National Holidays in Turkey 2023-2024

Page update - Jan 4, 2023

What are the public holidays in Turkey? Which ones are days off, which ones are shortened days? How and what do Turks celebrate? What events do they organize, and how interesting is it for ordinary tourists? Read the answers on this page.

Calendar of holidays for 2023 and 2024

2023 2024
New Year January 1 January 1
National Sovereignty and Children's Day April 23 April 23
Labour and Solidarity Day May 1 May 1
Ramazan Bayrami (Eid al-Fitr, end of Ramadan) April 21-23 April 9-12
Ataturk Day, Youth and Sports Day May 19 May 19
Democracy and National Solidarity Day July 15 July 15
Kurban Bayrami (Eid al-Adha) June 28 - July 1 June 15-19
Victory Day August 30 August 30
Republic Day October 28-29 October 28-29

Please note that almost all holidays in Turkey have fixed dates according to the Gregorian calendar. Only Ramazan Bayrami (Eid al-Fitr) and Kurban Bayrami (Eid al-Adha) festivals do not have fixed dates and are determined according to the lunar Islamic calendar.

Postponement of days off

In Turkey, the law does not provide for the postponement of public holidays. If the holiday falls on a Sunday or Saturday, there is no additional day off. In this case, additional days off may be declared by companies and organizations, and the decision is at the discretion of the management.

There are NO days off in Turkey for

These days are public holidays in most Islamic countries, but not in Turkey. There are NO public holidays on the following:

- The Islamic holiday of Isra and Miraj;

- Islamic holiday Arafat Day;

- Islamic New Year's Day Al-Hijra;

- The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

January 1 - New Year

31 December is a working day. January 1 is a day off.

In Turkish, "Yılbaşı gecesi" (Pronounce: "Yilbashi gedjesi").

The New Year on January 1 (by the Gregorian calendar) in Turkey appeared only in 1926. Before that, the Turks used to live by the Islamic lunar calendar and their own calendar called "Rumi takvim". They started to celebrate the New Year only in 1935 when January 1 was declared a national holiday.

December 31 is a working day. It is shortened to 12 noon in almost all institutions. In some institutions, it is a day off by decision of the management. Banks and post offices are closed at 1 pm or 2 pm (13-00 or 14-00). Shops and supermarkets are the same, but sometimes they work until 6 pm (18-00).

Since historically Turks have not had their own traditions of celebrating New Year's Eve and New Year, much of the traditions have migrated from European cultures.

Most Turks have a family New Year's Eve dinner at home. The main New Year dish is a roast turkey. It is customary to exchange small gifts with family and friends. Turks mostly watch TV all night, because the TV companies put on extravaganza shows and organize special raffles for New Year.

The New Year's national raffle is a famous Turkish tradition. A surprising tradition considering that gambling and lotteries are forbidden in Islam. It is the country's biggest lottery. To give you an example, in 2022/2023, the top prize is 200 million Turkish liras (USD 10.7 million at the time). The second prize is 20 million liras. See our "Money in Turkey" page for the current rates.

Almost all Turks try to buy the lottery ticket. The price of a lottery ticket is 200 liras (2022/2023). An interesting thing about this lottery is that there is a "half ticket" for 100 liras and a "quarter ticket" for 50 liras. If a person wins a half or quarter ticket, they share the prize with the holders of the other halves and quarters.

It is very prestigious in Turkey to celebrate the New Year in a restaurant or hotel. New Year's Eve dinner at a restaurant usually consists of seven courses. Entertainment included.

The countdown to the New Year is a national event. Taksim Square in Istanbul is especially crowded. After midnight, many people go outside to watch the fireworks and stroll around. The Bosphorus Bridge has a grandiose fireworks display, which is broadcast on TV.

There is also a Turkish version of Santa Claus, and his name is Noel Baba. He has nothing to do with religion, he is purely secular. Children believe that it is Noel Baba who brings presents on New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve is an interesting time, but January 1 is a boring day when everything is closed. For tourists, Turkey is far from the most interesting place to celebrate New Year's Eve.

April 23 - National Sovereignty and Children's Day

A day off.

In Turkish, "Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Ulusal Egemenlik ve Chuchook Bayrami").

A very interesting feature of this holiday in Turkey is that it combines several holidays into one. The 23rd of April marks the anniversary of the first meeting of the Grand National Assembly (the first parliament) of the country in 1920 in Ankara. This event was the beginning of the new Turkish Republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

National Sovereignty Day is referred to by some as 'Independence Day', but this is not quite right. Independence Day is on the 29th of October.

In 1927, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk declared April 23rd as "Children's Day" proclaiming "Children are the future of the nation". This is how this double holiday came about.

On April 23, it is customary to organize cultural and sporting events for children all over the country. The biggest takes place at the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

A unique tradition of the "government change" takes place. For one day on April 23 all members of the government are replaced by children. These children hold meetings and even sign decrees, but only regarding education and the environment. Naturally, they do not write the decrees themselves, the decrees are prepared for them in advance.

April 23rd can be very interesting for tourists in Turkey. There are a lot of mass events there.

May 1 - Labour and Solidarity Day

A day off.

In Turkish, "Emek ve Dayanışma Günü" (Pronounce: "Emek ve Dayanishma Gunu").

For Turkey, it is "a national holiday on the third try". It was first declared in 1923, it was "Workers' Day". The first celebration ended with protests and their violent dispersal. In 1924, demonstrations on May 1 were banned, and in 1925, the holiday was abolished.

In 1935, the holiday was brought back under the name of "Spring and Flower Day", and it turned out to be a peaceful day off. It was not until 1976 that people started to riot again. In 1977, a record rally of 500,000 people took place in Istanbul's Taksim Square. The police opened fire on the crowd, 14 people were killed at the time. Since 1981, the holiday has been abolished again.

Since 2009, May 1 has again been declared a holiday called "Labour and Solidarity Day". And now, if Turkish trade unions or ordinary citizens want to protest, they choose May 1st. It is already such a Turkish tradition.

Protests do not always end peacefully. That is why tourists in the big cities are advised to stay in the hotels. The resorts are quiet and you can go sightseeing in peace.

Ordinary Turks go to visit friends and relatives and have a party on this day. For most, it's just an extra day off.

May 19 - Ataturk Day, Youth and Sports Day

A day off.

In Turkish, "Atatürk'ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Ataturk'u Anma, Genchlik ve Spor Bayrami").

Another Turkish two-in-one holiday. It marks the anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's arrival in Samsun, from which point the Turks began the War of Independence.

In 1936, Ataturk himself decided to dedicate the 19th of May to youth and sports. In 1981, by a decision of parliament, the holiday became doubled.

A wreath-laying ceremony at Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara is mandatory. In Samsun, the ritual of bringing the Turkish flag ashore to mark the anniversary of Ataturk's arrival is held.

10 days before, Turks arrange a flag run, an interesting process similar to the Olympic flame race. Young athletes race from Samsun to Ankara to hoist the flag outside Ataturk's mausoleum.

There are sporting events all over the country and it is interesting to watch. For tourists, May 19th can be interesting because of the mass events.

4 days - dates change - Sheker Bayram (Eid al-Fitr)

Long weekend.

In Turkish, "Şeker Bayramı" or "Ramazan Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Sheker Bayrami" or "Ramazan Bayrami").

It is a big holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast - do not eat, drink or smoke from sunrise to sunset, and a true believer should be modest in general. This shows that they are ready to follow the path of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, despite hardship.

The date of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr is counted according to the lunar Islamic calendar and changes every year.

In 2022, the last day of Ramadan was May 1, and May 2-5 were days off. In 2023, the last day of Ramadan is 20 April, 21-25 are days off. In 2024, the last day of Ramadan is 9 April, 9-12 are days off. In 2025, the last day of Ramadan is 29 March, 29-31 are days off.

Attention! Dates are subject to change, the exact dates will only be confirmed by the religious commission a few days before the holiday.

When the month of Ramadan ends, a big feast called Sheker Bayrami starts. At this time, it is customary to organize large family gatherings and go to visit friends and relatives. There is no particular social event on Eid al-Fitr, but there is a gigantic array of events.

It is customary to spend money on Eid al-Fitr. Shops and supermarkets are therefore littered with signs advertising discounts and promotions, special offers and sales. Even public transport in Istanbul offers a 50% discount (taxis do not). The cities have special fairs with entertainment for children.

A lot of Turks go to the Mediterranean coast for the All Inclusive hotels. The occupancy rate at this time is 100%. So do not wait for cheap tours to Turkey at this time.

The government usually sets three or four weekends in a row.

For tourists, Eid Al-Fitr is interesting and inconvenient at the same time. On the one hand, there are promotions and discounts. On the other hand, there are a lot of people everywhere and hotels are overcrowded.

July 15 - Democracy and National Solidarity Day

A day off.

In Turkish, "Demokrasi ve Milli Birlik Günü" (Pronounce: "Demokrisi ve Milli Beerleek Gunu").

Turkey's youngest holiday, introduced only in 2017. It commemorates the anniversary of the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

Since not all Turks support President Erdogan, the attitude to the event is complicated.

In Turkey, people have little understanding of what to celebrate on this day, how to celebrate it, or whether to celebrate it at all. Most people perceive July 15 as an extraordinary day off.

There are no major events, except for speeches by President Erdogan and his supporters.

Official sources say, "On this day, Turks should reflect on their national unity. It is also a day to remember all the victims of the coup". As a reminder, 251 people died and around 2,000 were injured.

4 days - dates change - Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha)

Long weekend.

In Turkish, "Kurban Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Kurban Bayrami"). The Arabic name for it is Eid al-Adha.

It is one of the major Islamic holidays. It is celebrated in honor of the prophet Ibrahim, who lived a long time ago. Allah ordered Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, and Ibrahim was ready to do it, but Allah stopped him. It was a test of faithfulness. Instead of his son, Ibrahim sacrificed a ram.

The date of Eid al-Adha is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar and changes every year.

In 2022, July 10-13 were days off. In 2023, it is June 28 and the days off are June 29, July 1 and 2. In 2024, it is June 16 and the days off are June 17-20. In 2025, it is June 6 and the days off are June 7-10.

Kurban Bayram is a working day, although few people work. Usually all businesses close by midday. Shops close after noon, but until 6 pm (18-00) for sure.

On Kurban Bayram, it is customary for Muslims to gather for morning prayers. Then the ritual of animal sacrifice follows. Usually it is a ram, but it can be a goat, an ox, or a camel.

In the old days, the animal was slaughtered by the head of the family or a hired butcher, and it was done in the courtyard of the house or even in the street. Nowadays it is strictly forbidden by law. The animal must be slaughtered only in special slaughterhouses. A man simply buys an animal and gives it to such a slaughterhouse. On the day of Eid al-Adha, the meat is taken away.

Often the sacrifice is divided among 6-7 people, e.g. two families may join together and sacrifice one animal from all. It is customary to divide the meat into three portions. One third is kept, one third is given to relatives, and one third is donated to the poor.

Nowadays many Turks do not sacrifice an animal directly, but donate money to special organizations, which sacrifice for them. This is very convenient. The fact is that an adult ram gives 30 kilos (66 pounds) of meat, and they keep 10 kilos (22 pounds) for themselves, and receive another 10 kilos (22 pounds) from their relatives. What to do with 20 kilos (44 pounds) of mutton? Unless you stuff the whole freezer with it! That is why more and more Turks every year just donate money, it is more convenient that way.

For tourists, Kurban Bayram is not very interesting. It is a family holiday, when it is customary to meet with relatives. There are no interesting events. All attractions are closed on the first day of Kurban Bayram, and many are closed for all four days.

August 30 - Victory Day

A day off.

In Turkish, "Zafer Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Zaafer Bayrami").

It celebrates the victory of the Turkish Republican Army at the Battle of Dumlupinar on August 26-30, 1922. This battle was a turning point in the war between young Turkey and Greece. The Greeks lost the battle and were forced to retreat.

For the Turks, it is the most important event in history. For the rest of the world, it is ethically questionable. After all, the battle was followed by the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and the massacre in Smyrna, in the course of which some 1.5 million people were killed!

On August 30, the Turkish flag is flown over public offices and shops, and some Turks display the flag over their homes. Military parades are staged in major cities, with aircraft displaying red and white stripes (the colors of the flag) in the sky.

There are oath-taking ceremonies for members of the armed forces and ceremonies to mark the enrolment in the country's military colleges. It is also a day to honor Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara holds a mandatory ceremony in his honor. Flowers are brought to Ataturk's monuments across the country.

For tourists, August 30 is not the most interesting day. All the celebrations are dedicated to Turkey. Of course, one can listen to a military band and look at airplanes, but that is the end of the entertainment for tourists. Of course, there are no ceremonies or parades in resort areas.

October 29 - Republic Day

A day off. The de facto 28th of October is also a day off.

In Turkish, "Cumhuriyet Bayramı" (Pronounce: "Jumhooriyet Bayrami").

It is a very interesting holiday. It is not a day but 35 hours long and begins on October 28th at 1 pm (13-00). The event commemorates the anniversary of the Turkish Republic's declaration of independence on 29th October 1923.

Ataturk himself proclaimed this day as the most important holiday of Turkey. It is celebrated in grand style. Music and dance concerts are held everywhere. The stadiums on this day are reserved for performances, including those by amateur groups. Politicians love to take part in these concerts. Schools and universities hold performances by amateur students and young performers.

Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara is a full house. All over the country, people bring flowers to the monuments of Ataturk and hold ceremonies in honor of their great leader. Flag parades are staged in the streets. On the evening of October 29, there are fireworks all over the country, with the main fireworks display above the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul.

There is plenty for tourists to see - just make sure you find out in advance where the upcoming events are going to take place. You can ask at the hotel reception.

What else you need to know

- The holy month of Ramadan is also a holiday in a way. Luckily, it doesn't affect tourists in Turkey as much. Read our detailed review "Ramadan in Turkey - tips for tourists";

- Taxi fares can be higher during the holidays. Fortunately, night and holiday fares have now been eliminated in Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, and Ankara. But in some regions the practice still remains. Be morally prepared and read our review "Taxi in Turkey";

- Istanbul's subway is open all day and night during the public holidays. Read all the details in the review "Istanbul Subway".

Have a great holiday in Turkey, and read our pages about the country (find the pages list below). © 2020-2024