Every May 5 Hidrellez — or Ederlezi in Romani — erupts into the mother of all street parties in the backstreets of Sultanahmet. It is a celebration of spring, and a fusion of the names of the two prophets Hizir (the Green One) and Ilyas. Central to the rites is the practice of writing a wish on a scrap of paper and pinning it to ribbons on great swaths of fabric hung up in the streets. Traditionally, these wishes would be affixed to rose bushes at night, and then found again the following day and thrown out to sea.
This year some opportunistic parties seem to have tried to relocate the celebrations to Park Orman and put on a concert, but to me this seemed like a crass maneuver to steal the thunder from what has traditionally been a truly great street party. I’ve tried to attend every Hidrellez I can since moving to Istanbul, because the local spirit is so great. However, if you’re not keen on crowds, music, raucous fun and dancing in the streets, don’t go. It’s one of those occasions where one minute the darkening streets are empty of everything except lengthening shadows, and the next they’re teeming with party-goers, all of whom are intent on making their wishes come true.
Here’s a small glimpse of the festivities, and my own hope that all those good wishes come true.