And now for something completely different. Cappadox in Cappadocia is a festival that is a pathway through history and an exploration of art, food, music, and interconnectedness in one of humanity’s most ancient sites.
The magical landscape of Cappadocia will once again host the Cappadox festival, now in its third year, from May 18–21. Held amid the lunar landscape of fairy chimneys, picturesque valleys, and houses carved into rock, Cappadox is a festival for all the senses, with the goal to enable people to reconnect with themselves, each other, and the earth. The festival features four sections: music, contemporary art, gastronomy, and outdoor activities.
This year, star musicians Mercan Dede, Acid Pauli, and Yasmine Hamdan will be joined by many others. One of the highlights this year is Hamdan, an extraordinary vocalist drawing inspiration from 20th century female Arab singers. The festival’s concerts by world-class musicians at sunrise, sunset, and under the full moon will bring the magic of the heavens down to earth. Among this year’s performers are those who specialize in neoclassical, psychedelic, ambient, electronic, folk, and Turkish rock music.
The festival’s mix of music and contemporary art has drawn comparisons with Burning Man in the U.S. Artists from countries as far afield as Germany and Brazil are descending on Cappadocia to articulate their visions.
No cultural festival in Turkey would be complete without food. Festival-goers will be able to explore Turkish cheeses from different regions of the country as well as Cappadocia's grapes with Levon Bağış and Nilhan Aras. Picnic sessions in Dibidiyalağı will highlight traditional Turkish dishes prepared by local women and the Open Fire Cooking event will give attendees a taste of Turkey in the magical atmosphere of Cappadocia.
For those who like to feel their blood pumping as they draw in fresh air, Cappadox is a dream destination. Hiking trails with conveniently placed picnic spots and bike rides through the stunning valleys are an unforgettable way to feel in tune with the environment. Yoga is also an integral part of the festival along with different types of meditation. Qi Gong and yoga classes will help create a centered state in this meditative environment. It is this kind of detail that makes Cappadox a little different from an ordinary music or arts festival, as visitors are invited to connect with their surroundings in more personal and less tangible ways.
Not to be missed
The soft volcanic rock of Cappadocia allowed ancient Phrygians, Romans, and Greeks to dig incredible cities under the earth. The largest so far is in Derinkuyu - these subterranean tunnels could house 20,000 people along with their animals. A large part of the tunnels is open to tourists, who can walk through churches, wine cellars, and kitchens without seeing the light of day.
Selime cathedral and monastery was carved into a mountain of rock, giving it the appearance of a giant ant hill. Inside are various churches whose pillars, altars, and niches were all chipped out of the mountain by ancient Christians.
No visit would be complete without a walk around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Göreme Open-Air Museum. This complex of Byzantine churches includes the spectacular frescoes of Karanlık Church, as well as a host of smaller churches, monasteries, and chapels.
Where to stay
Museum Hotel in Üçhisar is a unique luxury hotel in the region, being one of the French Relais & Chateaux network’s 500 hotels and gourmet restaurants. The hotel’s location within a traditional stone house close the the Üçhisar fortress offers stunning views across the landscape.
The House Hotel is located in the untouched area of Ortahisar, whose volcanic rock formation acts as a natural castle. Guests can experience village life from the comfort of the hotel - explore the ancient winemaking and hammam rituals within the original features of the stone-carved rooms.
Sacred House Hotel offers a touch of Gothic spirituality in Ürgüp, with sumptuous decor inspired by Christian iconography. If you think you can survive the “Inferno” room, head from there to the hammam and spa treatments.
argos in Cappadocia is another hotel in Üçhisar, located in a network of cave houses and underground tunnels. The stone rooms are like a step back in time, though each is complete with the modern luxuries.
How to get there
As one of Turkey’s most popular destinations, Cappadocia is well connected to the country’s travel networks. Plus, if you buy a Voyager Package ticket, the organizers will arrange a shuttle connection for you from the airport to the festival.
By air: From Istanbul (or any Turkish city), fly to Nevşehir or Kayseri. From the airport, take a shuttle or a taxi. The Nevşehir airport is half an hour from Cappadocia, while Kayseri’s is one hour away.
By road: From Istanbul, take the highway to Ankara. From there it is another 270-kilometer drive to Cappadocia.
By rail: If you want to be a little nostalgic, why not get to Cappadocia by train? From Istanbul’s Pendik station, get the high-speed train to Ankara. In Ankara, change to a classic train to Kayseri, or book a bus directly to Nevşehir and Göreme. For more information and tickets go to www.tcdd.gov.tr or www.seat61.com