History tends to repeat itself, which means there’s a good chance you’ll get run over by another war elephant. Admire what history has taught us thus far with today’s Groupon: for $11, you get two one-day admission tickets to the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival (up to a $24 value), held 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. October 6–9 at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Children age 6 and younger receive free admission.
The four-day Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival enlightens visitors to the cuisine, music, architecture, and art of Anatolian culture. Five major cities come to life as towering, three-dimensional replicas, recreating landmarks such as Istanbul's Blue Mosque and the Temple of Apollo in Antalya, and the 10th century Akdamar church in the eastern Anatolia region. Visitors can watch videos inside Maiden's Tower, or crawl inside a faux traditional house from the city of Mardin to tickle the fringes handmade carpets until they purr. Costumed staff members dispense historical tidbits and fashion advice at the Gates of Civilization exhibit, which consists of a series of arches ornately designed to resemble storied past cultures, such as the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. After procuring snacks and crafts from the approximately 100 booths of the Grand Bazaar, attendees can meander to the main stage, where whirling dervishes, live folk-dance shows, and attendees with tic-tac-toe grids shaved into the back of their heads entertain viewers throughout the day.
Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival
Although it takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival actually exists at the nexus of thousands of years of Anatolian history. That's the way it feels, at least. Upon arrival, guests begin this trek through time at the Gates of Civilizations, whose waypoints honor 14 historic and present-day nations ranging from the mighty Hittite Empire to the modern Turkish Republic. Towering, ornate arches and a staff of highly knowledgeable costumed actors guide them through this journey, sharing the traditional dress and customs of bygone regional residents including the Ottomans, Romans, Phrygians, and Byzantines.
Once inside, guests can extend their explorations within stunning recreations of nine different Anatolian cities, grabbing lifelike views of everything from the Topkapi Palace—once occupied by Ottoman sultans—or the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the ancient seat of the Armenian Orthodox patriarch. Along the way, they can stop for souvenirs at the bustling Grand Bazaar, where more than 100 vendor hawk traditional Near Eastern good. A traditional Turkish coffeehouse also occupies part of the festival grounds, tempting guests with cups of rich Turkish coffee that par well with the kebabs, stews, and baked goods prepared by the festival’s food vendors.