Over the past decade, festivals have become increasingly ambitious. A recognisable line up and a warm pint of Carlsberg simply doesn’t cut it anymore; this is the era of immersive experiences, visual ambition and general sensory overload.
The Town - São Paulo’s newest event, created by the people behind legendary Brazilian festie Rock in Rio - has taken this idea and ramped it up to the nth degree. Promising an enormous playground that will host 500,000 people over its two-weekend run, its name is bang on the money: forget your standard festival field, here’s they’ve basically built their own city based on São Paulo itself, with towering architectural stages, a town square and food handpicked to showcase the best of the region.
Musically, The Town runs the gamut of heavy-hitters across the genre board, from Foo Fighters and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, through to pop megastars like Bruno Mars and Bebe Rexha, and modern titans Wet Leg and Kim Petras. In keeping with the local focus, there’s also plenty of home-grown talent, with Brazilian rap royalty Racionais MCs and Latin GRAMMY-nominated pop star Jão topping the second stage.
With the second weekend about to kick off, the festival’s Robert Medina explains a little more about the world’s most eye-popping new festival.
You've described The Town as “Disneyland meets Glastonbury” - tell us more about the idea behind the festival.
The Town is gigantic and was conceived as an immersive experience where the city of São Paulo inspired the festival, with a world-class musical lineup like its older sibling Rock in Rio, or Glastonbury. Similar to Disneyland the happiness of the audience, the immersion in entertainment, and the diversity of content are what characterise The Town. It’s about crafting a space where music, art, culture and entertainment mix into something truly extraordinary.
There’s some eclectic programming across the bill, from Foo Fighters to Bruno Mars to a host of local talent. What were you aiming for with the line-up?
Diversity was key. We aim to offer something for every musical genre, from chart-toppers like Bruno Mars to rock legends like Foo Fighters and emerging talents like Wet Leg. Our goal was to create a lineup that mirrors the multifaceted spirit of São Paulo and celebrates music in all its forms.
There’s obviously a huge amount of effort put into the visuals of the actual festival site - tell us about how you created The Town itself and where the inspirations came from.
Creating The Town was a labour of love. We drew inspiration from São Paulo’s iconic architecture, its vibrant art scene, and the city's electric energy. The result is an immersive playground that celebrates São Paulo’s unique culture, with gargantuan LED displays, stunning scenography, and awe-inspiring spaces that invite festival-goers to lose themselves in art and music.
Every aspect of the festival venue reflects this connection, from the grandeur of São Paulo’s architecture mirrored in the Skyline Stage, to the Factory Stage drawing inspiration from its industrial history. The São Paulo Square hosts jazz performances and showcases the greatest hits of the Golden Years, creating a vibrant celebration of São Paulo’s past and present.
Alongside the music, what other things should people check out on the site?
There’s so much more than music! The Town offers 80+ attractions including an adrenaline-pumping zipline, Broadway-style shows, and a culinary journey at Market Square curated by Chef Alex Atala. This diverse gastronomic experience showcases São Paulo’s rich food culture, allowing visitors to explore flavours from various city neighbourhoods. With thrilling activities and cultural delights, The Town promises an immersive festival experience that goes beyond expectations.
What do you think the most visually impressive area of the site is?
The One Stage is a standout. It’s a visual masterpiece inspired by São Paulo’s art museums, with LED screens that transform the space into a captivating art gallery. Additionally, the São Paulo Square offers a vibrant celebration of the city’s past and present. Together, these areas create a visual and cultural experience that truly sets The Town apart.
Are there any secret areas/ surprises in store over the weekend?
We love surprises! So, get ready for a jaw-dropping surprise! In a tribute to the first historic edition of The Town, we’ve orchestrated a magical spectacle that will whisk you straight back to the iconic opening of Rock in Rio in 1985. None other than the legendary Ney Matogrosso will grace the stage, accompanied by an awe-inspiring light extravaganza, breathtaking pyrotechnics, and even dazzling bracelets reminiscent of Coldplay’s. This sensational tribute promises to be a weekend highlight, an experience you won’t want to miss!
Aside from the festival itself, what in the local area should visitors try and see while they’re there?
São Paulo is a treasure trove of experiences. Explore the city’s renowned art museums, savour the diverse cuisine in local neighbourhoods, and soak up the vibrant street culture. Don’t miss the bustling markets and the vibrant nightlife. São Paulo has something for everyone.
The Town runs until 10th September at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil.