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When Natal's Carnatal began in 1991, it was the country's first carnaval fora da epoca, or out-of-season Carnival. (Off-season Carnivals are also sometimes called micaretas.) More than a dozen other cities have since instituted similar celebrations, but this remains one of the largest. Always on the first weekend in December, it unites party seekers from throughout the country and beyond. There are about 10 blocos, each with room for 3,000 revelers. They travel along a 2-km (1-mi) route that starts just outside the soccer stadium. Performances are given by some of the country's top acts. Tickets often sell out early, especially for the more popular blocos. You can reserve tickets online through www.carnatal.com.br.
Fortaleza's Fortal, one of the country's foremost carnival fora da epoca celebrations, began in 1992. It's held the last week in July on a 4-km (2½)-mi stretch along the seaside Avenida Beira-Mar. Its scale is impressive: there are six blocos, each with 2,500 revelers. An average of 500,000 participate in the festivities each of the four days, 200,000 of them tourists. Like Carnatal, Fortal attracts top acts. For more information visit www.fortal.com.br.
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