During the month of June, the churches and parishes of São Paulo come to life. Streets and plazas are closed off. The festa junina (June Festival), a celebration of the three patron saints of the month – St. Anthony, St. John and St. Peter – is here.
Originally an import from Portugal, the celebration was gradually ‘Brazilianised’ with colourful banners, booths selling typical provincial fare and carnival games, turning it into an annual national tradition. The festivities also include square dancing, or quadrilha, which originated in France (who would have guessed?) but was spiced up, tropicalised and appropriated to suit the Brazilian masses.
The festivities are a chance for tourists and paulistanos alike to get a taste of the rest of São Paulo state, forever in the shadow of the big city. We’ve rounded up the most original city festivals, so put on your overalls and get out there, partner!
Festas by area: East Zone | West Zone | Centro | South Zone | North Zone
One of the most traditional festas juninas in the city is Santo Antônio do Pari. In addition to the many hillbilly attractions, the celebration has a special programme that begins with a procession and ends with the assembly of a three-ton cake in homage to St. Anthony, the matchmaker saint. Getting yourself a piece of the cake really is a miracle – as you’ll see, there are a staggering number of ladies convinced that they need a bite if they ever want to get married.
Over in Mooca, one of São Paulo’s main Italian strongholds, the saints’ days are also commemorated with food festivals. Don’t miss the calzone from the São Miguel parish and the pasta dish from the São Rafael parish.
- 99th Festa de Santo Antônio do Pari
Praça Padre Bento 13, Pari, (11) 3311 0455
5-11pm , 15, 16, 22 and 23 June.
Read more about the Festa
- Festa Junina da Paróquia São Miguel Arcanjo
Rua Sapucaia, near 172, Mooca, (11) 2692 6798, oarcanjo.net
6-11pm, 15 June; 5pm-10pm 16 June.
- 42nd Festa Junina da Paróquia São Rafael
Largo São Rafael, Mooca, (11) 2292 4528, paroquiasaorafael.org.br
6-11pm 15, 16, 22 and 23 June.
Like any other serious celebration, the Quermesse do Calvário festival has an expansive multitude of stalls selling typical junina food and beverages. But, in addition to the traditional corn and peanut delights, this festival also serves typical Brazilian foods such as acarajé from Bahia, pamonha (corn paste wrapped in husks) and cural (sweet corn dessert), a traditional Minas Gerais speciality. Probably best to skip lunch.
- Quermesse do Calvário
Rua Cardeal Arcoverde 950, Pinheiros, (11) 3085 1307, paroquiadocalvario.org.br
5.30-11.30pm 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 June and 6, 7 July. R$10.
Quermesse da Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolação parish is a great option for a family outing with game stalls and light-hearted fare like correio elegante (where you can write a love note, to be delivered anonymously).
A huge area – the Minhocão raised expressway – is home to BaixoCentro’s festa junina. Besides the usual food, the festival includes storytelling, street performers and a collective wedding.
- Quermesse da Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolação
Rua da Consolação 585, Consolação, (11) 3256 5356. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 June; 6pm-midnight Sat; 6-11pm Sun.
- Festa Junina do Minhocão BaixoCentro
Minhocão expressway between Santa Cecilia and Marechal Deodoro metrô stations, baixocentro.org
1pm-10pm 30 June.
Read more about the festa on the Minhocão
The São Judas parish’s festival, further down south by Congonhas airport, is made special by the students of the church’s school who perform shows with singing, dancing and live music.
- Festa Junina do Instituto Meninos de São Judas Tadeu
Avenida Itacira 2801, Planalto Paulista, (11) 5586 8666, imsjt.org.br
10am-9pm 9, 16, 23, 30 June.
If you’re looking for an authentic experience, the Nossa Senhora da Candelária parish offers traditinal quentão (hot mulled rum), caldo verde (green cabbage stew) and pé de moleque (roasted peanuts with condensed milk), but they stay innovative and keep things lively by installing a temporary amusement park in the square.
- 79ª Festa Junina da Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Candelária Pça. Nossa Senhora da Candelária, 1, Vila Maria, 2954 35668, candelaria.org.br. 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 June.