The most important Turkish festival, the festival of Whirling Dervishes or Sufi Whirling as it is popularly called, is held every December with much devotion, and religious celebration. This ceremony is performed by 13th-century–old Mevlevi Order in the honour of Sufi poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi.
Also known as Rumi Dance or Sema Dance, the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey are a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage status. Any visit to Turkey seems incomplete without a glimpse of the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul or the birth place of the Mevlevi Sufis – Konya.
If you’re eager to attend a live Turkish Whirling Dervishes dance, here’s where you should be heading. This ceremony (sema) can be witnessed by visitors just like you. Keep in mind though that, although it may look a bit like a performance, it is still a religious ceremony. Refrain from talking, leaving your seat or taking pictures with a flash while the dervishes are spinning.
Sufi Festival in Konya
The Mevlana Museum or Rumi’s shrine not only houses the tombs of prominent Dervishes but you can also see the live act of the whirling Dervishes who perform near it. The Mevlana festival normally starts on 10th December and ends on 17th December with much celebration and aplomb.
This is a very popular Turkish festival and over one million people visit Konya to see the dervishes dancing to beautiful Turkish Sufi music. So make sure plan your Mevlana Whirling Dervishes Konya tour well in advance for both, the festival tickets as well as accommodation.
How to reach Konya to experience this sufi magic:
Konya is easily accessible by road, rail as well as flight. There are regular bus services to Konya from major Turkish cities like Istanbul, Antalya, Aksaray, Isparta, Ankara, Izmir, and Cappadocia.
High-speed trains run between Ankara and Konya, and Turkish Airlines has several flights each day from Istanbul Airport to Konya Airport.
Whirling dervish in Istanbul
Istanbul has plenty of venues that hold the Rumi dance ceremony, the most famous one being Galata Mevlevihanesi. Also called the Galata Lodge, it is first and only original dervish hall in the Istanbul.
The other Mevlevi Whirling Dervish locations in Istanbul are the Press Museum, the famous Grand Bazaar in Sultanahmet, and the event hall of the Sirkeci train station.
Whirling Dervishes show tickets in Istanbul will normally cost 35 Turkish Liras, but they can go upto 45 Turkish Liras on Saturdays. The Sema dance ceremony can be seen every day from 5:30 pm.
How to reach Istanbul for the soulful Sufi dervishes:
Being Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul is very easily accessible by all the three modes of transport. The easiest gateway to Istanbul is Ataturk Airport, located in the European side, and SabihaGokcen Airport located on the Asian side.
Istanbul’s main train station in Sirkeci has good connectivity all across Europe, and you can also drive in from other European cities in a car to Istanbul.
Apart from offering exciting hot-air balloon adventures over its unique landscape, Cappadocia is also known for having one of the best Whirling Dervishes experiences in Turkey. The Sufi dance ceremonies are usually one hour long and start around 6 pm in winters and 9 pm in summers.
At the end of the show, a religious ‘Serbet’ drink is offered to the viewers. The rate of Whirling Dervish Shows in Cappadocia is around 100 Turkish Liras, including pick-up and drop services.
How to reach Cappadocia for a mesmerizing Sufi ceremony:
Cappadocia is well-connected to the major cities of Turkey. The closest airports are the Erkilet International Airport and Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport. Cappadocia has good number of hotels for accommodation.
There are number of regular bus services to Goreme and Nevsehir towns from various Turkish cities like Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and more. If you plan to travel to Cappadocia by road, you can hire a private car or taxi from Istanbul, Ephesus, Antalya, Ankara and Izmir.