From the Grand Bazaar to New York’s Grand Central

New York, N.Y.   The biggest Turkish Festival in the history of the U.S. — “Turkish Days in New York” — is now upon us.  It is bringing the Grand Bazaar on the beautiful banks of the Bosporus to our own Grand Central – and out to the streets of our city.  Showcasing the Anatolian civilizations, Turkic and Balkan cultures and traditions, as well as modern Turkey, the festivities continue through this Sunday, Oct. 4.  I love Istanbul. To have it recreated here on the Hudson is just awesome!


The festival is organized by the Turkish Cultural Center New York and supported by the Turkish-American Business Improvement & Development Council (TABID).  For the entire week, New Yorkers have been able to check out “Grand Bazaar” booths, dance to the rhythms of the Ottoman Janissary Band and experience the devotion of the Whirling Dervishes.

In addition, we can enjoy the finest Turkic and Balkan folklore performances, watch three contemporary Turkish movies at the New York Film Academy, and explore Turkish arts and crafts. Not to forget being able to taste famous Turkish and Balkan cuisines.

Every year I look forward to this unique cultural week. In fact, the Turkish Festival has now become a tradition which is celebrated not only by Turkish-Americans, Turkic and Balkan nationals together – but with American friends and families like my own.  Last year, more than 25,000 people — most of whom were non-Turkish — visited the Festival in Central Park.  This Friday, Grand Central will be the place to be for “Performing Arts at the Terminal.”

Turkish culture will be featured as a part of the Grand Central-Performing Arts this Friday, October 2 from 8am until 8pm in Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal.  There, a historical tour of Anatolian culture, customs, and architecture will be presented.

The stage is to be a custom-designed stage reflecting the Blue Mosque, with the panorama of Istanbul on one side.  Booths like those found at the world famous Grand Bazaar and Spice Market will be on the other side.


The Whirling Dervishes will bring the atmosphere of Anatolia as the Turkic-Balkan folklore performances are expected to capture the attention of thousands of  commuters  and tourists throughout the day.

New Yorkers will be able to experience both past and present as we get a glimpse of modern Turkey – and see how its traditional arts and crafts and trade and businesses have evolved throughout time.

The Ottoman Janissary Band will play throughout this week’s Turkish Cultural Festival in NYC.

This Sunday, October 4, there will be a street festival – a Grand Bazaar in the City.   It will be set up on 41st  Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, from 10am until 6pm.

One side of the street will offer booths such as those found in the Grand Bazaar.   These booths will showcase the best Turkish cuisines from a wide variety of food vendors. Turkish arts and crafts, cultural, and educational exhibitions will also be presented.

On the other side of the street, New Yorkers will enjoy the beautiful panorama of Istanbul which will make them feel like they are visiting this wonderful Turkish city.   Given the economy, certainly a cheaper alternative.

But make sure someday in your life you make it to Istanbul.   The city has not yet been Disney-fied and Roman  aqueducts  and other antiquities are simply and unadoringly there.   I was stunned the first time I experienced it.

The Turkish Cultural Center, located in New York’s Midtown, is a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of Turkish culture and language in New York and the U.S.

I have attended many events at the Center and written about a few of them, including Secularism: Surprisingly More Popular in Turkey than in U.S. These cultural and historical programs have all been exceptional.

The Turkish Cultural Center exists to strengthen the cultural and educational ties between the peoples of the U.S. and Turkey by placing special emphasis on dialogue, peace, and environmental issues.

The Center’s aim is to make a significant contribution to national and global peace and security by sharing Turkiye’s heritage of tolerance and understanding.   To do Turkey’s part in helping build global citizenship.

The Turkish Cultural Center organizes educational and cultural activities such as international Conferences, lectures and seminars, art exhibits, concerts, film screenings, and  other  informational programs about Turkiye and Turkish Culture.

I cannot recommend this week’s cultural activities nor the Cultural Center more highly.

Originally published in The Huffington Post, September 30, 2009.

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The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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