By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – When June begins, the festive mood takes over the country. Although Festa Junina is a real phenomenon in Northeastern Brazil, the party has become a tradition in basically all parts of the country, including São Paulo’s capital.
Considered as relevant as Carnival — sometimes even bigger, especially in the countryside — Festa Junina is a faithful representation of Brazil, marked by diverse cultural influences.
The religious aspect of Festa Junina — which celebrates Saints Anthony, Peter and John — is derived from the Portuguese colonization and correspoinding Catholic expansion in Brazil, while some of Festa Junina’s dances and rhythms come from French culture.
However, with the significant influence of African and indigenous traditions, present-day Festas Juninas are anything but “purely European”: whether it’s the food, the music or the rituals, the Brazilian Festa Junina has assumed an entirely new identity, reflecting the fascinating cultural amalgam that Brazil is known for.
In Northeast Brazil, states like Paraíba and Pernambuco are proudly host the greatest Festas Juninas in the country, especially in Caruaru (Pernambuco) and Campina Grande (Paraíba). But if visiting these cities isn’t possible this month, São Paulo has plenty of amazing options to experience the Festa Junina season.
A City that, since the early twentieth century, has become home to the many thousands of Northeastern Brazilians who dream of a better life in Brazil’s Southeast, São Paulo will not disappoint those wishing to experience a memorable Festa Junina.
Whether it’s an all-vegan Festa Junina version, or a traditional party in one of São Paulo’s most important churches, make sure to choose your favorite and dive into June’s festive mood.
Probably the most anticipated Festas Juninas in São Paulo are those that have remained in the very same places for years, especially those in the courtyards of traditional churches. If you feel like checking these out, do not miss the Festa Junina at Paróquia San Gennaro, in Mooca; at Quermesse do Calvário, in Pinheiros; and at Igreja da Consolação, in Consolação.
Every Saturday in June, from 6 PM to 12 midnight, Paróquia San Gennaro’s Festa Junina stands out for blending Brazilian and Italian cultures. Apart from the typical Festa Junina treats, Paróquia San Gennaro will also be serving their traditional Italo-Brazilian pasta dish “macarronada”.
For a bustling “church Festa Junina”, one cannot go wrong with Quermesse do Calvário, taking place at the beautiful Igreja do Calvário, in Praça Benedito Calixto (Pinheiros).
Every weekend, until July 7th, from 5:30 PM to 11:30 PM, this Festa Junina has everything it takes to be perfect, including “quadrilha” [square dancing], forró music, delicious food, and a lively crowd. At the Calvário party, there is a fee of R$15 to enter.
For further options of Festa Junina at churches, check out the ones at Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Conceição and Paróquia Santo Antonio Lisboa, both in Tatuapé; at Paróquia São Rafael Arcanjo, in Mooca; at Santíssimo Sacramento, in Vila Mariana; at Igreja Nossa Senhora d’Achiropita, in Bixiga; and at Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in Ipiranga.
If you want to experience massive Festas Juninas and discover new places in São Paulo, all at once, visit the parties at Memorial da América Latina, in Barra Funda; Parque da Água Branca, in Água Branca; and Centro de Tradições Nordestinas, in Limão.
A grand pavillion dedicated to culinary and musical culture from the States of Northeastern Brazil, Centro de Tradições Nordestinas itself (CTN–Center of Northeastern Traditions) is itself an event. There, one can enjoy live Northeastern music and indulge in authentic dishes during the entire year. In June, the most genuine spirit of Festa Junina completely takes over CTN.
This year, the venue will be throwing their famous Festa Junina every weekend IN June, from 1 PM to 11 PM. There will be 40 musical attractions, including a free “forró” dance workshop, typical food, and drinks.
The Festa Junina at Parque da Água Branca is worth checking out if you enjoy nature: this party takes over a park surrounded by a stunning green area, starting this weekend, from 10 PM to 8 PM. The huge court of Memorial da América Latina, a center promoting Latin American culture, will also host a Festa Junina, on the 13th and 14th of July.
Apart from the above-mentioned events, many “out-of-the-box” varieties are also happening in the city this month. Some of them have really become an “in” thing, such as the sixth edition of the “vegan Festa Junina” by VegNice in Mariana every weekend of June, from 12 noon to 9 PM. At this unusual Festa Junina, one can find vegan versions of typical stews, sweets, and dishes.
Brazilian music lovers – especially those into Sertanejo music – will have a blast at Festa Junina da Portuguesa, taking place in the Portuguesa football stadium in Canindé. From June 8th to July 20th, the stadium will host 30 musical attractions, including Mano Brown, Marília Mendonça, and Raça Negra.
If a Festa Junina with nightlife vibes sounds like a fun idea, do not miss the one at Villa Country, in Água Branca. Running from July 11th to 14th, the event will gather famous names from Brazilian Sertanejo music and great DJs. One of the biggest Carnival street blocks from Rio de Janeiro, Monobloco will also be throwing a lively Festa Junina in Barra Funda on July 6th, starting at 10 PM.
To close, we offer a list of other Festa Juninas definitely worth checking out in June and July: Arraial da Cidade no Jockey Club SP, at Cidade Jardim; Grande Arraial, at Praça da Sé; the Festa Junina at Vila Maria Zélia; Festa Junina at Casa de Cultura Butantã, in Butantã; and Festa Junina at Clube Ipê, in Ibirapuera.