Natal ’s premier theater is the opulent neoclassical Teatro Alberto Maranhão (Praça Augusto Severo, Ribeira, tel. 84/3222-3669 www.teatroalbertomaranhao.rn.gov.br ), which hosts dance, theater, and musical events.
Occupying a beautifully restored old mansion, Centro Cultural Casa da Ribeira (Rua Frei Miguelinho 52, Ribeira, tel. 84/3211-7710, www.casadaribeira.com.br ) provides a charming and essential escape valve for local artists. Alternative theatrical, dance, and musical performances are held here, along with film screenings and art exhibits. There is also an attractive café.
Carnatal (www.carnatal.com.br ) is the name of Natal ’s out-of-season Carnaval. For four days in late November/early December, the streets surrounding the Machadão stadium in the bairro of Lagoa Nova go crazy as the stars of Salvador ’s mega Carnaval whip the crowds into a frenzy with throbbing axé music sung from the tops of trio elétricos (massive stages on wheels).