Arts, animals and more: Istanbul’s semester break events for kids

As of Friday, Jan. 20, schools in Türkiye have gone on a Fortnight hiatus for the mid-term semester break with classes not set to resume until Monday, Feb. 6. Fortunately, there is a whole Wealth of activities being offered in Istanbul and beyond from workshops, Theatrical performances, museum Tours and much more.

Many museums and cultural centers have organized a special series of events for students to keep them busy during this semester break. But don’t worry if you are far from the city, as there are many online options available as well. These options will make learning fun for kids from the comforts of their homes this winter break.

During half-term semester break for school children throughout Türkiye, Istanbul is rife with activities for kids. (Shutterstock Photo)

Atatürk Cultural Center

Literally located in the heart of Taksim, the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (Atatürk Cultural Center) is a Spectacular arts and cultural center that not only hosts opera, Classical music and Theatrical performances, but also has a Çocuk Sanat Merkezi (Children’s Art Center) that will have workshops for children between the ages of four to 11 throughout the semester break. The wide variety of workshops to be held in the next few weeks include introductory classes to musical instruments such as piano, ukulele and cello to script-writing and film appreciation, arts and crafts, acting and dance. Proceeds from the workshops will go to supporting stray animals.

Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing DigiZoo exhibition in which 30 animals are depicted digitally through holographs in their own natural habitat, including dinosaurs dating back 230 million years. The exhibition will be open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and entry will be free of charge. Meanwhile, the newly renovated AKM center also houses Türkiye’s legendary Yeşilçam Sinema Theater besides a music recording studio, a library, design shop and half a dozen coffee shops and cafes making it well worth a visit for anyone of any age.

The AKM continues to host opera, ballet, theatrical and musical productions. Some of the performances include Carmen, La Boheme and Hamlet, which are all performed by the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet. AKM will also host plays prepared for children such as “Red Riding Hood” and “Frog Prince” and a Theatrical production narrating the story of Türkiye’s legendary Ahmed Çelebi who is said to have achieved the first unpowered sustained flight in the 17th century when he took off from Galata Tower and Landed in Üsküdar.

Dinosaur World Live

The impressive interactive dinosaur puppet show hailing from the United Kingdom will be taking the stage at the Maximum Uniq Hall in Maslak between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. After garnering praise all over the world, this will be a great opportunity for children to learn about the Tyrannosaurus Rexes of our past. The 50-minute show will take place daily at 1:00 pm followed by a 15-minute meet and greet with the dinosaur puppets. Also of note, the Uniq Hall complex also houses an outdoor ice-skating ring in winter and has an Adventure park in the forest with rope walking, high tree climbing and zipline apparatus.

Pera Museum online, in-person

Istanbul’s legendary Pera Museum in Beyoğlu’s Asmalı Mescit neighborhood will be hosting online and in-person workshops throughout the semester break for students between the ages of seven to 17. From creating dioramas to mask-making and illustrating stories to Escape room games, the workshop will host museum Tours with teachers and a lot more. The museum has several workshops and activities in-store with some being in-person at the museum itself and others offered online. Also, keep in mind, every Wednesday, the Pera Museum offers free entry for students.

Istanbul Modern’s online art Tours

The Istanbul Modern Museum in Karaköy will be hosting five online semester break arts courses for children between the ages of four to 12. The program will include a virtual tour of the museum followed by applied arts classes focusing on perspective, colors, figures, lines and objects in which participants will create their own artwork with easy-to-source materials at home. Meanwhile, as the museum is yet to reopen its doors since the Pandemic closure, the impressive building designed by the well-known architect Renzo Piano recently made it to a list of the top 52 places to visit in the world published by The New York Times .

From Mona Lisa to the Galaxy

The Istanbul Toy Museum in Göztepe also has a long list of ongoing entertaining workshops this week from creating dinosaur dioramas, galactic journals, repurposing materials into instruments, creating frames, painting wooden toys to learning about artistic Trends of Cubism and Art Nouveau besides half a dozen Theatrical and Puppetry performances. There will also be a special space-related program for children in which a space engineer will share details of life as an astronaut.

Student’s workshop Wonderland

Located in Acıbadem, KidZania has created a world designed for children to discover and experience different professions that are possible on this planet. From mini-banks to Archeological museums, discos, emergency rooms, bakeries, Chemistry labs, aviation, police station, newspaper office and veterinary offices to an aviation center, the sky literally is the limit.

While the entry ticket is a bit pricey, this semester break is a great time to take advantage of the unique experience as there will be a series of extra events and workshops offered such as gift-giving raffles, cooking workshops, coding, percussion and gardening to name just a few.

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