In April, the cold grey days of winter make way for the bright colours of spring when over 11 million tulips blossom in the parks and streets of Istanbul.
Istanbul’s Tulip Festival, hosted annually by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, celebrates the coming of spring and honours Turkey’s long devotion for this beautiful flower, known locally as ‘lale.’
Originating in Turkey, the tulip grew to be a symbol of beauty, wealth and perfection for the elite Ottomans during the Tulip Era (1718 -1730). Explore Turkey now and you will see the tulip entwined in the designs of carpets, on the tiles of grand mosques, on buildings and the logos of businesses and events that are quintessentially Turkish.
The Tulip Festival starts the first week of April and lasts until the petals start to fall - by the end of the month. Colourful displays are found in almost every open space in the city.
The best place to view a spectacular exhibition of tulips is at Emirgan Park. The park is located past the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (the second Bosphorus Bridge), but the trip is well worth the effort. Take the T1 Tram or F1 Funicular from Taksim to Kabatas and pick up the municipality bus 25E at the Kabatas bus station between the tram and port. Istanbulkarts are required to pay the fare aboard the bus. The journey can take at least an hour, depending on traffic.
Other elaborate displays can be found in Sultanahmet Square and Gulhane Park (near touristic Sultanahmet) and Taksim Square.