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Spring and early summer are a lively time for the performing arts in Istanbul. The Istanbul Music Festival, held every June, attracts renowned classical music artists from around the world. Shows take place throughout the city, including in historic buildings such as Aya Irini (in the forecourt of Topkapı Palace) and Rumeli Hisarı. The Istanbul Jazz Festival occurs every July and has grown to include much more than just jazz; recent headliners have included Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Morrissey, and Erykah Badu. The Istanbul Theater Festival takes place in even-numbered years in May, and attracts major stage talent from across the globe. The fall months are a busy time for the visual arts. The Istanbul Biennial runs for one to two months starting in mid-September in odd-numbered years, featuring well-known and emerging contemporary artists from Turkey and abroad. Inaugurated in 2012, the Istanbul Design Biennial focuses on experimental design, with its second edition slated to begin in October 2014.

For upcoming events, reviews, and other information about what to do in Istanbul, pick up a copy of the monthly Time Out Istanbul or the bimonthlyGuide, both of which are English-language publications with listings of restaurants, bars, and events, as well as features about Istanbul. The English-language Hürriyet Daily News and Today's Zaman are also good resources for listings and for keeping abreast of what's happening in Istanbul and in Turkish politics.