Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival (Edirne)
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Jul 12, 2012 5:07 AM Last Post By: sarikanarya
Jul 12, 2012 2:10 AM
Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival (Edirne)This is my first post on Thorn Tree. My husband and I are on a 12 month round-the-world trip and use Thorn Tree quite a bit to check out destinations and read about other peoples' experiences and travel tips. So I thought I would share some information about the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival in Edirne as there wasn't much information available on this event when we researched it.
The event is held annually in Edirne, about 2.5hrs north west of Istanbul. It's a real spectacle - men (and boys) don leather pants, cover themselves with olive oil and wrestle each other on a patch of grass in the middle of a stadium packed with cheering Turks (and the odd tourist) while 20 drummers and a dozen clarinets play non stop all day. They have many wrestlers on the field at once and wrestle over a number of rounds. At the end of the event they crown a grand champion. We went to the finals on Sunday 8 July. We took a Metro bus from the otogar in Istanbul to the otogar in Edirne (25TL each). The bus took just under 3 hours to get there. The otogar is a 15 minute taxi ride from the Edirne town centre (22TL).We stayed at the Antik Hotel in the centre of town - we only booked a week before the event and paid 190TL/night for a double room with ensuite (it had a single bed in there as well). The hotel was close to the banks, shops and restaurants and only a 10 minute walk from the stadium.
We booked our tickets to the event through Biletix.com. There were 2 categories - Category 1 tickets for 100TL each and Category 2 for 70TL each. They have a map showing the seating for the stadium and you can choose which area you want to sit in according to your Category. We booked Category 1 tickets and reserved seats in the A2 area which is on the south side of the stadium. We went to the stadium at 8.30am and picked up our tickets from the ticket office. The guy behind the counter spoke English (not many Turkish people do). The gates opened at 9am but the first matches didn't start until 10am. Our tickets were front row seats and were near the water taps where the boys and men cooled off after the wrestling. They were also directly behind the band (did I mention the band plays pretty much non stop all day?). The stadium is covered but some seats were in the sun for most of the day. The south side was good - we were in the shade all day which was good because it's really hot, even in the shade. Drink lots of water.
The seats are plastic so it gets a bit hot and uncomfortable after a few hours. A towel or cushion would be a good idea. There are boys wandering around the stadium all day with cool bottles of water that you can buy from your seat. There are also food and drink stalls outside the stadium where you can buy cheap food and drinks e.g. 5TL for a kebab, 0.5TL for 500ML water, 1TL for 1L water or cans of soft drinks. Around lunch time the queues are quite long. We found it hard to get served as we don't speak Turkish, so they kept serving all the Turkish people behind us. Stand your ground , make some noise and don't budge until they serve you! The toilets (WC's) were turkish-style and (unfortunately) very dirty. Take your own toilet paper!
We had never watched a wrestling match before going to Edirne so didn't really know the rules (or if there were different rules for oil wrestling). The Turkish people are very hospitable and friendly - we had some Turkish guys sitting behind us who spoke English and explained what the rules were and what was happening as the day went on. Some of the wrestling techniques looked a bit suss (they put their hands down each others' pants to try and get a grip on certain bits for leverage!!). Also, the town had a real festival feel to it. There were lights and music and people (including big burly wrestlers) everywhere. It was excellent - we would definitely recommend going to the festival if you get the chance.
Jul 12, 2012 5:07 AM
1Welcome to the forum and thank you for such a great first post!So glad you experienced this wonderful traditional event.Not fully knowing the rules doesn't spoil the atmosphere or enjoyment of this spectacle.
As Bolu is traditionally the home of all Turkey's greatest chefs and cooks so Kırkpınar is the traditional home of Turkeys greatest and most famous greased wrestlers.This years festival was the 661st one!So a very old tradition.
For anyone wondering what this is all about here is a little taster via YouTube.It includes a minute or two of the ritual marching at the start of the bout to warm up and psyche out the oppontent.It also includes some of those 'suspect'hand holds :) To be fair the waistband of the leather pants(kıspet)is about the only place to get a firm grip of one's slippery opponent.
If this looks a good day out to you then there are still some festivals left of this season.
Scroll down the list to 14 Temmuz that is this weekend in Istanbul Çatalça,then Alanya,Kocaeli etc. with the last one in Elmali near Antalya 31/08-02/09.
I'm also going to add this to the trip review sticky as it's a great mini trip review.Then I'm going for a cold shower and a lie down after watching that video LOL!
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