North Cyprus Culture

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Folk Dances

Great importance has been given to Folk dances in Turkish Cypriot culture. Folk dances are organised according to the motifs of the traditional behaviour and entertainments – the most popular of these being folk wedding dances. Within the context of the wedding, “kına sirtosu”, “kozan”, “çiftetelli” and other plays can also be staged alongside dance performances. Perfomances will often take place in bright and historically-inspired costumes, which differ according to era, age and gender, and accompanied by various musical instruments to create a sense of spectacle.

The TRNC Folk Dance teams regularly win awards at international festivals.

Other types of dance are also popular in the TRNC. Also there are dance schools all over North Cyprus teaching a range of styles.

International dance festivals are also held throughout the year in the TRNC.


Handicrafts are often the liveliest and most significant expression of a country’s cultural identity. Traditional motifs, colours, and patterns belonging to previous centuries continue to be used on objects produced today in North Cyprus. These objects, which had different functions in the past, are used decoratively today and sometimes in a new, modern context.

Wood carvings, knitting, hand-woven fabrics, silkworm cocoon work, traditional costume and needlework are all produced using traditional techniques specific to North Cyprus. Many handicraft workshops and establishments in the TRNC use traditional production techniques to create, exhibit and sell these works. Courses are also given to promote traditional handicrafts using colours, patterns, and motifs specific to North Cyprus.


The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is an island with a rich heritage of festivals – where children, youth, dance, art and specialties of individual towns are being celebrated and promoted.

Traditional festivals are held every year in local areas of Northern Cyprus, and are particularly popular in the summer season. Traditional forms of entertainment such as fun fairs continue to be a part of festivals today. Traditional food and products are also sold at the festivals, and are often identified according to their local region. Traditional Turkish Cypriot foods, hand-made souvenirs, and handicrafts are also sold during these festivals. Entertainment programmes are varied and range from concerts, fashion shows and beauty contests, to games and fun fairs.

Below are some important festivals in the TRNC:

  • Girne Olive Festival (October)

  • Güzelyurt Orange Festival (June- July)

  • Büyükkonuk Eco Days (May and October)

  • International Bellapais Music Festival (May-June)

  • International Mağusa Culture-Art Festival(June- July)

  • Cyprus Theatre Festival (September)

  • Girne Culture and Art Days

  • Lefke Date Palm Festival


Continuous changes have occurred in Cyprus from 7000 BC to the present day, under the sovereignty of several nations, which have naturally led to the emergence of a distinctive ‘island cuisine’ in Cyprus.

North Cyprus cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavours and presentation. Typical dishes include mezes, desserts, grills, fish dishes, soups and pastries, while a number of indigenous dishes are a must-try for visitors. These include “Hellim” cheese, which is only produced in Cyprus, and the local and traditional “Şeftali Kebab.”


In the TRNC, music, as with many other aspects of modern-day culture, has been widely influenced by the many civilizations passing through Cyprus.

Traditional music in North Cyprus has rich melodies created by the intersection of musical cultures from many different civilizations, and a distinctive rhythm and melodic structure.

National and international music festivals are popular in the TRNC, with many participants from overseas as well as Turkish Cypriot people.

Theatre and Performing Arts

Turkish Cypriot theatre and shadow puppetry have been very popular in the TRNC since antiquity. For centuries, these were the only sources of entertainment for people prior to the advent of television. Even when cinemas were established in towns and cities, it was still difficult for village folk to reach urban centres, hence why shadow plays continued to play a prominent role in cultural life. Theatre has been both a source of entertainment and an instructive medium for the public.

Traditional Turkish audience plays in North Cyprus have adopted an identity intrinsic to North Cyprus both in subject matter and style. In particular, the Shadow Game (Karagöz) has long been a popular play in North Cyprus and has become an indispensable pleasure for Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish Cypriot theatre evolved from traditional Turkish theatre, mirroring its development and eventually opening itself up to the influences of Western theatre. After adopting Western theatre styles and techniques at the beginning of the 20th Century, traditional Turkish Cypriot theatre was gradually forgotten, with Western theatre approach coming to dominate the movement entirely.

Founded in 1963, the first Turkish Cypriot theatre was called ‘First Stage’ and later became known as the Turkish Cypriot State Theatre in 1966. The Turkish Cypriot State Theatre has since staged various plays in the TRNC and abroad.

Today, local and foreign theatre groups also operate alongside the Turkish Cypriot State Theatre. Many local and foreign theatre groups add variety and liveliness to the cultural life of North Cyprus during theatre festivals.

Source: TRNC Public Information Office

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