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The Istanbul Shopping Fest, June 9 to 29, when participating businesses will be selling their merchandise day and night at big discounts, is an event that far exceeds the usual shopping days buying and selling in a festive atmosphere replete with entertainment and artistic activities. The Shopping Fest aims to turn the city, now a regional shopping Mecca as well as one of a handful of such around the world, into a shopping and entertainment carnival. To clinch this perception, the fest intends to raise world awareness of the Istanbul brand to that of a New York, London or Milan.

Cities have been home to traditional trade guilds and organizations for centuries, organizations that contribute enormously to the economic growth of their cities. Europe abounds with examples. Istanbul at the same time is a city rich in history, culture and natural beauty, all of which bring pleasure to people. More recently it has also seen the opening of countless high-quality shopping centers. The city’s avenues too are lovely. Combining cultural and natural riches with shopping and entertainment, the Istanbul Shopping Fest aims to extend this into a tradition for centuries to come.

But the Istanbul Shopping Fest offers far more than mere bargains and discount shopping. Pairing the concept of shopping with concerts, street celebrations and parties, the festival is bringing a sense of gusto and celebration to shopping. Rapidly on the way to becoming a shopping Mecca, Istanbul is also emerging as a destination worth visiting over and over again for entertainment, fashion, finance and tourism.

A perfect blend of East and West, Istanbul is a city where everyone can find what he’s looking for. Boasting luxury shopping malls with the world’s leading brands, the city also harbors a whole other world in its sprawling Grand Bazaar, distilled from centuries of tradition.

While you’re spending your Istanbul days shopping till you drop, don’t forget to take in the city’s historic venues as well, because the world’s most beautiful mosques, museums teeming with monuments of eastern as well as western civilization, and restaurants offering unique tastes make this a city second to none in the world. A boat tour on the Bosphorus, an outing to the Prince’s Islands, the pleasure of smoking a narghileh at Tophane, a stroll down İstiklal Avenue – all are excellent ways of spending your time left over from shopping. And the city’s Historic Peninsula is an absolute must-see.

Kicking off with a concert on the evening of June 8, the Istanbul Shopping Fest runs through the 29th.

• 7 p.m., Friday, June 8: Taksim Concert (with Hadise, Group Model, Zalinde Dance Ensemble and DJ Funky C).
• 12 noon, June 9 Istiklal Avenue procession (European side)
• 5 p.m., June 9 Bağdat Avenue procession (Anatolia side)
• June 9 Trump Towers Shopping Party
• June 13 Bakırköy DJ Street Party
• June 15 Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) Concert
• June 16 Akmerkez Shopping Center Party
• June 20 Nişantaşı DJ Street Party
• June 22 Bağdat Avenue DJ Street Party
• June 23 Metrocity and Akbatı Shopping Center Parties
• June 25 Open Air Concert
• June 27 Nancy Ajram Concert
Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Outdoor Scene
• Dates subject to slight changes.

Events will take place at stores, shopping centers and other venues around Istanbul during Shopping Fest 2012 when the city will be transformed into an entertainment center for 21 days and 21 nights with fashion shows, street festivals, concerts, musical events, parties, and competitions as well as performances and fashion shows by groups coming from abroad. In addition to promotions, prize draws and discounts of up to 50 percent, one shopping center each on the European and Anatolian sides of the city will host a party every weekend.

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