Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival (Kirkpinar) – Talking About Some Serious Macho Throwdowns and Oiled Up Matches!

Dedicated to the art of making some serious human contact, the Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival is one wrestling match you don’t want to miss!

To the Death!

turkish oil wrestling


Kirkpinar is one of the world’s oldest festivals! And although wrestlers don’t fight to the death, they wrestle until they are the last man standing.

Kirkpinar or the Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival is one of the oldest festivals around the world! And although wrestlers don’t fight to the death, they wrestle until they are the last man standing. Each year, thousands of people come to Edirne, Turkey to watch or participate in the largest wrestling match on earth. The winner of this weeklong throwdown gets the Kirkpinar Golden Belt and earns the title, Chief Pehlivan, or chief wrestler.

History of Kirkpinar
This festival actually got its start in the 14th century as Ottoman raiders were waiting for battle. These 40 soldiers grew bored and began wrestling each other. The final two remaining men kept wrestling throughout the night and were discovered dead when morning came. After their bodies were buried, a spring of water appeared where the two soldiers say. The stream ran towards the Kirkpinar Meadow and the soldiers saw it fitting to name this site after it. Kirkpinar translates to “40 sources”, just like the first soldiers to compete in the wrestling match.

What to Expect at the Wrestling Festival
Be prepared to either watch most of the fun from the sidelines or get down and dirty yourself! If you’re ready to get rolling, you need to know that you might be in for a world of pain. Take some time before the actual festival to practice proper rolling techniques so you can avoid the brunt of the injuries.

While the majority of the festival’s attendees are only spectators, watching people hurt themselves over a ball of cheese is really the main attraction here. If you are squeamish or can’t see blood, this festival is not for you! For those standing and watching, be prepared to stand for a while in the hot sun. There will be a lot of people next to you so you might not have room to sit either.

What to Wear to  Kirkpinar
The Turkish Wrestling Festival  is one of those festival’s that you can wear whatever you want to without feeling like you are newbie. Though, many attendees that are participating wear outrageous costumes. Do yourself a favor and check out pictures of past Kirkpinars so you can get a good idea of what to bring for your own costume. When it comes to spectator fashion, don’t wear your BEST clothing though as you are going to be at an outdoor festival and you will get dirty.

Throughout the Turkish Wrestling Festival experience, your outfit plans should include all kinds of weather. Summer in Turkey can mean sun and rain, so you would do best to bring several different types of clothes! For starters, have at least one waterproof coat with you to protect you from the rain and cold nights. Take a sweater as well as extra layers and mittens for when the temperature continues to fall. During the days when the sun is out and about, wear shorts, short dresses and tight pants.

Try to avoid dressing in loose pants, skirts, or dresses in case of a sudden down pour or an onslaught of mud. Wear rain boots, normal boots, sneakers or any waterproof closed toed shoe you can find. Keep in mind that you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, so make sure your shoes are broken in before the Turkish Wrestling Festival.

The Game and the Rules
Turkish Wrestling Festival is pretty similar to traditional wrestling, it just has three simple rules for a win. Wrestlers win their match when they pin the shoulders of their opponent to the ground, have your kisbet (wrestling garment) torn, or carrying your opponent on your shoulders three steps.

Every year, men from around the world gather in Edirne to sign up to compete in the wrestling matches. These men can come from any religion, race, or culture to compete in the games. In Turkish society, all fighters in the Turkish Wrestling Match are seen as modern heroes and held in high regard throughout the community. These wrestles have courage, bravery, and tenacity and are willing to fight for honor.

With such violent tactics allowed, things can get out of hand very quickly. To try to cut down on the amount of injuries and outside fighting, a referee and six linesmen are always on the field to call fouls or help injured men off the field. If you are watching from the sidelines, be careful, you never know what may happen.

Who Comes to Kirkpinar?
The matches of Kirkpinar really can be enjoyed by the entire family. The festival of today begins with largely ornate parades and heavily decorated costume, the event has grown into a full on celebration. Following all the pre-festival activity, the real game begins when the men are ready to fight.

Many people who choose to celebrate in modern times are excited and passionate about Turkish history. While anyone is really invited to the festival, some parents from other countries may find it is a good idea to let children stay home.

Tickets and Pricing

turkish oil wrestling


The Turkish Wresting Festival typically lasts around seven days in July. The majority of your money will be spent on traveling accommodations and food, not tickets.

The Turkish Wresting Festival typically lasts around seven days in July. The majority of your money will be spent on traveling accommodations and food, not tickets.The event of Turkish Wrestling is relatively inexpensive but may be purchased online closer to the starting date of the event. If you are traveling into Turkey, prepare to spend a lot of money on your roundtrip tickets. Try purchasing them early so you have the best options for lodging and hotel choices.

When choosing tickets for the Turkish Oil Wrestling festival, there are several different pricing options. When purchasing tickets, try to minimize the wait time. If you can’t purchase tickets in advance, you may be able to to find tickets right at the opening gates. However these quick fixes are often more expensive.

Experiencing the Turkish Oil Wrestling festival in person is intense. You need to be well prepared if you plan to stay the entire nine day period. Before you get to the event, make sure you are well rested, hydrated, and in the mood to party! Plan to arrive early, because Kirkpinar festivities start very early the first day of the festival.

Once you arrive, you should plan out the events you want to see and what you want to do each day. The great thing about having a weekend festival is that you have the time and opportunity to see and do everything. No matter what day of the festival it is, expect to do a lot of walking and sweating—most events are outdoors and spread out over the fairgrounds.

Be prepared for what you will witness. If you don’t like blood or fighting at all, this festival is not for you. Try to sit away from the front sections if you are squeamish.

Fare of the Fair: Kirkpinar Has the BestFood
The food at the Turkish Wrestling Festival is a wonderful smorgasbord of every italian delicacy under the sun. From authentic Turkish food and gyros to incredible meats and pastries, all the regulars are here as well as traditional food you may just be hearing of for the first time. Try your best to eat all your meals out in a restaurant or at the event itself. You won’t regret it!

Travel and Lodging
Check the Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival website for local hotels partnering with the festival to try to save on rooms. If you are flying in, it is helpful to come in at least a day before the festival begins in order to recover from jetlag and prepare for the days ahead. Once your flight lands, renting a car or getting a street car or cab is probably your best option if you don’t have accommodations that are within walking distance of the fairgrounds.

When considering refreshments at the Turkish Oil Wrestling, many people choose to spend a lot of their time drinking beer or alcoholic beverages. Watch your drink intake, especially if you are new to the area or it is the middle of the day.  The sun is already dehydrating your body long before you start drinking.

Tips for Kirkpinar
Tips for the Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival range from having a good understanding of all the areas around the event, to making sure you have your money converted before arriving. Because the event can get brutal and may inspire violence in others, try to stay away from large drunken crowds. Using common sense is really all you need to ensure a great experience.

If you don’t want to watch the field from the sunny stands that are right in front of the fighting, try to find your way into one of the surrounding houses and apartments. Many attendees choose to watch the event far away from the actual field.

When it comes to event preparation for your visit to Turkey, keep in mind that the weather often changes unexpectedly so you may want to have an umbrella or poncho on hand. For those that arrive to the festival during the day, bring a hat, bandana, visor, and/or sunglasses to protect against the sun.

So if you’re ready to get your oil wrestling on, make sure you stop by the Turkish Oil Wrestling Festival this summer!

Visit information about festivals section to explore a full list of festivals happening around the world yearly!