The Whirling Dervishes Festival is an important religious and cultural event that is held in Konya, Turkey, each year. The exact date of the celebration is based on the Islamic religious calendar, and as such, varies from year to year. However, the event is almost always held in November or December, as it will be this season. Individuals who have an interest in taking part in this important and wonderful festival should consider planning a trip to Konya, a city located about 10 hours from Istanbul, this winter.

This year, the Whirling Dervishes Festival will begin on December 10 and continue until the 17th. The last day of the week-long event is typically the most festive and celebratory, as it commemorates the union of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, a revered Sufi saint, with Allah. In fact, the entire festival is dedicated to Rumi, as the religious figure is normally called, a man that preached love, tolerance and forgiveness. Rumi also taught his followers that it is possible to forge a connection with God by dancing through the streets in joy, which is why his followers whirl around the city in an amazing dance during this festival.

Thousands of Sufi Muslim pilgrims flock to Konya, Turkey, each year to celebrate the Whirling Dervishes Festival. In a ceremony known as Sema, Rumi’s religious followers participate in an intricate dance each evening, in which they quickly move and spin around in beautiful white and colored skirts. The ceremony is split into seven different parts, each of which is set to a distinct musical theme called a selam. Over the course of the night, the music changes from eerie to haunting to beautiful as the dancers continue their amazing whirling movements.

Although travelers may not identify as Sufi Muslim, the Whirling Dervishes Festival is still an event worth attending. The joyful way in which the religious pilgrims dance and celebrate their love for Rumi is truly magical, and although not all visitors to Knoya will participate, it is still an amazing phenomenon to observe. Individuals who decide to plan a trip to Turkey this December should keep in mind, however, that though this festival is an exciting and beautiful thing to watch, it also has a great deal of religious importance to those who celebrate it. As such, travelers should be sure to adopt a respectful attitude when visiting.