the first time and is a must-see play of the festival. The other outstanding plays include Hofesh Shechter Company: Double Murder, Sisters by Wajdi Mouawad, and Freak by Güray Dinçol. The plays will be performed at various venues from Zorlu PSM to Alan Kadıköy.

Contemporary Istanbul 2023:

Visitors at the 15th Contemporary Istanbul

Contemporary, which forms the title of the exhibition, means up-to-date. The audience, who will witness the experience for the 18th time this year, can be certain that the exhibition prosperously reflects the meaning of its name. Contemporary Istanbul is pleased to announce the list of exhibitors taking part this year, held over four days from 28 September to 1 October with two preview days on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th. The essential co-partner of Contemporary Istanbul is Akbank as always. Taking place in the historic district of Tersane Istanbul on the grounds of a former Ottoman-era shipyard on the shores of the Golden Horn, the fair features 75 galleries and initiatives from 22 countries. A strong line-up of galleries from Europe and the Middle East is joined by leading galleries from South America, Africa, East Asia, and the USA.

"Etiketsiz" by Sinem Sezgin Bozkurt


Artweeks has managed to maintain its validity from 2018 to the present day. It will be held for the 7th time this year with the organization of Bilgili Holding and Sabiha Kurtulmuş hosting the most current works of contemporary artists from Türkiye and around the world at Akaretler Sıraevler. Artweeks has become a prominent platform for Istanbul art life by gathering together Türkiye's leading galleries and collectors. It has reached its current position and reputation since it is not limited merely to its exhibitions. The formation manages to make us feel art in every sense from sight to hearing. Some examples of this year’s exhibitions include “Öktem Aykut”, “x-ist”, “Ambidexter”, “Art On”, “Mine Sanat Gallery”, “Mercade”, “Gallery Nev İstanbul”, “Anna Laudel”, “Gallery Bosfor”, “Vision Art Platform”, “Pi Artworks”, “MERKUR”, “PİLEVNELİ”, “Ferda Art Platform”, “Martch Art Project”, “SANATORIUM”, “The Empire Project”, “Galeri 77”, “The Pill”, “Versus”, Mixer”, “Labirent”, “KRANK Art Galery”, “Büyükdere 35”, “Difo Art”, “Onearc Gallery”, and “Artweeks Lounge”. The galleries are divided into marked floors and rooms. The pieces that rely on our sense of hearing include collective art conversations as well as virtual reality glasses that provide a three-dimensional experience.

Photography Exhibiton “Timişoara”:

Timişoara is a city in Romania, renowned as the "cultural capital of Europe". The exhibition is presented as the subtitle of the Romanian Culture Days theme for September, comprising the hard work of professional photographer Adrian Pîclișan with a prolonged career. His photographs were published in prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post. There are collaborations with all major international press organizations such as Associated Press, France Presse, and European Press Agency. Although it is too late now for the exhibition itself which took place on September 6th & 10th, it is estimated that it will be repeated in Istanbul or recorded.

Istanbul is filled with art every fall. For anyone who has spent years here or is just newly discovering it, our suggestion would be not to miss out on these spectacular events which are a great escape from the loudness of the city.

Works cited:

Oggusto, Sezonun En İyi Tiyatro Oyunları and İstanbul Etkinlik Rehberi: Eylül 2023 by Gizem Çıldız

Edited by:

Simay Cemre Tulubaş, Yağmur Ece Nisanoğlu

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