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Turpan's local craftspeople churn out a steady supply of arts and crafts, keeping souvenir stands and market stalls adequately supplied, but the local Uighur culture is best known for its music and dancing and, somewhat paradoxically for a Muslim region, its wine. All together, they can make for a pleasant combination, and during high season you should have no problem finding a grape vine trellis-shaded courtyard where you can sit and have a drink (many will prefer a cool beer as a counter to the dry desert heat) and catch some Uyghur song and dance.

The question of authenticity, when it comes to said song and dance, can be a bit sticky, as the surge in tourists from wealthier eastern urbanized China combined with growing numbers of Western visitors has driven a kind of Uighur and Silk Road-themed entertainment boom, and you might get the feeling at times that Uyghur people aren't quite as thrilled to be putting a sanitized and kitsched-up version of their culture on display as the tour guides might like you to believe. Nonetheless, if you get a chance to hear the music played with passion and skill, it's likely to be an unforgettable experience.

Depending on the time of year, there are a handful of festivals to take note of, the biggest being the Silk Road Turpan Grape Festival, which takes place every year in August. Expect folk singing and dancing, outdoor parties held during desert evenings when the temperature becomes bearable, wine tastings, lots of good food, especially succulent local grapes.

Turpan attractions

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