Carnival in Natal - Downtown

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carnival in NatalIn 2006, the city of Natal promoted carnival in four poles: Redinha, Ribeira (where there is a samba schools parade), Ponta Negra and the Historic Center.

Each pole has a different atmosphere.
Redinha combines carnival, beach and mud; the main attraction in Redinha is a feast near a swampy mangrove, where everybody gets dirty with mud; it is the most popular, in the sense that the very own local people determines time and place of party, music, etc; it is the carnival which more resembles the carnival of Olinda and Recife.
Ribeira, with the samba schools parade, is a reproduction of the carnival in Rio.
The carnival in Ponta Negra is attended mostly by tourists. There used to be some spontaneous manifestations in the avenue by the beach; in 2006, however, the city chose the neighbourhood of Praia Shopping as the Pole Ponta Negra. It's a convenient location, for visitors who stay in the hotels of Ponta Negra.

The Historic Center is where the old carnivals used to take place. Many old timers still come here; many bring their families.
For years, this area of the city had already taken by carnival. In 2006, the difference is that the city government provided fundings to set up an stage, hire a local band (good old Brazilian carnival music) and pay for propaganda in the media.
Another years old tradition in this area is the Parade of Kengas. The event attracts families of Natal.

The stage was assembled at Rua Vigário Bartolomeu, nearly in front of the Natal City Hall, which in turn is located near the Powers Square of Natal, where the seats of State Executive, Legislative and Judiciary overlook each other.

Below, some photos.

downtown Natal

This is Avenida Rio Branco, in downtown Natal. Even near the carnival place, the city is quiet.

carnival rehearsal

The band rehearses, before the show. Small local band, not famous, but performs very well.

Other small blocks, which have been coming here for years, return this year and join the party.

carnival costumes

This group spontaneously performs Boi Bumba, a folkloric legend, popular in the States of North of Brazil. Spontaneity is a mark of carnival in downtown Natal: groups don't need invitation or authorization to bring their own stuff and add to the feast.


The kengas arrive and blend in with the public. While they await their time to climb the stage, the kengas enjoy the party like everyone else.

carnival rehearsal

The band starts to play (around 4 pm), and the audience heads toward the stage.

As time passes, more and more people arrive.

kengas carnival rehearsal

This sequence shows how crowded the place gets, and how quickly. The show is free, and everything runs in order; the police is ostensively around. Many people try to secure a place near the stage, to have a better view of the Parade of Kengas, a parade of drag queens and transvestites which starts right after the band leaves. If you want to read more about the parade of kengas, click here.

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