Most of us like December and its festive atmosphere with its magical Christmas and new year alive spirit. Announcing the start of winter, December brings joyful moments every year with its bright decoration and warm feelings. So if you are still planning your winter holiday, let us advise you of one of the best places in the world with a convivial celebration spirit; Have you ever thought that Istanbul might be a good idea?

Istanbul is one of Europe’s biggest party cities. Besides, it has become one of the most visited destinations in the world in winter.

So let’s see together what makes it a perfect Christmas and new year destination.


New Year and Christmas Holiday in Turkey

Knowing that Turkey is a 98% Muslim country might be surprising to discover that it is a great Christmas and new year destination to visit in holidays time.

Although Christmas day is a normal working day in Turkey, it doesn’t keep you away from Christmas and New Year’s fervor, especially in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir.

Although it is mostly locally considered New Year’s festivities rather than Christmas, you still can feel the same warmth and magical Christmas spirit. Besides, with the coming of many ex-pats in certain cities like Istanbul, Christmas and new year festivities are more and more spread in many places.

Surprisingly, the Christmas spirit lies somewhere in Turkish history. The legend said that the real Santa Claus, known as St Nicolas, was born in Patara, situated in today’s Turkey.


Christmas and New Year Holidays in Istanbul 2

Reasons Why Istanbul is a Christmas and New Year Destination

Istanbul may not be the first destination that comes to your mind when it comes to the new year and Christmas holiday; however, you can be surprised when you look at the following features.


While walking around in Istanbul’s famous streets, such as Istiklal or Bagdat Streets at this time of the year, you won’t notice any difference with Western countries regarding Christmas decorations. You will see plenty of glowing Christmas trees, shining Street lights wherever you go, shopping malls, cafes and restaurants, streets, and even in some workplaces.

No Extensive Christmas Hyping

One of the things that might be annoying at Christmas time in most western cities is the excessive commercial hype. However, in Istanbul, you get the chance to enjoy the Christmas and new year atmosphere without the monotonous overused advertising of every year.

No Long Queue

Since Christmas days are regular working days in Turkey, you will be lucky to sightsee the city with all its iconic monuments and prominent museums without bothering to wait in line for hours. Thus you will value each second of your stay.

Christmas Masses

Christian visitors who still want to enjoy the spiritual christmas atmosphere can still attend masses in Istanbul. Istanbul hosts several churches and cathedrals. We can cite as examples the Greek St George church in Fener, St Pierre church in Karaköy, and the most famous St Anthony of Padua catholic situated in the iconic Istiklal Street.

Things to do in Christmas and New Year Time in Istanbul

Places to Visit

Apart from the uncountable iconic site and monuments that must be seen during a visit to Istanbul, such as museums, historical monuments, and the outstanding landscapes such as the iconic Bosphorus, we will focus in this section on the places you can visit and still be on the mood of Christmas and New year’s spirit.

Nişantaşı Neighborhood

If you walk through Nişantaşı, you will be surprised by the gorgeous Christmas decorations in the streets and all the shopfronts over there. Sightseeing between wealthy and international brands like Cartier, Tifanny, Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, will make you forget that you are in Turkey and give you the feeling of being in famous western streets like 5th Avenue of NYC or Champs-Elysées of Paris.

It is a wonderful neighborhood to walk along and take lovely pictures with Christmas decorations and Street lights.

You can also find the same atmosphere in other famous streets like Bağdat avenue and Istiklal Street.

New Year’s Village in Zorlu

Held every year in Zorlu Center, the new year’s village is inspired by the western Christmas markets. İt presents a multitude of options for Christmas gifts and chocolate. It is also animated by different concerts, and it lasts all long the month of December.

Kanyon Gift Market

It is held in Kanyon shopping mall every year from 17th to 23rd od December every year. It offers various alternative gifts ideas suitable for a different taste, from jewelry to decoration objects and toys.

It also brings many handmade unique, designed products from famous brands in art craft.

Bomonti Winter Fair
This fair gathers many charge-free workshops in different handicrafts every year all along December. This fair attracts different tastes and interests, from coffee workshops to Postcard, jazz, and even pillow workshops.


The Best Time and Place for Shopping

It is always a good idea to shop in Istanbul with reasonable prices, good quality, and various options.

Istanbul has more than 200 shopping malls, some of which are among the top shopping centers in Europe. It is also an opportunity to benefit from the winter sales. At the same time, you will enjoy the spirit of Christmas and new year festivities thanks to the creative decorations and the glowing Christmas lights.

New Year’s Celebration in Istanbul

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Istanbul is a brilliant idea s you can find many choices suitable for different tastes and budgets. In this section, we will try to suggest some alternatives to help you enjoy New Year’s Eve in this beautiful city.

Outdoor Parties

If you enjoy being outside in winter weather, Istanbul’s streets parties might be your cup of tea. Famous streets such as Nişantaşı, Bagdat Street, and Istiklal hold outdoor concerts with live music to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Indoor Parties

If you prefer to stay warm, you should know that most of Istanbul’s hotels, restaurants, and clubs organize fixed-price packages for New Year’s Eve, including beverages and food. In general, hotels and restaurants packages include parties and dinner, while bars and clubs are limited to a few drinks.

Make sure you get your reservation early to get good opportunities.

Dinner Cruise
Celebrating New Year’s Eve on a boat in the middle of the Bosphorus and enjoying your meal while admiring the outstanding sceneries of the beautiful historic waterfront mansions and the imposing bridge would be one of the best ways to welcome the new year.

Many boats organize cruise dinners on New Year’s Eve with unlimited food and drink and folkloric shows. You will also get the chance to enjoy the midnight fireworks.


At midnight sharp, the whole city gets illuminated with blowing fireworks. You don’t have to go somewhere specific to enjoy it. All you have to do is to be in an open-air place, no matter where it is in Istanbul. It’s a common celebration way in almost all the streets and even neighborhoods.

As you can see, Istanbul is just a magical city that won’t stop surprising us. No matter when you visit it, it is always the right place to be.