Hidrellez Festival, Edirne, Turkey, 2015

The colourful Hidrellez Festival in Edirne, Turkey

Together with a group of friends, I joined a tour to Edirne for the Hidrellez Festival, run by Oriental Istanbul.  We joined up with tours from Japan and Australia, and had such fun that I think I will have to go again next year.

Our experience began with a two-hour dance class, given by Dalia Carella

For me, two hours of continuous dancing was rather exhausting, so I ducked out to take some photos, and a video. Many of the Australian and Japanese attendees had studied this sort of dancing in their home countries, and were very proficient!

Later, ready to party, we crossed the bridge by the Justice Tower, a part of old Edirne Palace

We were greeted by this band, playing traditional Romani music

The Hidrellez Festival is observed in Turkey every May 6. It celebrates the day that the two prophets, Hizir (Al-Khdir) and Ilyas (Elijah), met each other on Earth in springtime, a time associated with planting and new life. The word "Hidrellez" is a fusion of the two prophets' names.

The festival in Turkey has become a joyous proclamation of the coming of spring. People prepare for Hidrellez by thoroughly cleaning their homes, buying new clothes and shoes to wear for the festival, and making special food, such as fresh lamb or lamb's liver.

Everywhere, there were groups of people dancing and singing

Suddenly, we heard the band, and the procession began. They came marching over the bridge.

We saw a man on stilts...

 ...and a beautiful lady, like a butterfly!

...followed by dancers, with tambourines.

These children were singing and dancing for the crowds

A stack of wood seemed to be the focal point, and a man threw petrol over the wood.

Then the fire was lit, and the crowd backed away from the incredible heat!

We went to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and were entertained by the 
amazing clarinetist, Yuksel, and his band

Even they were impressed by Dalia's dancing, as we partied into the night!

We arose early next morning to join the dawn celebrations by the Fatih Bridge. Many Turks believe that Hizir drank the water of life and is immortal, and that he is able to bring health, happiness, and abundance. For this reason, celebrations are often held near water, and the people write their wishes on pieces of paper, and throw them into the river so they will flow to Hizir, who will make their wishes come true.

People lined the bridge to watch the proceedings.

This woman was selling votive offerings to cast into the water with a wish

As dawn approached, there was singing and dancing

...and lots of happy people

The dancers came back for the sunrise dance

Here is my video of the Hidrellez Festival. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Coughlan


  1. Great photography plus commentary... wish I had come but will have to make up for that next year.

    1. It was great fun! I will definitely consider going next year.

  2. I agree with Lale! Great pics and great commentary! Such colour and vibrancy! We were so lucky with the weather too ...you should send your post to Burcu at Unison Turkey on facebook ...

    1. Thanks, Claudia. Burcu has already seen it, and asked if she could link to it. Yes, we were really lucky with the weather, in fact, the whole trip was amazing!


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