Carnatal - Carnival of Natal

«Back to Home
«Hotels in Natal
«Entertainment in Natal
«Culture in Natal
«Beaches Guide

Carnatal 2006 happened from Nov. 30th through Dec. 3rd.
We attended Carnatal 2006; click here for a report.
Carnatal 2005 happened from Dec. 1st through Dec. 5th
Carnatal 2004 happened from Dec.2nd through Dec.5th

Carnatal 2003 happened from Dec.5th through Dec.8th

Visit the official site for more information

Carnatal is the off-season carnival of Natal
Carnival in Natal is not big, but Carnatal is a different matter: it´s one of the largest off-season carnivals in Brazil.

For many Brazilians, one week of carnival is not enough.
Almost every big city in Brazil organizes an off-season carnival. For example, Fortaleza has Fortal, Recife has Recifolia, Natal has Carnatal; literally, hundreds of other smaller cities around Brazil organize their own carnival.
Carnatal takes place sometime in November or December. It has happened in the streets around Machadão stadium (traffic around the stadium changes radically during Carnatal days).

Carnatal is different from the samba school parades, popular in Rio de Janeiro.
Carnatal is something like this:
The transit department isolates about 3 km of streets, creating a ring, along which the party takes place. During the days of party, a huge truck (called "trio elétrico"), with a band on the top and sound boxes all around, drives slowly along the streets. The crowd follows the trio elétrico singing, dancing, jumping to the sound of the music.
To be allowed to follow the truck, you must buy admitance to one of the several "blocos" (block). A bloco is an enterprise which obtains permission to participate in Carnatal, hires the band, sells admitance and controls access. A long rope is laid all around the trio elétrico, and held tight by the bloco staff; only authorized people may enter the area isolated by the rope; there are bars and toillets inside the truck. Some famous blocos: Caju, Jerimum, Nana Banana, Coco, Cheiro.
To get in and out of the area within the rope, you must be wearing a "abadá"; abadá is a special, colorful kind of t-shirt which uniquely identifies the bloco; the staff will allow you in and out based only upon your wearing or not the correct abadá (the unique colors of abadás make it easy to identify the authorized persons).
Abadás can be bought as soon as a few weeks before Carnatal, but they are delivered only a very few days before the party (to avoid forgering).
Cost of abadás depends on a few factors. The blocos are free to determine their prices; prices go up and down, depending on the fame and attractiviness of the band which will play with that bloco. Also, it´s better to buy in advance; buying on the spot is possible, but, if the abadás are sold out (as it´s usually the case), expect to pay an overprice.
Depending on when and how you buy, prices may go from R$50 to R$300.

There are other ways to participate.
Around Machadão, the organization mounts "camarotes", cabins from where you can see the crowd passing by; in a camarote, you can see the bands more closely (the camarotes are at a high level from the floor) and watch all the blocos.
Many people also just stay outside the ropes and watch the blocos at distance. The sound is so loud that even a few hundred meters away one can listen and dance to it.

Safety: because Carnatal is on the headlines of every news in Brazil, the governments pay special attention to the safety of the event. Police is everywhere, but they recommend to leave valuables at home (pick pocket is common) and to moderate drinking.
So far, all the Carnatals have happened in a peaceful and orderly way.
Final note: during Carnatal, Natal gets very crowded; book flights and hotels in advance.

See also: Carnival in Natal

Back to Top

visitors since April 5th 2005