Carnival in Natal
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Natal is known for NOT having a carnival.
Carnival in Natal 2006
Source: city of Natal
UPDATE 2006: Natal is still known for not having a carnival. The middle class of Natal still goes to carnival in nearby beaches, such as Pirangi. Cities of the interior of Rio Grande do Norte, such as Macau and Touros, advertise in billboards in Natal, inviting for their programmes of carnival. Recife and Olinda, 300 km away from Natal, still have one of the biggest carnivals in Brazil, for free.
However, in 2006, the government of Natal is making investments to promote the carnival as another tourist attractive of the city.
In my opinion, the initiative was well thought and was well organized. Natal is still a place where tourists can rest during carnival, but also offers options for those who want to have a closer contact with the festivities.
Read more about Carnival in Natal 2006.
Update 2005: Carnival in Natal 2005. Based on press releases by official sources.
There are many Brazilians who don't like Carnival; for these, Natal is an excellent place to stay during the carnival season; several travel agencies advertise the calmness of Natal as a means to attract tourists during the week long holidays that Brazilians take for carnival.
Historic notice: in 1984, there was a serious accident involving a bus during carnival; in the years after this incident, the lower classes of Natal avoided the unsafe street carnivals, and the upper classes headed to the beaches. This is not the only reason for the quiet carnival in Natal, but is certainly an important one.
Nowadays, some clubs promote carnival parties, trying to copy what the cariocas do; it won't be as luxurious as in Rio, but certainly it will be safer and more familiar; usually, there is one day when a party is dedicated to children (this for kids party is at afternoon; all others are by night).
There are several small parades which go around the city; usually, a group of friends who enjoy partying gather together and start a small block, and after some years it becomes a tradition; Ponta Negra sees several such parades.
Gays and dragqueens organize their own parades ; these parades happen during the day, are safe, and have not much of a sexual conotation (many families watch these events, a good demonstration of Natal toleration towards sexuality).
If Natal is quiet, there are many other places in the State of Rio Grande do Norte where carnival is very animated. At these places, people take over streets (with authorization and assistance from governments) and start their own carnivals; examples of places where there is carnival: Redinha (very popular), Pirangi (this is where the middle class of Natal spends carnival; gets crowded), Touros.
An excellent alternative is in the carnival of Olinda and Recife, just 300 km away from Natal. Different from Rio, Olinda and Recife's carnival is still eminently popular; you won't see expensive decoration, but will notice a much joyful people. Pay special attention to the Rooster of the Dawn ("Galo da Madrugada"), listed by Guiness as the biggest popular party in the world; more than 1 million people follow a big Rooster statue around the streets of Recife.
This is a completely different matter. Carnatal is the off-season carnival of Natal (the biggest in Brazil); during Carnatal, an immense crowd of tourists invade Natal.
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visitors since April 5th 2005