By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Everyone has heard of Rio’s Carnival, but fewer perhaps are aware of Brazil’s Festas Juninas (June Festivities) which play a big role every year in the country’s winter party calendar.

Festas Juninas celebrations are a colorful event celebrated with gusto all across Brazil, and they are considered slightly more traditional in their customs when compared to Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Festas Juninas celebrations are a colorful event celebrated with gusto all across Brazil, and they are considered slightly more traditional in their customs when compared to Carnival, photo by Pedro Kirilos/Riotur.

The ‘winter’ in Rio isn’t exactly cold by European or American standards, but June sits right in the middle of the Brazilian winter and it is the time when people celebrate Festas Juninas (June Festivities) in Rio and all around Brazil. These traditional celebrations are based on a combination of the European ‘midsummer’ and ‘harvest’ festivals.

They are typically a celebration of the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the harvest, especially in the arid North-East of Brazil, but they also coincide with the nativity of St. John the Baptist, hence their other name, ‘Festa de São João’ (Festival of St. John).

People dress up in typical farming clothes from the countryside, such as checked shirts, dresses, and straw hats. Multi-colored bunting is hung from every available corner to form a web of color that surrounds the ‘arraiá’ (party).

There are many traditional dances, usually done in ‘quadrilhas’ (squares) which were imported from Portugal and have been adapted by Brazilians. Festas Juninas are generally seen as a more family-friendly festival than Carnival, with theatre, music, food and dance, including many games for children.

Here’s a selection of the best happening this weekend, from family-friendly days out to more adult-orientated parties:

Arraiá Art Decor (Botafogo)
Hosted by Art Decor Kids, who specialize in children’s parties, cake-making and other family-friendly fun, this is sure to be an Arraiá that the little ones will love. There will be plenty of fun and games in what promises to be a great Festa Junina.

What: Arraiá Art Decor
When: Saturday June 9th 5PM – 9PM
Where: São Clemente 446 – Botafogo
Entrance: R$60 – for more information, visit the event page.

Arraiá do “Seu” Vigário (Santa Teresa)
Another more traditional family day out in the gorgeous hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa. This promises to be the best and most traditional Festa Junina, with live music, traditional food such as corn-based cakes and snacks, and games for the children.

What: Arraiá do “Seu” Vigário
When: Friday, June 8th 7PM – 10PM; Saturday, June 9th and Sunday, June 10th 5AM-10PM
Where: Igreja Matriz De Santa Teresa, Rua Áurea, 71, Santa Teresa
Entrance: Pay at the event – for more information, go to the event page.

With their brightly colored bunting and usually taking place within the vicinity of a church or town square, Festas Juninas are an important community event in the Brazilian calendar, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
With their brightly colored bunting and usually taking place within the vicinity of a church or town square, Festas Juninas are an important community event in the Brazilian calendar, photo internet reproduction.

Sarrada Junina (Botafogo)
Casa da Matriz is hosting its very own Festa Junina, with a contemporary spin. There will be traditional sweets, flags, balloons and straw hats, as well as kids’ games but with an adult twist. In addition there will be free karaoke, gummy vodka beers and fluorescent paint. DJs will be playing everything from indie, pop, Rio funk and more.

What: Sarrada Junina
When: Saturday, June 9th 11PM
Where: Casa da Matriz, Rua Henrique de Novais, Botafogo
Entrance: R$10-R$20 – for more information, visit the event page.

Arraiá Independente (Tijuca)
This is another traditional arraiá but with a bit of a twist. There will be traditional foods, forró (a traditional music of the North-East), quadrilhas (square dances), and much more. An event jam-packed with happenings, this event promises karaoke with a live band, plenty of live music, attractions and workshops for children, as well as an art market and specialty beers.

What: Arraiá Independente
When: Sunday, June 10th 12PM – 10PM
Where: Praça Saens Peña, Tijuca
Entrance: Free – for more information, visit the event page.

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