Recife city and the surrounding region is home to some of the most authentic and democratic festivals of Brazil.
Festa Junina or the Saint John Festival is one of the oldest and most popular celebrations of the year. This festival is celebrated as Midsummer Day in several European countries. Portuguese introduced it in the North-eastern Brazil but instead of celebrating it in summer, Brazilians celebrate it in the tropical winter. It starts from 12th June on the eve of St Anthony's day and ends on 29th of June i.e. Saint Peter's day. During those days, the city is filled with bonfires, fireworks and people dancing on the streets. Also local cuisine, refreshments and different types of dishes can be enjoyed. Firework displays and bonfires are the highlights of this festival.
In Pernambuco, the month of June comes with cheerful nights decorated with bonfires, fireworks and colourful balloons. This month is celebrated with popular religious festivals in honour of famous saints. During these days, festivities included are fancy dress, dancing, heavy drinking and visual displays such as fireworks and folk dances. The festivals are celebrated as homage to Saints Anthony (13th June) in Recife, Saint John's and 'Bacamarteiro' (23rd June) in Caruaru and Acorda-Povo' ('Wake the People') Procession Bandeira de Sao Joao (23rd) in Recife. Fisherman's festival also takes place on the 28th of June by the parade in the honour of Saint Peter in various seaside towns.
During Itamaraca 'Buscada' and the festival of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, all local water carriers i.e. rafts, launches and canoes are ornamented with colourful flags and various types of flowers. The festival of the island’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora do Pilar, is the climax of this event. The saint’s image is carried by the maritime procession and the march crosses the stands in the sea. At this festival, folk dancing, bands and the special ‘bumba-meu-boi’ enjoyments go on for the whole night. The event is held in January.
Carnival in Recife (Pernambuco) is something which should not be missed. The carnival time i.e. four day festive period starting from Lent up to Ash Wednesday is celebrated throughout Brazil. Though the large celebrations are in Pernambuco with Frevo and Maracatu music, rhythms, dances and street parties, which are just unforgettable. This carnival is enjoyed more authentically and the democratic way in Recife, than any other city in Brazil. Galo da Madrugada and Noite dos Tambores Silenciosos are the highlights, and it attracts thousands of people. Entertainment during the carnival includes music, rhythms, dances, street parties and parades with traditional themes and dresses.
This festival is celebrated with Ciranda, which is a ring dance of male and female participants. This dance is enjoyed with alternate joining of hands of males and females. They follow different dance steps alongside the sound of a music collection and live drumbeats. It is hosted at Jaguaribe Beach on weekends throughout the month of July. The various groups show their skill in a thirty-minute presentation and the grand finale for the qualified groups are arranged on the last day of this festival.
This festival takes place in the town of Princesa do Agreste located about 130 kms from Recife in the month of May. In this festival, large number of cowboys participate in ‘downing the steers’ along with the viola players and verse improvisers playing music alongside. Local cuisine and drinks are also served during the celebrations. The event starts on 29th May which attracts over a half million people. This festival offers a wide range of entertainment such as fireworks, parades, exhibitions, music bands, shows and dancing for local as well as visitors.
In the courtyard of the National Historical Park dos Guararapes, every year, after the Holy Week, the traditional festival of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres is held. Nationally this festival is known as Festa da Pitomba due to the fruit of ‘Pitomba’ produced in the region. The celebration begins on March 16 and ends on March 24. During these nine days, tropical fruits are sold in the region. Festivities include badalação of concerts of various singers and bands where entry is free for visitors.