Whirling dervishes on the Mall, mouthwatering mezes and kebabs, a traditional bazaar downtown — it’s the fourth annual Turkish Heritage Month in Washington. An expansion of D.C.’s popular one-day Turkish Festival, now in its 13th year, the events taking place throughout September are a grassroots effort by the local Turkish-American community to showcase the rich culture of Turkey. “We’re really taking people on a journey — building bridges between the two societies through arts, music and culture,” says Gizem Salcigil White, festival co-chair and president of the American Turkish Association of Washington, D.C. (ATA-DC). Here’s a guide to the festivities.
A joint concert at the Lincoln Memorial brings together the Howard University Gospel Choir with a group from Ankara’s Hacettepe University performing traditional dervish whirling, Sufi music and folk dancing. “We’re trying to show how people of many different faiths come together through music and dance,” ATA-DC’s Hande Ayan says. Sept. 25, 1:30 p.m., free.
Family fun fest
This year’s Turkish Festival features music and dance performances, food vendors, an arts and crafts bazaar, demonstrations of pottery making and paper marbling, and a Turkish coffee fortune-telling tent. Want to feel like a sultan? Head to the Ottoman costume booth and pose for a selfie. Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 12th and 14th streets; Sept. 27,
11 a.m.-7 p.m., free.
A taste of Turkey
During Turkish Restaurant Week, diners can enjoy prix fixe lunch and dinner menus that include specialties like imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant) and Adana kebab at Zaytinya, Ezme, Agora and five other participating restaurants. Turkish food has been “influenced by the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Europe,” Ayan says. “Because of [the history of] the Ottoman Empire, Turkish cuisine combines all these different flavors.” Sat-Sept. 20; see turkishrestaurantweekdc.org for details.
The Freer Gallery of Art kicks off its new “Close Up” film series with two movies by Cagan Irmak, one of Turkey’s most popular writer-directors, who will be present for both screenings. “Are We OK?” (2013) is a moving story about an unlikely friendship between a gay sculptor and a disabled young man, while “Whisper If I Forget” (2014) traces the decades-long rift between two sisters. ‘Are We OK?,’ Sept. 18, 7 p.m., free; ‘Whisper If I Forget,’ Sept. 20, 2 p.m., free.
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