With less than three weeks to go, excitement is building for the first Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival, which will be held at the Chingford Rugby Club in East London on Sunday 25 June – the first day of Ramazan Bayramı.
Organised by the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations UK (CTCA UK), or Konsey as it is more commonly known, this family-friendly all-day jamboree is a chance to savour the tastes, sounds and vibes of Turkish Cyprus. There will be entertainment in the form of music, comedy theatre and dance, as well as stalls selling handicrafts, and freshly made sweet and savoury foods.
London’s legendary Turkish Cypriot band The Kelebekler, led by Osman Kelebek, will play a special set. Also on the line-up are veteran rockers SOS from Cyprus, pop singers Bora Serbülent and Zülal, and wedding party favourite Kıbrıs Dörtlüsü (Cyprus Quartet) & DJ Ahmet who guarantee to have people of all ages dancing.
There will be Cypriot comedy sketches from Osman Balıkçıoglu Cabaret Theatre group, and folk dancing from four of London’s leading Turkish schools: Ali Rıza Degirmencioglu, Dr. Fazıl Küçük, Hornsey Atatürk and Southgate Turkish Schools.
It’s also a day for kids to put down their tablets and mobiles, and instead enjoy traditional games with their parents and grandparents. Play tavla (background), pirilli (marbles), ip atlama (skipping), egg race, and guess ‘how many sweets in the jar’ and ‘the weight of the cake’. And there are donkey rides, a helter-skelter, and workshops for those curious about Turkish Cypriot arts, crafts and cuisine: watch and learn how to create koza lefkara (silk lace) and traditional clay pots, and how to make hellim and yogurt.
The festival is a precursor to Turkish Cypriots celebrating their centenary in Britain, which will officially kick off in November this year. Commenting on this important milestone, CTCA UK chairwoman Leyla Kemal said:
“For the past 100 years, we have laid down community roots wherever we have migrated and created our very own little Cyprus. We brought art, culture, and business. We set up our football clubs. We safeguarded our togetherness and managed to survive and to stand tall.”
She added, “This festival is our cultural investment for the future. It’s hard to believe there’s never been a Turkish Cypriot festival given how large the community is. And while it’s been tough organising the event, our army of volunteers are super-excited: it will be a fantastic day out for everyone involved!”
Today, an estimated 250,000 Britons are thought to have Turkish Cypriot ancestry. The community is no longer concentrated in London, but living all across the country. It’s for this reason Konsey is keen for its new festival to become an annual fixture in the social calendar, helping to bring people together to celebrate their roots.
The festival will run from 11am to 8pm and is free to enter. No prior registration or tickets are required – just turn up on the day. There is ample car parking at the venue and for those relying on public transport Chingford Rugby Club is serviced by several buses (215, 97, 313, 397) – some routes involve a short walk.
Community groups are also organising buses from North and South London to the festivalvenue, costing £5 each way. For more details of pick-up/drop off points and to book your place, please contact Konsey. Their contact details and more information about the festival can be found on their website.
Title: 1st Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival
Date: Sunday 25th June 2017
Event times: 11am – 8pm
Venue address: Chingford Rugby Club, Lea Valley Playing Fields, 291 Waltham Way, Chingford, London E4 8AW
Entrance: free of charge
For more info: www.ctcauk.com