How To Celebrate New Year In Turkey 2025 Guide

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

New Year is a big deal all over the world, but in Turkey, it goes up a notch. This is a country that knows how to celebrate the start of a fresh calendar year, and if you happen to visit during this hugely special occasion, you’ll enjoy one of the biggest parties (if not THE biggest) of the year.

My guide explains what you need to know about celebrating the New Year In Turkey, including what color to wear.

Turkey Travel Blog_How To Celebrate New Year In Turkey

New Year Celebrations 2024 To 2025

There’s something you should probably know before we start, as I found this extremely confusing at first: Father Christmas visits Turkey on New Year’s Eve. Despite being locally called ‘Noel Baba‘ (translated as Father Christmas), it’s a New Year thing, complete with New Year trees, presents, jingle bells, and all that jazz.

The legend of Santa has many variations, but did you know that a man named Nicholas, who was locally donned “Noel Baba,” lived in Patara, Turkey? He used to climb on the roofs of houses and drop pennies down the chimneys, giving us the basis for the story that we know and love today.

Nowadays, shopping centers, hotels, and town centers are all decorated with twinkling lights and a festive feel in the air; alongside the chilly weather (or the mild weather if you’re on the south coast), it’s a recipe for a beautiful event.

With the confusing part out of the way, how can you join in with the massive Turkish New Year celebrations, locally known as Yılbaşı (pronounced ‘yul bashuh’)?

New Year Customs In Turkey

Celebrate Turkish New Year 2024 with fireworks and the Turkish flag.

Like anywhere else in the world, Turkey has some customs that work alongside New Year, most of them superstitious and repeated year after year; taking part in these customs means you’re really immersing yourself in local life, and who knows, maybe they’ll bring some luck for the fresh year ahead?

Let’s take a look at some of the everyday customs and superstitions at this time of year.

1. Smashed Pomegranates

Pomegranates on a white table, symbolizing new beginnings in Turkiye.

Locally known as ‘nar,’ pomegranates are considered good luck in Turkey as they are said to bring abundance and prosperity. You’ll find them in most homes at this time of year, and decorations often feature the fruit to add extra luck.

Many people believe that if you smash a pomegranate in front of your house on New Year’s Eve, it will bring good fortune for the following 12 months. Similarly, if someone gifts you a pomegranate or anything decorated with one, thank them wholeheartedly, as they’re wishing you luck.

2. A Sprinkle Of Salt

Alongside, or instead of pomegranate, some people believe that sprinkling a little salt on the doorstep on New Year’s Eve also brings luck for the following year. Of course, that also works really well if it’s icy …

3. Dress Up In Red

Young Turks looking for love believe that wearing something red will give them a chance to meet The One in the year to come. While this is a wide-ranging belief, you’re likely to see many women in particular dressed in red on the big night, or at least donning a red accessory.

4. Opening The Door To The New Year

Another custom as the clock strikes 12 is to turn the lock on the door or a symbolic padlock as this is said to open the door to luck for the coming year and to attract abundance. Some people turn on a faucet instead of a lock.

5. Give The New Year Lottery A Go

Every New Year’s Eve, Turks sit around the TV waiting for the big national lottery drawing, known as Milli Piyango. Even those who don’t play the lottery for the rest of the year tend to have a go at this special time. The jackpot is huge, somewhere around 500 million TL, and it’s distributed amongst countless winners, from big to small.

If you’re in Turkey and you want to give it a go, you can a buy lottery ticket from supermarkets, but you’ll also find street vendors selling tickets too.

6. A New Year’s Feast

Istanbul scams - It is not free?

New Year’s Eve is the time for eating, and you’ll often see families creating a huge feast and inviting their nearest and dearest. The most common foods include roast chicken or turkey, potatoes, and vegetables. Some may even stuff the turkey with rice and chestnuts and roast for several hours. Prior to the main meal, different meze, dolma, and soups are served.

Where To Celebrate New Year In Turkey

Celebrate New Year with fireworks over the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

All large cities and towns will have New Year celebrations across the country, but many families choose to spend their time at home with loved ones. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a New Year celebration in someone’s home, make sure you go because it will be a real feast!

However, if you want to head out and mingle with the crowds, here are some of the best places to go:

Celebrate The New Year In Istanbul

An illustration of a donkey in a city with Christmas lights in Turkey.

If you’re looking for crowds, big-name stars, and plenty of glamour, it has to be Istanbul. One word of warning, though – it’s going to be BUSY! Most hotels, bars, and restaurants have New Year parties, and you’ll often find celebrities putting on concerts at some of the biggest spots. You will definitely need to book tickets well in advance if you want to attend any of these parties.

However, the streets of Istanbul come alive on New Year’s Eve, and Istiklal Caddesi in Taksim is so busy you literally cannot move. Watching the fireworks light up the night sky as the clock strikes midnight, and there is plenty of general merriment.

If you want to go to Istanbul for New Year, it’s worth booking your accommodation a good month at least in advance. Prices do go up at this time of year, and availability is limited. Also, if you want to take a Bosphorus cruise on New Year’s Eve, book it well ahead of time.

Celebrate The New Year In Cappadocia

A group of hot air balloons celebrate in Turkey during New Year.

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey, regardless of the time of year, is Cappadocia. This is a magical spot, and on New Year’s Eve, it becomes filled with the promise of hope for the coming year. This is also when it’s likely to snow over those fairy chimney landscapes, giving you a truly stunning location for your celebrations.

One of the most popular things to do is a hot air balloon ride, and if you want to do this, book online beforehand to avoid disappointment. However, the entire area is packed with activities, including workshops, horse riding, walking, history, and amazing food to try. You can even stay in a cave hotel.

On New Year’s Eve, the area comes alive with lights, celebrations, dancing, and huge feasts. If you’re staying in a large hotel, they will probably have a party, but it’s worth booking beforehand to avoid missing out.

Celebrate The New Year In Ankara

Istanbul nightclub - scams to avoid in Istanbul

The capital city is a top place to be during New Year, and it comes alive on the big night. Decorations, lights, trees, music, food, concerts, the list goes on. However, the difference here is that Ankara focuses less on huge parties and noise and more on New Year’s traditions and customs. It’s an excellent experience for anyone who doesn’t necessarily want to party all night long. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t if you don’t want to!

Ankara is a great spot to enjoy traditional Turkish food on New Year’s Eve, and the Kizilay area is a famous spot for bars and restaurants.

Celebrate The New Year In Izmir

A clock tower celebrating the arrival of a happy new year in Turkiye.

Located on the west coast, Izmir is a modern and cosmopolitan place, and it’s a great spot to celebrate New Year. This is a fun city, and it offers something for everyone, all while overlooking the glittering Aegean Sea.

On December 31st, there are parties, huge meals, fireworks, and street parties, and even aside from that, there is plenty to see and do. Take some time out to visit Ephesus, a unique ancient city around an hour away from Izmir, and explore the city and its many museums. Of course, sample the food!

Alsancak and Konak are the most vibrant parts of Izmir, and you’ll find live music and a fun-filled vibe along the Kordon, a seaside promenade with plenty of space for everyone.

Celebrate The New Year In Antalya

Antalya sits on Turkey’s beautiful south coast, and this area is one of the most scenic in the country. It also experiences mild temperatures throughout the winter months, so it’s a great spot if you want to avoid the extreme cold.

On New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks, concerts, parties, and huge meals, and the entire city is decorated with lights. The view over the sea and mountains is like nothing else, and this is the perfect backdrop for your celebrations. You will certainly be able to make memories here.

The whole area is packed with historical and natural spots to explore, too, so there is plenty to do.

Lara Beach and Antalya City itself have some huge all-inclusive hotels, and these have large parties and concerts. Again, book well ahead of time, as this is a very popular area during this time of year.

Celebrate The New Year In Bodrum

Bodrum is a sophisticated resort on the south coast, a few hours away from Izmir. The good news is that it has its own airport, and even if you can’t find direct flights in the winter months, you can fly into Izmir and get a transfer from there.

Bodrum is famous for its high-quality hotels, views, and its castle. All of this makes for a fantastic backdrop on New Year’s Eve. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants that will celebrate the New Year with parties and special set menus – as always, book well beforehand!

In Bodrum, you’re likely to find more live, traditional music, which is ideal if you want to avoid loud club-style music and focus on something more authentic. However, there are some clubs if you prefer that. There are also large fireworks displays as the clock strikes midnight.


Do you fancy spending New Year in the snow? In that case, head to Turkey’s premier snow resort, Uludag, which is close to the city of Bursa.

Whether you want to ski or snowboard or enjoy the scenery, Uludag offers a fantastic backdrop and some very high-quality hotels. You will certainly need to book a few months beforehand, and this is a popular spot in the winter months, regardless of any special events. However, on New Year’s Eve, the large hotels have parties, enormous feasts, and concerts, as well as fireworks that light up the snow-covered landscapes. It’s certainly magical.

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New Year’s In Turkey FAQs


How do you say Happy New Year in Turkish?

In Turkish, “Happy New Year” is written as “Mutlu Yıllar” and is pronounced as “Moot-loo Yuh-lar.” The phrase can also be extended to “Yeni Yılınız Kutlu Olsun,” which means “May your new year be celebrated” and is pronounced as “Yeh-nee Yuh-luh-nuhz Koot-loo Ol-soon.” These expressions are commonly used in Turkey to wish someone a happy new year, with “Mutlu Yıllar” being the more concise version.

How is New Year celebrated in Turkey?

New Year is a massive deal in Turkey and is celebrated across the country. The giving of gifts, decorations, feasts, and music all take place on December 31st, as well as the country’s biggest lottery draw!

Where is the best place to celebrate New Year in Turkey?

Where you choose to celebrate New Year depends upon the vibe you’re looking for. If you want big parties and crowds, head to Istanbul. If you want nature, go to Uludag or Cappadocia. Antalya, Bodrum, and Izmir are also fantastic places to spend New Year, as well as the capital city, Ankara.

Is Cappadocia an excellent place to celebrate New Year?

Cappadocia is a beautiful place to welcome a fresh new year. With fantastic scenery and the possibility of snow, Cappadocia will undoubtedly help you start the year in a special way.

What is New Year like in Istanbul?

New Year in Istanbul is busy! There are huge crowds, but it’s also a very vibrant place to spend this special night. Whatever you choose to do, you will need to book accommodation and any event tickets well ahead of time.

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

If you want to enjoy beach time, visit Turkey between May and October. However, the winter months are a great way to see the traditional side of the country, and Istanbul is beautiful between November and March when there is a small possibility of snow. The south coast is mild throughout the winter months and has a more laid-back feel.

What traditional customs happen at New Year in Turkey?

Many traditional customs occur at New Year, including smashing a pomegranate to usher in good luck for the coming year, wearing red to attract love, and giving gifts come New Year’s Eve.

Is New Year’s Eve a public holiday in Turkey?

No, New Year’s Eve is not an official holiday in Turkey. However, January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a national holiday.

What calendar is used for New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Turkey follows the Gregorian calendar, so New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are based on this calendar.

What are the best ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

There are various ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Turkey. Some popular options include attending New Year’s Eve celebrations, having a festive dinner, enjoying fireworks displays, or joining special events or parties.

What is the best thing about New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey?

The best thing about New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey is the vibrant atmosphere and festive spirit. Turkish people embrace the holiday season with enthusiasm, and there are plenty of exciting activities and events to participate in.

Is New Year’s Eve a significant holiday in Turkey?

While not a traditionally significant holiday in Turkish culture, New Year’s Eve has gained popularity in recent years due to its association with the festive season and the influence of Western traditions.

Are Christmas trees a part of New Year’s Eve decorations in Turkey?

Yes, Christmas trees are commonly used as part of the decorations for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey. They add to the festive atmosphere and are enjoyed by many people.

What is the Ottoman Empire’s connection to New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

The Ottoman Empire, which preceded modern-day Turkey, did not have a direct connection to New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, Turkey’s rich history and cultural heritage, which include influences from the Ottoman Empire, contribute to the diverse celebrations.

What is the ideal place to spend New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Turkey offers many ideal places to spend New Year’s Eve. Istanbul, with its stunning fireworks and vibrant atmosphere, is a popular choice. Other places such as Cappadocia, Antalya, and Bodrum also offer unique experiences and beautiful settings for celebrations.

What are some must-visit attractions during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Turkey is known for its rich history and cultural landmarks. Some must-visit attractions during New Year’s Eve include the Hagia Sophia, ancient ruins, and the Bosphorus Bridge. These places offer a unique blend of tradition and modernity.

What are some New Year traditions in Turkey?

While not exclusive to Turkey, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is a popular tradition believed to bring luck for the coming year. Additionally, exchanging small gifts, making New Year’s resolutions, and enjoying family dinners are common customs.

What are the popular locations for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey?

Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Cappadocia, Bodrum, Belek, and Marmaris are some of the popular cities in Turkey known for their vibrant New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Are there any special events or performances during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

During New Year’s Eve in Turkey, you can find a variety of special events and performances, including musical concerts, dance performances, and live music shows. These events offer a great opportunity to enjoy good food and entertainment and celebrate with others.

What are some outdoor activities to enjoy during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Turkey has diverse landscapes that allow for outdoor activities. Ski resorts are popular during the winter season, offering opportunities for ski lovers to hit the slopes. Coastal areas provide beautiful beaches, scuba diving, and golf courses for those seeking outdoor adventures.

Are there any unique New Year’s Eve traditions in Turkey?

While not unique to Turkey, watching fireworks displays and raising Turkish flags to commemorate the new year are common traditions. Additionally, enjoying Turkish tea and roasted turkey during the festivities is also a popular practice.

What are some delicious dishes to try during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Turkey is famous for its cuisine, and on New Year’s Eve, you can savor delicious dishes. Some popular dishes include roasted turkey, special Cappadocian wine, and various traditional Turkish desserts.

What are some recommended places to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Istanbul?

In Istanbul, Taksim Square, rooftop bars, popular restaurants, and Bosphorus cruises are recommended for New Year’s Eve celebrations. These locations offer stunning views, live music concerts, and a festive atmosphere.

Are there any restrictions or closures during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

During New Year’s Eve, some administration buildings, government offices, and businesses may operate with limited hours. However, major tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants are generally open to cater to visitors.

Is it advisable to make pre-bookings for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey?

Yes, it is advisable to make pre-bookings for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Turkey, especially for popular venues and events. This helps ensure that you secure your spot and avoid disappointment due to overwhelming crowds.

Can I spend New Year’s Eve in a small town in Turkey?

While big cities like Istanbul are known for their grand celebrations, spending New Year’s Eve in a small town in Turkey can also provide an unforgettable experience. These towns often offer a more intimate and cozy atmosphere.

Are there any cultural customs or superstitions associated with New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

Yes, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is considered a sign of good luck in Turkish tradition. Additionally, making New Year’s resolutions is a common practice to reflect on the past year and set goals for the future.

What can I expect during New Year’s Eve in Turkey?

During New Year’s Eve in Turkey, you can expect a festive and lively atmosphere with celebrations, fireworks, and people coming together to enjoy the start of a new year. The country’s rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality make it a great place to celebrate this special occasion.

What are some popular activities to do in Turkey during the New Year holidays?

During the New Year holidays in Turkey, you can enjoy a variety of activities such as exploring historical sites, going on cultural trips, enjoying outdoor adventures, visiting museums and art galleries, or simply spending quality time with loved ones.

Is it safe to travel to Turkey for New Year’s Eve?

Turkey is generally safe for tourists, but it is always advisable to stay informed about the current travel advisories and take necessary precautions. It is also recommended to follow local guidelines and practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.


  1. Ringing in the New Year in Istanbul was quite the scene! I found myself amidst a sea of people, the city absolutely buzzing with energy. It was super crowded, making it a bit challenging to move around. The fireworks, though, weren’t as spectacular as I’d hoped – a bit on the dull side, honestly.

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