One of the best ways to get the most out of your vacation in Belize is to attend one of the many festivals and live events that occur in the country throughout the year. Belize is a true melting pot society where diverse cultures such as the Maya, Mestizos, Creole, and Garifuna each contribute their own traditions in celebrations of food, fun, and history.
Here are 8 unique festivals in Belize that you are warmly welcome to attend:
1 – Belize Carnival
More than 20,000 people flock to Belize City every September to take part in the annual ritual of Carnival. Large street parades featuring elaborately costumed dancers make their way through town to the sound of drums and high-energy music and the raucous cheering of the crowd.
2 – Placencia Sidewalk Arts Festival
The idyllic village of Placencia in southeastern Belize converts its Guinness Book of World Records tiny main street (a four-foot wide sidewalk) into a celebration of local art every February. Attendees can “run the gauntlet” down the main sidewalk in town, enjoying the homemade furniture, poetry readings, live music, games, and lots of delicious food and drink on offer.
3 – John Canoe Dance Contest
Drawing on the rich history of the Garifuna people, dancers garb themselves in cowry-shelled costumes and masks to perform this traditional dance after Christmas that mocks former European slave masters.
4 – Lobsterfest
Belize has a long history of fishing the rich waters of the offshore reef. Every year in June, areas like the Placencia Peninsula and the islands of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye celebrate the opening of lobster season in June. With plenty of live music, local arts and crafts to browse, and a mouthwatering array of lobster dishes to sample, Lobsterfest is a great reason to visit Belize.
5 – Pan Yaad
Pan Yaad is a three-hour steel pan concert held on the grounds of the House of Culture in Belize City every year in September.
6 – Garifuna Settlement Day
After a series of uprising against the British forced the Garifuna to leave their island home, they eventually settled in Belize, an event commemorated every November 19with a dramatic re-enactment of their canoe landing, lots of live music and drumming, a celebration of traditional Garifuna foods like hudut (a fish coconut stew) and cassava bread.
7 – Cacaofest
Cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, has been grown in Belize for millennia. The southern town of Punta Gorda in Toledo District is the heart of the cacao-growing area of Belize. For one weekend a year, the town and the surrounding environs celebrate all things with chocolate, including unusual recipes like chocolate beer and chocolate soap.
8 – Independence Day
On September 21, 1981, after many long centuries as a British colony, Belize became a fully independent nation. Belize City and other municipal areas explode with the three colors of the national flag (red, white, and blue) in a high-energy celebration of all things patriotic: dancing, poems, music, and lots of street food.
Where to stay in Belize
One of the top resorts in Belize is Laru Beya. Situated just minutes from the traditional Garifuna village of Seine Bight in the Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize, Laru Beya offers guests beachfront tranquility in a gorgeous, natural setting. Guests stay in one of the resort’s elegant rooms or suites and can enjoy sumptuous meals prepared at the on-site Quarter Deck Restaurant. Run by a professional chef, the restaurant prepares homemade bread and fresh-squeezed juices daily and specializes in Italian, Mexican, and Caribbean dishes made to order.
Laru Beya is just three miles from the village of Placencia, an idyllic fishing town that has retained all of its traditional charm. The village has a charming selection of cafes, restaurants, shops, and dive centers that have a full range of scuba and snorkeling equipment.
For more information on Belize and Laru Beya, please visit www.larubeya.com.