Istanbul offers perfect markets to shop for New Year’s

As the holiday season sets in and the new year arises, why not use the opportunity to check out some of the many holiday season markets, a number of which are organized by members of the expat community as fundraisers, but all are guaranteed to offer a wide selection of handcrafted or selected unique gifts for Christmas and the new year.

The following is a list of this year's holiday markets scheduled in Istanbul:

Dec. 2- New Year's Boutique by Şişli Sports ClubThe Şişli Sports Club, which was first founded in 1936, will be hosting a special sports-themed New Year's Boutique at the Pangaltı Ramada Hotel on Sat. Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. From accessories, to home decor, textiles to art, there will also be a book signing by world children poetry champion Yalvaç Ural, who will be signing his books for guests at 11:30 a.m.

Dec. 3- IWI Winter FestivalThe International Women of Istanbul, IWI in short, is a member-based organization for international women residing in Istanbul. They hold two major fundraising events every year, one of which is their annual charity-raising IWI Winter Festival, which will take place on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Istanbul Marriott Hotel Şişli. This special event, which is open to all, will have over 80 shopping stalls, an international food court, luxurious lottery prizes, a children's corner, festive entertainment and even a visit from Santa Claus. Entrance is TL 10 ($2.5) with free admission for children under the age of 12 and all net proceeds go to the IWI Social Responsibility Fund, which donates to local nonprofit organizations.

The IWI also organizes monthly community meet ups for those new to the city and the organization to learn more about both as well as has a Business Network division and organizes regular children's play groups. An excellent way to meet fellow foreign female residents in Istanbul, for this Christmas alone there will be two Grand Bazaar Shopping Sprees, a Gingerbread House Workshop also held at the Marriott Hotel in Şişli and a Christmas lunch at Swiss Hotel for members.

Dec. 6- Portobello Christmas BazaarCircolo Roma Istanbul will be hosting their annual Portobello Christmas Bazaar on Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Casa d'Italia, located on Meşrutiyet Street between the Pera Hotel and Museum in Tepebaşı. Founded in 1931 to promote and support the Italian community living in Istanbul, Circolo Roma serves as a home away from home for many Italian expats and also hosts a wide array of interesting events and workshops, such as cooking courses, book clubs and training in the arts.

At the Portobello Christmas Bazaar there will be typical Italian products for sale, such as parmesan and other authentic cheeses, sauces, Panettone, pasta and homemade preserves to name just a few. There will also be Italian food and espresso served on the day.

Dec. 10- Handmade Istanbul Holiday MarketThe Handmade Istanbul Holiday Market will be taking place on Sunday, Dec. 10 at the St. Helena Chapel in Tepebaşı from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This merry market provides a special opportunity to check out some of the city's best artisan crafts makers, many of which are also expats, while also contributing to a good cause as the proceeds for this event goes to help the U.N. registered refugees at the St. George Hostel.

This year there will be stall-upon-stall selling handmade jewelry, ceramics, toys, amiguri, ebru, calligraphy, mosaics, mandalas and home decor. It must also be mentioned that the poster for the event promises kronuts, tamales and other holiday treats,

Dec. 9- Bomonti KermesOn Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the annual Bomonti Xmas Kermes Bazaar will be taking place at the Fransız Fakirhanesi as a fundraiser for the Little Sisters of the Poor elderly home. There will be handcrafts, clothes, accessories and food from all over the world as well as a raffle. Located on Silahşör Caddesi in the colorful Bomonti neighborhood, this event is popular with foreigners and locals alike living in this up-and-coming historically multicultural neighborhood.

Dec.9- Noel Fair at AshAsh Istanbul will be hosting a Noel Panayırı, in other words a holiday fair, from their venue in Pangaltı, on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. These creative caterers will be opening their space to young, dynamic and creative designers who will be displaying their creations as you get to try Ash's culinary treats.

Dec.13- Arya Shopping FestivalOn Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 6 p.m. to 9:00p.m., the Arya Women's Investment Platform will be hosting a very special shopping event at Kolektif House in Levent called the Arya Alışveriş Festivali, in other words, the Arya Shopping Festival. The Arya Women Investment Platform boasts being Turkey's only female focused investment platform that works to bring together women entrepreneurs and investors. This year they will be hosting their first holiday bazaar of sorts in which visitors will have the chance to purchase unique year-end gifts from the very female entrepreneurs who made them themselves. In addition to a wide variety of ingenious products including jewelry, accessories, clothes, cookware and home decorations, there will also be gifts made by Syrian refugees and disadvantaged children as well as special snacks, chocolates and even farm-to-table products.

New Year's Gift Workshops

If you are in the mood to make some of your holiday gifts on your own, Cep Sahne in Ortaköy will be hosting a very special workshops series to allow you to do so. Starting on Saturday, Dec. 2, the workshops include wreath-making, amiguri Christmas decorations, holiday-themed embroidered canvases and terrarium-making.

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