Nightlife & the Arts in Istanbul

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Istanbul Nightlife

Istanbul's nightlife still revolves, in many ways, around its meyhanes, tavern-like restaurants where long nights are spent nibbling on mezes and sipping the anise-flavored spirit rakı. The atmosphere at these places—mostly found in the lively Beyoğlu area—is jovial, friendly, and worth experiencing. But there are lots of other options, too, again mostly in Beyoğlu, which has everything from smoky American-style dive bars to sophisticated lounges, performance spaces that host world-class live acts, and discos and dance clubs. In warm weather, much of the city's nightlife action shifts to the Bosphorus shore, where chic (and pricey) summer-only nightclubs play host to Istanbul's rich and famous, and those who want to rub shoulders with them.

For upcoming events, reviews, and other information about what to do in Istanbul, pick up a copy The Guide, a reliable bimonthly English-language publication that has listings of hotels, bars, restaurants, and events, as well as features about Istanbul. The English-language Today's Zaman is another good resource (better than the recently renamed Turkish Daily News, which is now the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Report) for listings and for keeping abreast of what's happening in Turkish and international politics.

The Arts

Summer is a lively time for the arts in Istanbul. The Istanbul International Music Festival, held for the duration of June, attracts renowned artists from around the world performing classical music. Shows take place throughout the city in historic buildings, such as Aya Irini and Rumeli Hisar. The International Theater Festival takes place May through early June, and attracts major stage talent from across the globe. The International Istanbul Jazz Festival occurs every July and has grown to include much more than just jazz. Recent headliners have included Herbie Hancock, Lenny Kravitz, and members of the Buena Vista Social Club.

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