In addition to State opera, ballet, theater and philharmonic performances, concerts, and recitals are staged regularly in various venues around town, including in the gloriously ancient Aya Irini (Hagia Irene) in Topkapi Palace and the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall (tel. 0212/232-9830; www.crrks.org). Is Bank also maintains a prestigious cultural center, including a number of galleries and an 800-seat concert hall in the Is towers in Levent (tel. 0212/316-1083; www.issanat.com). For a comprehensive schedule of performances, check out the government's website at www.kultur.gov.tr or log onto the venues' websites for upcoming events. Biletix (www.biletix.com), the Turkish arm of Ticketmaster, is also a good starting point for upcoming concerts. The Mymerhaba expat website (www.mymerhaba.com) is also a great resource for real-time listings of performances and events in Istanbul.
The annual International Istanbul Festival (tel. 0212/334-0700; www.iksv.org) is organized into four separate arts festivals averaging over 50 events yearly. The festival kicks off with the Film Festival in April, including two national and international competitions. Past festivals saw the screening of over 175 films in a variety of venues in Beyoglu and Kadiköy. The theater section of the festival brings companies from all over Europe and takes place in May, with one or two offerings in English. At the end of October or in early November, selected international artists come together for the Biennial, but the big to-do takes place in June/July with the International Istanbul Music Festival, representing the worlds of opera, jazz, classical music, and ballet in evocative settings like the St. Irene, and featuring world-renowned performers like Wynton Marsalis or the traditional performance of Der Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) appropriately staged in Topkapi Palace. A separate Jazz Festival, sponsored by Efes Pilsen, takes place in November in various venues around town, including local jazz clubs, cultural centers, and the open-air theater above Taksim. Tickets to all concerts and performances are available either at the box office or via Biletix (www.biletix.com).
Istanbul Biennial -- Istanbul has been celebrating a Biennial since 1987, but it wasn't until 2005, perhaps because of the anchorage of the new Istanbul Modern Museum, that the Biennial hit a home run. Artists were clustered around the revived neighborhood of Galata in venues that included an old apartment block, a tobacco depot, a Customs warehouse, and an office building. Previous exhibitions were housed in the Imperial Mint, in the Kiz Kulesi (Maiden's Tower), in SantralIstanbul (a former electric generating plant), in the Customs "antrepo" warehouse buildings in Kayaköy, on the Bosphorus Bridge, and in Çemberlitas Hamami.
For information on venues, tickets, and artists, contact the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (tel. 0212/334-0700; www.iksv.org).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.