Immigrant Fest grows and embraces new communities

04 de junho de 2016

Arabs will be represented by Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and Egypt in artistic performances, handicraft and cuisine. The event will take place on June 5, 11 and 12 at São Paulo’s Immigration Museum.

São Paulo – The 21st Immigrant Fest opens this Sunday (5) at São Paulo’s Immigration Museum. Arab countries will be represented by Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and Egypt, and not just in cuisine. There will be Moroccan folk dances onstage, as well as bellydancing and workshops on how to cook typical foods.

According to Immigration Museum managing director Marília Bonas, the immigrant communities themselves get in touch with the museum to join the festival. “This celebration was born of the desire of the communities that settled in São Paulo to share their culture and pass it on to the younger generations. The event grew bigger and new communities have joined us in the last five years. Consulates, NGOs and organizations that do social work with immigrants and refugees collaborate with the event,” she said.

A team from the museum is tasked with finding restaurants and performing artists amid the communities of different countries to participate in the festival. Last year, 20,000 people attended. Bonas expects to see visitor numbers increase this year.

Besides Arab countries, the event will feature communities from Germany, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Korea, Croatia, Spain, France, Greece, Madeira Islands, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Vietnam.

A bellydance performance is scheduled for this Sunday. Arab dances will also be featured next Saturday (11) and Sunday (12). Also on the 12th, a workshop will teach the basics of belly dancing.

Arab culture should also captivate visitors with its delicacies. In addition to sampling typical dishes, festival goers can also learn to cook a few of them. A cuisine workshop on Sunday (5) will show how to cook Moroccan couscous. Step-by-step instructions on how to cook falafel, a traditional chickpea recipe, will be given on Saturday (11). On that same day, there will be a lesson on how to make toast with zaatar, the traditional Lebanese spice.

Out of the 41 food stands, one will be occupied by the Syrian refugee Talal Altinawi, who opened a restaurant last April in São Paulo’s Brooklin (with an ‘i’) neighborhood. “The festival features immigrants who cook the traditional way and those who put new spins on typical recipes. For instance, visitors can try a recipe by Altinawi and compare it with other versions of the same dish. We also notice that people are becoming more and more interested in sharing their experiences and stories,” said Bonas.

The Immigration Museum is set in what was formerly Hospedaria de Imigrantes do Brás (The immigrants’ lodge of Brás neighborhood) from 1887 to 1975. During that time, 2.5 million people from more than 70 different countries stayed at the premises, which also included an infirmary, the Official Colonization and Labor Agency, and a post office.

Quick facts
21st Immigrant Fest
June 5, 11 and 12 from 10am to 5pm
Immigration Museum, Rua Visconde de Parnaíba, 1.316, Mooca, São Paulo, SP
Ticket: BRL 6.00
Find out more: (in Portuguese)

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum