Istanbul tulips

The International Istanbul Tulip Festival: Experiencing a Real Turkish Delight

Tulips? Man, they weren’t kidding about the tulips.

In Istanbul, bright swathes of colour line the roadsides and banks of the mighty Bosphorous. Eruptions of deep crimson, blood-red and bright yellow tulips break through the dense early morning fog, encouraging the sun’s rays. Some swaying in beautifully designed formations, others stand proud in bold lines and blocks of colour, but all gleaming in the April sunshine.
I love all spring flowers and there is certainly no shortage in Istanbul in the spring, however it is the tulips that really steal the show, standing tall among waves of rich blue and yellow pansies, fragrant purple hyacinths and cheery yellow daffodils.
Driving over the river and up the hill around Taksim Square, you can’t help being struck by the beauty of the city laid out below. The convolution of history and modern-day couldn’t be more apparent, with the Blue Mosque and Galata Tower keeping space in amongst a sea of modern buildings. I challenge anyone not to fall in love with Istanbul when they visit – a truly cosmopolitan city with a uniquely exotic feeling that comes from the city having one foot in Europe and one in Asia.
The life force of the city flows from Emigram Park in the springtime. Thirty million domestically produced tulip bulbs have been planted across the country for the festival (double the number of last year’s festival), with 2.5 million in this park alone. You can feel the life about to burst forth in the green buds on the trees and the fresh shoots poking through the ground, and despite the crowds of people wandering around the park and posing for pictures amongst the blooms, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and tranquility.
As invited guests of Turkish Airlines, we also joined the Mayor of Istanbul for the unveiling of the ‘World’s Largest Flower Carpet’, situated between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in the cultural and historic heart of Istanbul. The 1,262m2 tulip carpet was made of 545,000 live tulips and was hand-woven, flower by flower, over two nights by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality – and the resulting display a completely unique display of colour and beauty.
Prior to the trip, I had no idea that tulips originated in Turkey. They have actually played a key role in Turkish arts and culture over the years, and were initially given as a gift by the Ottomans to the Dutch, who then started commercial production and drew the world’s attention to their fields. It’s certainly a stunning sight, and I would encourage anyone who is thinking of a trip to Istanbul to consider arranging it during May in order to see the city at its prettiest.