Underrated Annual Festivals in Rio De Janeiro You Need to Know

Rock in Rio
Rock in Rio | © Alexandre Macieira | Riotur/Flickr
Sarah Brown

Everyone knows about Carnival in Rio de Janeiro – as the largest and most famous outdoor street party in the world, it overshadows most of Rio’s events. However, the city has a few other amazing annual festivals that are definitely worth checking out if you’re not in town for Carnival. Here are some of the best you need to know about.

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Rock in Rio

Rock in Rio is becoming one of Rio’s largest music festivals, known for its fantastic line-up of classic and modern rock icons. In recent years, the appearance of a Coachella-style Ferris wheel in addition to more mainstream pop and indie artists have boosted the festival’s popularity, with tickets selling out quicker each year. The festival is held every September (although it sometimes skips a year) and has no camping options. Artists that have played the event in the past include Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Bon Jovi and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Rock in Rio

International Film Festival

The International Film Festival – or O Festival do Rio as it is locally known – is a 10-day event in October that not only showcases Brazilian films but also represents more than 60 countries in a collection of classic and modern cinema. The event celebrates almost all genres from horror and romance to comedy and documentaries. It also goes beyond just screening films by organizing workshops and discussions with industry experts.

Festa Junina

The Festa Junina – the June Festival – is held throughout Brazil and is a traditional folklore event taking place across June and July. The main dates of the festival are the days of the saints – Saint Antonio on June 13, Saint São João on June 24 and Sao Pedro on June 29. Despite the deep-rooted religious connotations of the June Festival, it also centres on regional food, northeastern music known as forró and traditional countryside costume.

Festa Junina

The Biennial Book Fair

The Biennial Book Fair usually starts in August and finishes in September. The 11-day event is one of Brazil’s largest and most significant literary events, bringing in writers to engage in debates, workshops and informal discussions about all things literary. The event takes place in Barra da Tijuca, a sprawling, newly-developed neighborhood towards the west of Rio. It’s a great way to get to know the world of Brazilian literature in more depth.

Ultra Brazil

Held every October in Rio de Janeiro, Ultra Brazil is a huge electronic music event featuring some of the world’s most prominent DJs. With top names including Alok, David Guetta and Armin Van Buuren regularly headlining, it is undoubtedly Rio’s largest and most stimulating electronic music event. The event takes place over three days and although it doesn’t have camping options, it is located in the Sambódromo which is easy to access from Rio’s city center.

Ultra festival

Mondial de la Biere

If you love beer, you’ve come to the right place. Mondial de la Biere is five-day beer festival held every October at Praça Maua in Rio’s Porto Maravilha area in the city center. In 2015, it received over 38,000 visitors and showcased hundreds of Brazilian and international beer labels. It’s a great event for trying some of the best Brazilian craft beers of the moment, as well as brands from all over the world. Some of the best labels from Brazil to keep an eye out for are Hocus Pocus, Jeffrey’s and 2 Cabeças.


Bauernfest is a traditional German festival held in Petropolis, a small city just outside of Rio de Janeiro in the Serra mountain range. Over the course of ten days from the end of June to the beginning of July, the colonial city hosts an abundance of German cultural activities, with traditional food and imported German beer. The German influence relates to the German immigration in Brazil from generations ago. At this family-friendly event, there are also stages for live music, beer-tasting tents and games for younger visitors.

Bauernfest at the Crystal Palace in Petropolis

Festival da Pinga

Festival da Pinga is held in the small colonial town of Paraty in the state of Rio de Janeiro and it celebrates all things pinga, or cachaça as it’s otherwise known. Held over a four-day weekend in August, it’s totally free to enter. In addition to sampling some of the region’s finest cachaça – Paraty is famous for its local cachaca distilleries – there are opportunities to try cachaça-flavored food, buy high-quality labels and enjoy outdoor shows. Some of the cachaca brands to look out for include Engenho d’Ouro, Paratiana and Pedra Branca.

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