Chasing Fantasy In Turkey: Echoes From Agartha’s 2023 Edition In Cappadocia

Set in central Turkey’s otherworldly Cappadocia region, this year’s iteration of the Echoes From Agartha festival continued to tell its elusive story. The festival is based on the mythical underground city of Agartha, said to have housed the survivors from Atlantis for thousands of years.

When surrounded by the mysterious fairy chimneys and other rock formations that define this part of Turkey, the thought of a hidden civilization doesn’t seem so far-fetched; this is, after all, the crossroads of the ancient Mesopotamian and Anatolian cultures. With its fertile mythologies, abundance of history and rugged landscape, Cappadocia remains a perfect, highly photogenic stage for Echoes From Agartha.

Started by two brothers, the festival draws around 2,000 lucky attendees a year, merging art and music in a highly choreographed production. And yet, the effect itself is spontaneous, as if a community of revelers sprung from the ground to create an alternate, temporary world in the middle of the Turkish badlands.

Speaking to the festival’s founding duo, it became clear how the seemingly impossible operation came together. A penchant for Turkish history, combined with the allure of the destination made it possible to have film and fantasy converge, all under the Agartha brand.

Brothers Yagiz and Yalim Acar founded Echoes From Agartha at the tail end of the pandemic in hopes of reconnecting with their home country. After falling in love with Cappadocia’s mythical feel, Yagiz remembered his mother’s stories of Atlantis, a regional legend now known all over the world. With everything starting to come together conceptually, the logistics of hosting a festival in this remote part of Turkey began to take shape.

Yagiz calls the brothers’ project an “alternate mythology called Agartha,” where storytelling and filling in the blanks becomes part of the experience. Yalim likens this process to “awakening a lost kingdom,” where festival goers call themselves Agarthans and adopt an ancient city, albeit only for a few days. Only about 1,700 tickets were sold for this year’s event, despite there being 30,000 hopeful registrants. Attendees were able to choose from three price tiers, the highest of which included daily excursions, party access, workshops, cultural tours and more.

One of the main details that sets Echoes From Agartha apart from similar happenings is the event’s uncanny ability to mesh with the severity of the natural landscape around it. The brothers describe the performance areas within the festival as “All natural, spectacular venues with their own capacity,” which emphasizes the event’s relatively small size.

Venues this year included the haunting valley of IO, the Zion canyon, and the rooftop Yunak Evleri, where guests were able to dance under the sunset. The Saruhan Caravansy, just added this year ,invited guests to enjoy the show in the comfort of a historic roadside inn. This year’s list of performers included Bedouin, Blond:ish, the Echonomist, Borak, Cihangir Cinar, Eda, Ezgi, Zoe Dona, The Ace Brothers and more. Artists, designers, and music lovers used the festival as an opportunity to showcase their best selves, in spurts of color, innovative costumes, and more. In fact, the fashion displayed at the event evolved into its own spin on Agartha, with standout pieces blurring the lines between costume and identity.

Each year, the event is spread out across multiple hotels and venues, and a community begins to build around them naturally. The goal is to give attendees a “Utopian experience” of belonging. The crowd, which includes guests from over fifty countries, is transported from the ordinary to the decidedly extraordinary.

The festival’s creative team presents various visuals, costumes and more, all meant to highlight Agartha’s charisma. The public brought their own take on Agarthan style, which added an organic dimension to the aesthetic conceived behind the scenes. Despite the risks involved, the festival team are bent on finding the perfect venues, overcoming logistical hurdles and organizing Echoes From Agartha year after year. Securing a location includes multiple scouting trips and drone journeys over unforgiving terrain.

When asked if the festival was set to grow larger and increase its capacity, Yagiz balked at the idea of losing the event’s identity to an expansion plan. For now, Echoes From Agartha will remain exclusive, temporarily tucked into an ancient landscape where anything is possible.

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