Portuguese American Journal

Terceira: ‘Sanjoaninas Festival’ celebrating diaspora legacy – Azores

The traditional ‘Sanjoaninas Festival’ is taking place on Terceira Island, from June 19-27, attracting thousands of visitors to Angra do Heroísmo city listed  (1984) by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

Under the theme “Angra, memória dos meus encantos” [Angra, the allure of remembrance] the 2015 Sanjoaninas Festival honors the legacy of the many thousands born on the island who have left  their birthplace in search of a better life.

Named after São João (St. John) the Patron Saint of Terceira, the celebrations are the biggest secular festivities in the Azores dating back to the 16th century. They showcase Terceira’s historic legacy and cultural heritage and mark the highest tourism season for the island attracting many tourists and emigrants returning home to celebrate the festas with relatives and friends.

According to tradition, the celebrations open with the Rainha [Queen] parade and includes many highlights such as a Portuguese style bullfighting in addition to the Terceira style touradas à corda [rope bullfights] a local bullfight tradition similar to the Spanish running of the bulls.

Over the years, the festival has evolved to become a combination of religious celebrations and secular traditions which include religious displays, cultural and ethnographic events and recreational sports activities. The feast also features jubilant marches and parades portraying the culture and ethnic pride of the people on the island. One highlight is the choreographed danças with groups of performers presenting street dancing routines. The Sanjoaninas festivities also feature the famous culinary and gastronomy typical of the island of Terceira.


The Azores (population 250,000) is a region of Portugal composed of nine islands. The archipelago discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal. According to the latest US census over 1.3 million individuals of Portuguese descent live in the United States, the majority with roots in the Azores. It is estimated that over 20,000 US citizens live in Portugal.


2015 Sanjoaninas Festival: Official Website  >> Festivities Program (in Portuguese) >> Facebook >>