Sao Paulo lies some 50 miles from the ocean, immediately below the Tropic of Capricorn. The climate is nominally subtropical, but in reality the city’s weather is erratic, influenced by its altitude (just over 2,000 feet) and depressions that regularly sweep up from the cool southern Atlantic.
The summer months between December and mid-March are warm and wet. Temperatures average around 80 degrees but occasionally peak in the high 90s or drop into the 60s. Heavy rain can fall at any time, making for a potentially wet summer festival season. On December 31, the city throws a huge New Year’s Eve party (Reveillon) for more than a million revelers who pack skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista downtown to see Brazil’s top music acts perform.
February brings high season and Carnival, when the city gets its sequins out and sambas for a week. There are parties everywhere, but the biggest celebrations are in the Sambódromo stadium, where drummers, dancers, and glittering floats parade past roaring crowds. Only Rio’s celebration is more lavish.
In April, São Paulo gets back to work, keeping its head down until winter, when skies are clear and average temperatures drop into the 70s. Locals dress up as yokels for the Festas Juninas in June, donning checked shirts, jeans, and straw hats: mingling over mulled wine (vinho quente); and dancing a lively jig called forró.
Temperatures rise in October, in time for the Brazilian Grand Prix. By late November, a sweltering São Paulo is gearing up for Christmas (Natal) with buildings throughout the city decorated in bunting, sparkly lights, and fake snow.