Summer in Istanbul is hot and humid. Winter usually hits around October and lasts until April, and the months from November and February see a fair amount of rain. All the surrounding water generally keeps the temperature above freezing, but a cold wind blows off the frozen Balkans and there's an occasional dusting of snow. May and September are pleasant and the most comfortable times for exploring.
Istanbul Film Festival. Every April for two weeks, the Istanbul Film Festival presents films from Turkey and around the world, giving film buffs a great opportunity to see contemporary Turkish cinema subtitled in English. Screenings are held mainly in Beyoğlu, as well as in Nişantaşı and Kadıköy. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance, as seats are reserved and the festival is extremely popular. www.iksv.org.
April also sees Istanbul's Tulip Festival, when parks all over the city become a riot of color.
The well-regarded Istanbul Music Festival, held during several weeks in June, features mostly classical music performed by world-class musicians.
The Istanbul Jazz Festival is generally held in the first two weeks of July and brings in major names, new and old, from Turkey and around the world.
In the fall, the Istanbul Biennial is held in odd-number years, while the Istanbul Design Biennial is held in even-number years; both showcase cutting-edge work in venues around the city
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Tickets for all of these events can be ordered online through Biletix (www.biletix.com) or by contacting the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV). At press time, the İKSV had plans to move to a new, yet-to-be-determined location. Istanbul Kültür Sanat Vakfı, Sadi Konuralp Cad. 5, Şişhane, Istanbul, Istanbul, 34435. 212/334–0700. www.iksv.org.