As the new year and holiday season approaches, it can be a trying time for any expat far away from home. While traditions may differ here, the start of a new year is, if nothing, a pensive time. So let the expat community help guide you through the gift-giving, feasting and celebrating season with the following fun and entertaining events in the city this next fortnight.
Dec. 16-17 - Circuit Istanbul Holiday BazaarThis weekend, on Dec. 16-17, CIRCUIT Istanbul will host a Holiday Bazaar from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the fifth seasonal bazaar held by this creative arts and events venue located in Kadıköy's colorful Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood. Run by expats and locals alike, CIRCUIT's ultimate mission is to perpetuate sustainable creativity, and this bazaar has a focus on maintaining awareness on mindful design and sustainable packaging. There will be both brands and independent designs presenting upcycled products designed with natural materials as well as vegetarian and vegan snacks and a festive atmosphere to boot.
Dec. 19 - A Very Merry Holiday CocktailYabangee, a website run by and geared toward Istanbul's expat community, which doles out advice, promotes innovative organizations, publicizes events and organizes activities of their own, will be hosting A Very Merry Holiday Cocktail on Tuesday, Dec. 19 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Kiss the Frog Brasserie in Rumelihisarı. Located along the Bosporus shore, this chic yet cozy brasserie dishes up delicious, international fusion seafood, which includes a long sushi menu.
There will be a special fixed menu for the evening with a wide variety of delectable hors d'oeuvres for guests served from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for TL 65 ($17), including a drink. Those choosing to forego the food part of the night, can join after 9 p.m. to enjoy live DJ music and the secret Santa gift exchange planned for the night. To participate in the gift exchange, attendees are advised to bring a wrapped gift costing from TL 5 to TL 20, which they will then exchange with a secret someone.
Dec. 22, 24 Istanbul&I's Intro to Culture: Yalda and ChristmasIstanbul&I is an international youth community dedicated to making a social impact, which regularly hosts English, Turkish and Arabic speaking clubs. It will host two editions of their Introduction to Culture series this month, the first of which will take place on Friday, Dec. 22, and will be on "yalda," the ancient Persian festival celebrated on the longest night of the year. Also referred to as shab-e chelleh, this celebration of the winter solstice is also a tradition in a number of Central Asian countries. This event, which provides an opportunity to learn about other cultures, will also have music and poetry and will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Then on Sunday, Dec. 24, Istanbul&I will host Introduction to Culture: Christmas, which will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Both of these informative events, which will take place in English, are free and open to the public and will be held at their center in Tophane.
Dec. 23 - The Lord of the Falafel: Stand-Up Comedy Christmas SpecialOn Saturday, Dec. 23, comedians from different countries and backgrounds will come together to spread laughter this holiday season in a special performance, The Lord of the Falafel: Stand-Up Comedy Christmas Special. This English-language stand-up comedy event will take place from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Cambridge Academy, located next to the Şişli metro station. Entrance is TL 10.
Dec. 24 - Pop-Up Dinners Istanbul hosts Christmas EveRun by a multicultural expat born in Singapore, who came to Turkey an odd 25 years ago from England and opens up her home in Cihangir to a select number of expat-heavy guests who get to experience her delicious and unique cuisine, Pop-up Dinners Istanbul will host a very special Christmas Eve Dinner on Sunday, Dec. 24, starting at 8:30 p.m. Expect a Christmas dinner with all of the works, including roast beef with gravy and Yorkshire pudding as well as Christmas pudding for dessert. Guests are also advised to bring a small gift costing no more than TL 10 to put under the tree only to be opened at midnight. Check out the Pop-Up Dinners Istanbul Facebook page for more info and to reserve a spot.
Catch it while you can: Beşiktaş Antique and Nostalgia FestivalThe Beşiktaş Foundation of Antique Shop Owners and Second-Hand Book Sellers is hosting the 4th annual Beşiktaş Antique and Nostalgia Festival from Dec. 9 to Dec. 17 at the Istanbul Naval Museum in Beşiktaş. The festival takes place daily from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and entrance is free. It is a great opportunity to check out Turkish nostalgia and rare Ottoman objects such as plates, old newspapers, cameras, sculptures and paintings as well as to possibly snag some interesting antiques as gifts this holiday season.