Visit Brazil - World Cup Series: Natal
From the Brazil Station monthly newsletter
Natal, a city on the Atlantic coast, was founded on December 25, 1599. The date of the city's founding is responsible for its name - Natal means Christmas in Portuguese. One of the eight most visited cities of Brazil, Natal does not have a fascinating historical center or a vivid nightlife like other cities in northeastern Brazil. It is regarded as significantly calmer and safer than other large cities in the region.
Natal has several tourist attractions, including the world's largest cashew tree. Carnival in Natal, known as Carnatal, is one of the largest off-season carnivals in Brazil. Carnatal takes place sometime in November or December, in the streets around Machadão Stadium (see below). During the festivities, a huge truck (called trio elétrico), with a band on top and sound boxes all around drives slowly along the streets. The crowd follows the trio elétrico singing, dancing, and jumping to the sound of the music.
The city is also famous for its natural beauty, and is frequently used as a base to explore the paradisiac beaches and nature of Rio Grande do Norte state. It is highly recommended to hire a buggy and driver to travel along the Natal coast, heading either north or south. The coast offers a rare combination of dunes, lagoons, sandstone cliffs and vegetation. Your driver (buggeiro) will pick you up at your hotel and make a variety of stops for photos, zip lining, sand boarding, swimming, and sipping from coconuts.
Also recommended is to watch the sunset at the Toa Toa Boat Cruise on the Potengi river. You will be able to see the city from different a different perspective while passing through historical neighborhoods, mangroves, and river beaches
Since its inauguration in 1972, the Estádio João Claudio de Vasconcelos Machado – better known as the Machadão – has welcomed the biggest clashes in Natal football. The three leading teams in Natal are ABC, Alecrim, and America. However, in order for Natal to become one of the 12 Host Cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, a bigger and more modern venue was required. Ultimately, the city opted to demolish its two existing stadiums.
Currently under construction is the Estádio das Dunas. The stadium's name honors the sand dunes that are one of the most impressive natural attractions in the Natal region. The stadium also pays homage to the dunes with its daring undulating structure that is said to imitate them.