The Spring season is in bloom which means only one thing; it’s time for the Istanbul Tulip Festival, or Lale Festivali in Turkish. This annual event takes place during the last three weeks of April and into early May.
Istanbul’s yearly Tulip Festival is a tribute to the colors of spring in Turkey and welcomes thousands of visitors to its parks and gardens, to witness the thousands of tulips of various hues bloom.
It can be a busy time in Istanbul during the Tulip Festival, especially as it coincides with Ramadan in 2023, but it’s also the best time to see the city’s parks and gardens in their ultimate glory, turning Istanbul into a vibrant and multicolored paradise.
Planning a trip to Istanbul last-minute?
Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!
Here is our recommended airport transfer in Istanbul:
- Airport Shuttle From Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gocken International Airport (SAW) (Super affordable!)
Here are our recommended tours in Istanbul:
- Luxury Bosphorus Cruise At Sunset (A must-do In Istanbul)
- Whirling Dervishes Show (Unique experience!)
- Historical Turkish Bath Experience
- Istanbul Food And Culture Tour
Here are our recommended places to stay in Istanbul:
What is the Istanbul Tulip Festival?
The Istanbul Tulip Festival is an annual event that runs from mid-April to mid-May, proudly showcasing the tulip as an important local symbol in Turkish culture.
The festival was started in 2005 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
The exact dates of the festival are unspecified, as the festival begins on the first bloom of the tulip. It’s usually expected to begin in the last three weeks of April and into early May.
Every year the city kicks off the festival by planting millions of tulips in its parks, public spaces, and public gardens. Most of the tulips are produced in the town of Konya and transported to the city at the end of March/beginning of April.
The record number of tulips planted so far was in 2016 when an estimated number of 30 million tulips were planted.
The planting of tulips is not done at random. The tulips are planted in rows, with the earliest varieties planted at the beginning and the later varieties planted later.
It takes around three weeks to plant all the bulbs and Istanbul will bloom for a full month afterward.
The History of the Tulip in Turkey
The tulip has been an essential part of Turkish culture since the Ottoman Empire. Though many think of The Netherlands when they think of tulips, these colorful flowers were first grown in Turkey.
However, since the sixteenth century, tulip bulbs have spread across Europe. It is believed that Charles de L´Ecluse, a botanist and professor at the University of Leiden in Holland, bought the bulbs back from Turkey and grew them in his private garden.
Then one day, hundreds of bulbs were stolen from his garden, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Despite being grown all over the world now, the tulip is still an important part of Turkey’s culture. They have been a symbol of beauty, luxury, and wealth, and even became the national flower of Turkey.
Today, one of the things that Istanbul is most known for is the Tulip Festival.
What Are the Best Parks to See the Tulip Festival in 2023?
The Istanbul Tulip Festival takes place across numerous parks and public spaces throughout the city. The following are some of the best parks to explore during the tulip festival.
Located in the Sariyer district of Istanbul, Emirgan Park stands out as one of the most popular parks to visit during the Tulip Festival.
There are several reasons why you should visit this beautiful park this time of year. Firstly, it’s one of the most expansive parks in Istanbul and has a display of over 120 different types of tulips.
As well as tulips, the park has a vast array of other beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees that create a stunning backdrop to the tulips.
The park also offers various cultural events, such as music and dance performances which take place from pop-up stages, as well as traditional craft-making workshops. If you’re looking for somewhere that provides more festivities, then visiting Emirgan Park is a must-do during the tulip festival season in Istanbul.
Activities organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality as part of the Tulip Festival in different parts of the city will continue until April 30.
Gülhane Park, which is situated near the Topkapi Palace Museum, is another ideal spot to see the tulips during the festival.
The park is small, but it boasts a display of over 50,000 tulips of various colors, shades, and styles.
This is a relaxing park where visitors can also find historical ruins and fountains set amongst the decorative tulip displays in the park when they visit.
Yıldız Park is one of Istanbul’s most extensive parks, making it a great place to enjoy the Tulip Festival. The park features displays of various types of tulips in different hues, providing a spectacular sight for visitors.
Yıldız Park is also a great spot to go for a walk, picnic, or visit historic Ottoman-era pavilions.
Whenever there is a festival or important event taking place, you can bet there is something happening at Sultanahmet Square, which connects the Blue Mosque to the Hippodrome.
This is famously the spot where the record-breaking ‘tulip carpet’ was planted in 2015.
Over on the Asian side of Istanbul is Camlica Hill Park, which leads up to the Camlica Mosque – the largest mosque in Istanbul.
The park has incredible scenic views of Istanbul from above and has playgrounds for kids to enjoy and lots of lawn space for picnics.
During the tulip festival, you will see thousands of tulips planted along the path that leads up the hill.
FAQs About the Istanbul Tulip Festival
Here’s what people usually ask us about this festival in Istanbul…
How long does the Tulip Festival last?
The festival lasts for about a month, usually taking place throughout the month of April. In Emirgan Park, one of the major parks taking part in the festival, you can expect festivities to operate until the 30th of April.
Is it worth going to Tulip Festival?
The thing with the Tulip Festival is that it’s not so much an event, but a time of year when you can enjoy the tulips in bloom. It’s worth visiting a park if you are in Istanbul in April to see it, however, it’s not worth visiting Istanbul just to see it in my opinion.
Where is the best place to see the Tulip Festival in Istanbul?
Emirgan Korusu (Emirgan Park) certainly has the most tulips planted and the most intricate display. If you have time to only visit one park, this should be the one.
Before You Go
The Istanbul Tulip Festival is a joyous festival of color. It celebrates the colors of spring and the significance of the tulip in Turkish culture.
If you happen to be in Istanbul during April, then be sure to visit some of the parks to see the gorgeous tulip gardens and tulip displays.