Esentepe Apricot Festival © North Cyprus Tourism Centre
Orchids in bloom
Take a walking tour and discover these tiny, colourful beauties.
Avetepe & Tepebaşi Festival
Tulip festivals are held in both Tepebaşi and Avtepe in March, to coincide with the flowering of the Tulipa cypria, the dark crimson flower endemic to Cyprus. Although the flower is ostensibly the main event, it provides the two villages with an excuse for a bit of music and dancing, stalls serving traditional delicacies and handicrafts, and a few speeches by visiting dignitaries. The tulips themselves are protected, and to see them you’ll have to wander through a few neighbouring fields. The sight of a few score people engaging in this is in itself a novel sight!
Esentepe holds a lively apricot festival, usually during the last week of May and first week of June. It’s a great chance to see colourful traditional costumes and dancing, and to listen to traditional music late into the night. And to eat apricots, of course.
International Bellapais Music Festival
Classical music in the stunning setting of Bellapais Abbey. An important date in the calendar for culture lovers (www.bellapaisfestival.com).
Gazimağusa International Culture & Arts Festival
Test the town’s claim to be North Cyprus’s ‘cultural capital’ by sampling music of every variety – from classical through to reggae and hip-hop.
Geçitkale Hellim Festival
Call it ‘hellim’ or ‘halloumi’, this festival is all about cheese!
North Cyprus International Music Festival
Spreads its favours across locations from Bellapais Abbey to Salamis Roman Theatre. Tango, flamenco, chamber music and much more.
Zeytinlik Olive Festival
How many recipes can you think of using olives? None? Oh well, just join in the drinking, dancing and playing table tennis! The Girne area celebrates its olive festival in October. It’s held in the little village of Zeytinlik, a few kilometres to the southwest of town and lasts for a week. It features all types of music from teen orchestras through to Turkish pop, with a dash of folk and Latin on the way. As well as the music, there are folk dance displays, darts and table tennis tournaments, free nibbles, plays, processions, olive branch burning and basketball competitions. And, of course, a chance to taste and purchase olives and olive oil.
North Cyprus Republic Day
The chance to celebrate the region’s ‘independence’, though Turkey is the only other country to recognise it.