Douse yourself in olive oil, throw on the old cowhide slacks and ready yourself for the ultimate display of machismo at the world’s oldest annual sporting event. Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships is a week-long, one-on-one wrestling competition held each July in the Turkish town of Edirne. While there’s no discrimination against cultures, regions and ages for those who enter the comp, Pehlivan (wrestlers) are highly experienced and there’s no judgment here if you opt to be a mere spectator at this exciting meet.

Macho, macho man

Generosity, honesty and respectfulness are the key attributes of Pehlivans, wrestlers who converge on Turkey’s Edirne for Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships. This week-long event has been held for over 650 years with these exemplary figures in society still as oily, leathery and hot (sweaty!) as ever for the event. Forty bands of davul drums and zurna shawms (conical oboes) appear in the open ceremony and citywide procession before the Pehlivans fight for the Kirkpinar Golden Belt and the title of Chief Pehlivan. Held at the Men’s Field, Pehlivans, dressed in kipet (trousers made of thick leather), warm up as they are oiled before the drums beat again and the wrestling begins.

Thousands of spectators flock to see Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships as well as enjoy the cheery festival steeped in tradition that runs alongside the wrestling. There are traditional food stalls, costumes, performances and gypsy bands plus the camaraderie of the crowd makes you feel all tingly.   Student Flights can get you and your mates to the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships with a tailor-made tour that includes flights, transfers, accommodation and more. Or ask us how you can incorporate Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships into a larger tour or Turkey.


When is it?

29th June 2015 to 05th July 2015

Tips and tricks

  • Thousands visit Edirne for Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships. Ask Student Flights to book your flights and accommodation in advance.

  • Know your oil wrestling moves? There are three ways to win – tearing your pants, carrying your opponent over your shoulders for three steps or pinning their shoulders to the ground at the same time.

  • Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships is held at the Men's Field, within walking distance or a short cab ride from most places in Edirne.

  • The wrestling runs in heats each day with the finals falling on the Sunday.

  • Spend a few hours at the wrestling each day and spend the rest of your time exploring Edirne.

  • Reach Edirne via a flight to Ataturk International Airport (IST) in Istanbul, then take a three-hour bus ride or a four-hour train ride to Edirne.