Festival recreates glamour of Istanbul

By Lee Woo-young

‘Istanbul in Gyeongju 2014’ takes visitors to historic places in Istanbul; presents diverse Turkish cultural performances

  • Published : Sept 3, 2014 - 20:55
  • Updated : Sept 4, 2014 - 16:38
The opulence and glamour of old Istanbul will be recreated in the historic South Korean city of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, during “Istanbul in Gyeongju 2014,” an upcoming cultural festival to tie the two cities as partners.

The festival will kick off a 10-day run on Sept. 12 as part of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo, amazing visitors to Gyeongju with decorations resembling historic sites in Istanbul. It will also entertain them with performances, exhibitions and parades, all with a focus on Turkish history and culture. Some 300 Turkish artists will be invited to showcase their rich culture to Koreans.

The main venue of the festival, Hwangseong Park, will turn into a mini Istanbul built with models of installations and structures in the Turkish city. The main stage in the park, where the opening ceremony is to be held, will be decorated with installations inspired by Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. The palace is also registered as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
The Ottoman military band Mehter parades in Istanbul during the Istanbul-Gyeongju World Culture Expo in 2013. (Gyeongju World Culture Expo)

The festival will recreate the iconic Grand Bazaar of Istanbul and offer Turkish food and delights. Handcrafted works will be on display as well to heighten the festival mood.

“You would feel like you just landed in Istanbul when you visit the festival. The festival will create a dynamic cultural experience with a variety of cultural performances,” said Salih Efiloglu, cultural director of the city of Istanbul.

Highlights include performances by the Ottoman military band Mehter, the oldest military band in the world, and a Turkish folk music concert. The military band will hold a show that narrates the birth of the band and presents traditional marching performances during the festival.

The Istanbul Theater Group, celebrating the 100th year of its founding, will present an anniversary play entitled “OYUN.”

The festival will also unfold various aspects of Turkish culture in seven booths. Each booth will promote its history, art, food and other charms of Turkish culture. Visitors will get a glimpse of Istanbul in a photo exhibition portraying the city of Istanbul.

Another highlight is the “Silk Road Music Road” concert that brings together folk instrument players from South Korea, Turkey, China, Uzbekistan and Mongolia. Directed by a Korean conductor, the concert will present a harmonized performance that traces the origin and meaning of Silk Road. The concert will be held on Sept. 14 at Seongnam Art Center and on Sept. 16 at Gyeongju Arts Center.

“These are the world-class performances and exhibitions. They are also free so that anyone can come and enjoy. The festival is a great place to learn a different culture that we are not familiar with,” said Kim Kwang-yong, governor of North Gyeongsang Province.

The city of Gyeongju will present the “K-Festival,” which showcases diverse charms of Korean culture. It will invite renowned cultural entities, including traditional percussion music band Kim Deok-su Samulnori and traditional Korean costume designer Lee Young-hee.

The festival will run from Sept. 12-22 at Hwangseong Park, Gyeongju World Culture Expo and Gyeongju Arts Center in Gyeongju. For more information, visit

By Lee Woo-young & Kim Sang-il 
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