By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In Brazil the ‘winter’ month of June is the season of Festas Juninas (June Parties), some of the biggest and most traditional celebrations that take place all over the country. In Rio de Janeiro, one can find many options to experience Festa Junina with the locals, from the trendiest modern versions to the most traditional ones.
In principal, the originally European festivity was a celebration to the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest, alluding to the peasant’s lifestyle. The celebration is known for its traditional food (like mulled wine and many corn-based dishes), folk group dances, live music and colorful costumes.
Another part of the Festas Juninas heritage is the Catholic connection as June is the month of St. Anthony’s Day (June 13th), St John’s (June 24th) and St. Peter’s (June 29th). The religious aspect still plays a central role mainly in the Northeast, where this culture remains stronger.
In addition, one cannot talk about Festas Juninas without mentioning its peculiar rituals, present in almost all of them. The celebration is known as a very integrative and interactive one, since everyone gets invited to participate in the “quadrilha”, a pair and group dance that is followed by the namesake folk music. Most of the
Most of the quadrilhas are traditionally opened by a “fake” well-humored wedding, in which one person plays the priest, another one plays the groom and a third one the bride. For some Brazilians, this is the most fun part of a Festa Junina.
Gathering theater, dance, live music and great food, Festas Juninas are definitely worth the experience. In order not to miss the traditional Brazilian festivities, following are some of the best happening in Rio:
São João da Feira (São Cristovão)
Also known as the Feira dos Paraíbas, this massive structure in the Centro is the epicenter for all things related to Brazil’s Northeast in Rio and is by far the town’s biggest arraiá, how Festas Juninas are popularly called. Between their Festival da Quadrilha (Square Dance Festival), Festival de Brincadeiras (Festival of Games) and various religious services offered throughout the month, the Feira de São Cristóvão spares no expense to bring the authentic Northeastern experience to Rio.
What: São João da Feira
Where: Feira de São Cristovão
When: June to August. Tuesday to Thursday, from 10AM to 6PM. Weekends 10AM to 9PM.
Entrance: From Tuesday to Thursday, for free. From Friday to Sunday depends on performances, but usually around R$10.
Festa dos Santos Populares Portugueses (Port Zone)
From this Friday (June 9th) until Sunday (June 10th), get ready to experience the perfect mix of traditional and trendy at Festa dos Santos Populares Portugueses (Popular Portuguese Saints Party), which celebrates the encounter between Portuguese and Brazilian cultures at Rio’s Port Zone. The event will include popular art, Portuguese culinary and even the Sagres, the traditional Portuguese navy’s ship, docked at the port. Singers Alceu Valença, Letícia Persiles and Marcelo Jeneci are some of the live attractions. DJ Rúben da Cruz will be in charge of the music during the breaks.
What: Festa dos Santos Populares Portugueses
When: this weekend (June 9th – June 11th) – 5PM to 11PM
Where: Av. Rodrigues Alves, s/n, Armazém 6 – Port (Centro) – Tel: (21) 2516-4857
Entrance: R$15 – R$30
Arraial das Ruínas (Centro)
This arraiá is specially dedicated to the most typical popular music of this festivity: forró. Those looking for dancing (in pairs) all night long, Arraial das Ruínas, at Tiradentes Square, is definitely the place to go. The party will include a wide variety of live attractions, like Trio Forró Maravilha, starting at 12AM, and Trio Rio de Janeiro, starting only at 4AM. Fun and lots of dancing guaranteed!
What: Arraial das Ruínas
When: this Saturday (June 10th) – 8PM to 6AM
Where: Instituto Cultural Ruínas, Praça Tiradentes, 75 – Centro – Tel: (21) 97423-3883
Arraiá Du Deçi Mar Num Sobi (Cosme Velho)
On next Wednesday (June 14th), Arraiá Du Deçi Mar Num Sobi (Goes down but does not go up arraiá) brings together the best Brazilian popular parties of all: Festa Junina and Carnaval. The celebration promises to become a huge Carnival bloco (street party), with “marchinhas” (traditional songs at Carnival blocos) and a lot of forró music. In addition, the party will take place at Casarão Floresta, a beautiful old house at the side of Christ the Redeemer.
What: Arraiá Du Deçi Mar Num Sobi
When: Wednesday (June 14th) – 10PM to 4AM
Where: Casarão Floresta, Ladeira dos Guararapes, 115 – Cosme Velho – Tel: (21) 97041-4390
Entrance: R$15 – R$50
Arraial Cai Cai Temer (Tijuca)
Making a parody out of the popular Festa Junina song “Cai Cai Balão” (Fall, fall balloon), Arraial Cai Cai Temer is a politically engaged festivity that sees the Festa Junina as the perfect opportunity to claim for Temer’s resignation. In the party, one can find traditional dishes, live typical music and many sarcastic games parodying Brazil’s current situation.
What: Arraial Cai Cai Temer
When: Saturday (June 24th) – 3PM to 10PM
Where: Rua Pereira Nunes, 189 – Tijuca
Arraiá dos Gigantes da Lira (Lapa)
If you are looking for a playful party, with beautiful people and a circus atmosphere, this “arraiá” is certainly the event where you want to be on Sunday (June 25th). The Carnaval-originated group will bring to Circo Voador a Festa Junina with live instrumentalists, wooden leg acrobats, typical food stalls, games and people beautifully dress up.
What: Arraiá do Gigantes da Lira : Circo Voador
When: Sunday (Jun 25th) – 4PM to 9PM
Where: Rua dos Arcos, s/n – Lapa – Tel: (21) 2533-0354
Entrance: R$30 – R$60