Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is a major annual wrestling competition held in the city of Edirne, Western Turkey. This festival lasts for seven days and features local food, dances, wares, and music every year that runs from June each year.
The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival held the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest consecutively held sporting event in the world. In 2010, it was also added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The festival traces its roots back to 1360 when Ottoman Sultan Orhan sought to keep his soldiers in top physical condition and battle-ready. Today, master wrestlers or Pehlivans are trained in the art of wrestling and must possess demonstrated good moral character traits to be invited. The pehlivans are invited by the Kırkpınar Ağası (Kirkpinar Master) based on their personal qualities and skills. Admission to this event is not taken lightly; invitations are made by our Kırkpınar Ağa based on a traditionally done method: sending a candle with a red base during March months.
During Friday prayers at the start of the festival, participants will come to predominantly wear leather as a sign of welcoming in whatever is coming. The prayers are a blessing for the start of all good things.
The festival’s spiritual dimension is enhanced by praying in the historical city of Edirne, and with 2,000 wrestlers entering the ring for serious competition to win the title of Chief Wrestler.
Kirkpinar is a must-attend festival for anyone who’s interested in experiencing a truly unique tradition! There’s oil wrestling, traditional singing, and dancing. The celebration is full of traditional food, storytelling, and festivities.