In June, Campina Grande hosts a month-long festival that uses the São João holiday – the festas juninas – as an excuse for a general knees-up. Streets are filled with stalls selling food and drinks, and various events are scheduled. This makes June one of the best times to visit, and the wonderfully named forrodrómo in the centre of town, an enormous cross between a concert hall and a dancetaria, is where much of the action happens.
But Campina Grande is equally well known for its out-of-season Carnaval, the Micarande, an event in late April that attracts some 300,000 people over a period of four days and is the largest of its kind in Brazil. The music, best described as frenetic electric, reaches fever pitch as the trios elétricos (Carnaval trucks), with live frevo bands playing on top, work their way through the crowds with their followers in train, the music lasting until dawn. Accommodation during this period is particularly scarce and expensive even for the humblest of abodes, so it’s best to get in touch with one of the leading organizers, the state tourist authority (t 83/3310-6100), before setting out. A word of warning, however: although the event itself is very well policed, take care when making your way to it as the streets and buses are very crowded.