Belizeans are lively, energetic people who enjoy any opportunity to have a good time dancing, drinking and being merry. And with some of the most festive events in Central America, many travelers, when they are deciding to visit Belize ensure that vacation time coincides with certain festivals and events. Below is a list of the top festivals and events so that you can decide when’s the best time to visit Belize.
New Year’s Day
The biggest parties are held on New Year’s Eve, bringing in the New Year dancing is what most Belizeans enjoy doing. However, if you’re still in the mood for dancing, major bars and nightclubs will still have parties on New Year’s Day.
Horse Race in Burrel Boom
Horse racing is very popular in Belize, with races happening for most of the major holidays. On January 1st, people from all over the country visit Burrel Boom for a full day of celebrations as they cheer on their favorite horses.
San Pedro Carnival
This three-day carnival in San Pedro marks the beginning of the Easter Season. This yearly celebration starts three days before Ash Wednesday.
Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival
Every year Placencia‘s sidewalks come alive with the best artwork Belize has to offer! This event will take place February 9 – 10 and is sponsored by the BTIA Placencia chapter.
La Ruta Maya Canoe River Challenge Race
La Ruta Maya River Challenge is a grueling, multi-day canoe race traveling a meandering river route across the country of Belize. The route runs west to east along the Macal and Belize River, once the only link between San Ignacio and the bustling port of Belize City. This is a race for professional and leisure racers.
Hosted by Cotton Tree Lodge, this week’s activities are centered on the history and cultivation of cacao and its transformation into craft chocolate.
Held in the quiet area of Tumul K’in, Blue Creek Village, this day highlights the unique culture being preserved in Southern Belize.
San Pedro Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge
This Eco-Challenge is a 42-mile, two-day kayak race starting on the lagoon side of Ambergris Caye, through the many lagoons in the Northern Ambergris Caye area, up to Bacalar Chico, then down to Robles Point, where all teams camp. The race ends in San Pedro Town.
Easter Week Festivities across Belize
Join Belizeans from across Belize as they celebrate the Easter Season. Go to Benque Viejo del Carmen to witness Semana Santa processions, stand along the highway from Belize City to San Ignacio to see the Holy Saturday Bicycle Classic Race, and visit Burrel Boom on Easter Monday to see horse racing.
The National Agricultural & Trade Show
This trade show is held annually in the capital city of Belmopan. It highlights agricultural diversification, rodeo, livestock, handicraft displays, music, games, and food.
Held in Crooked Tree Village, this Festival celebrates the cashew harvest season, where live Punta music, cashew wine, desserts, Caribbean style dishes and games are the main attractions.
BTB Love Belize Sea Challenge
In this sea challenge, kayakers must endure five days of traversing across the Caribbean Sea. The route stretches from Punta Gorda in Southern Belize to Corozal in Northern Belize, totaling over 190 miles.
Toledo Cacao Festival
This festival opens with a wine and chocolate evening, featuring local and international wines and chocolate-based cocktails. Saturday brings you the Taste of Toledo cooki and craft fair, with chocolate demonstrations and a host of cacao-related activities.
Monkey River Festival
This is the country’s premiere Creole event and is a fun festival with traditional games for adults and children. It includes greasy pole, watermelon eating, lime and spoon, tug-of-war, three-legged race, needle and thread and sack races. Along with Jankunu stick, a challenge to all Jankunu dancers throughout Belize to come and show off their stick walking skills – an old tradition which Monkey River Village is determined to revive.
Lobster Festivals in San Pedro, Placencia, and Caye Caulker
In celebration of the opening of the lobster season, San Pedro, Placencia, and Caye Caulker offer a week full of activities. A wide array of dishes are showcased and activities such as fishing tournaments, bicycle races, and social events take place.
Dia de San Pedro
San Pedro day is a major event in Ambergris Caye. The community comes out on that day to celebrate the island’s patron saint and honor the fishermen and founding fathers who have lead San Pedro to grow from a small fishing village to what it currently is. Celebrations include a fair, cultural dance, fishing tournaments, and parties.
Every year, the village of Hopkins hosts Mango Fest, a glorious celebration of the succulent mango fruit.
Held in the village of Progresso in the Corozal District, this festival celebrates the Maya culinary tradition of cooking pork. “Pibil,” meaning “buried,” refers to the tradition of wrapping the pork in a banana leaf, then burying it in a fire pit for roasting. A host of other activities round out the festival.
Benque Viejo del Carmen Fiesta
This is a local fair that celebrates the day of their patron saint with cultural shows, marimba bands, food, and games.
The International Costa Maya Festival
Held in downtown San Pedro. The huge festival hosts Central American and Mexican music groups and beauty queens, as well as cultural dances, international cuisine, and arts and crafts.
Tres Pescados Slam Tournament
Every summer, the largest fly-fishing event in Belize takes place in Ambergris Caye. Over twenty teams participate in this tournament looking for the coveted Grand Slam of bonefish, permit, and tarpon.
La Fiesta de San Joaquin
This festival is a cultural extravaganza celebrated in San Joaquin Village in Corozal in honor of the community’s patron saint.
Carnival Road March
This yearly march through the streets of Belize highlights our many cultures and history.
Over a thousand partygoers engage in this annual paint and chocolate festival through the streets of Belize City. This event is done on the morning of Carnival Day.
This public and bank holiday is the celebration of the Battle of St. George’s Caye Day. Official ceremonies, citizens’ parades and street festivals are held nationwide, which include food, live music and a re-enactment of the actual site.
The official Independence Day ceremonies and parade are held. This public and bank holiday is the celebration of the country’s Independence. Official Independence Day ceremonies and parades are held as well as numerous cultural, religious and sporting events.
Annual Belize Bird Festival
An annual festival where bird lovers flock from all over the world for their common love of birds.
Belize International Film Festival
This festival showcases top Central American and Caribbean films.
Battle of the Drums
A celebration of Garifuna music and culture with live performances by some of the foremost musicians at work today. The Battle of the Drums is a Garifuna drumming competition, allowing drumming groups to compete and showcase their musical talents in playing five different categories of Garifuna music.
Garifuna Settlement Day
November 19th marks the arrival of the Garifuna people to Stann Creek and is mainly celebrated in Southern Belize. The reenactment of their arrival is the main attraction, with religious, cultural and parade activities continuing for the rest of the day.
All of Belize celebrates Thanksgiving and you can surely expect restaurants and resorts to be serving turkey dinner and other Thanksgiving treats. As to why Belize celebrates Thanksgiving, some say it’s due to the American Media’s influence in Belize, however, it is also due to religion.
Holiday Boat Lighting Parade
During the holiday season, boats are decorated and sail from Boca del Rio to Coconuts Hotel in San Pedro. Prizes are awarded to the boats depicting best creativity and overall design. The award party has something fun for the entire family.
This is a national holiday and most restaurants and stores are closed except for popular restaurants and resorts. On this day locals have backyard family BBQs and stay home all day, however, the younger crowds usually go out with friends at nighttime.
The day after Christmas is also a holiday and most Belizeans head to the racetracks for a day filled with happy cheering and lots of drinking. The biggest horse racing event takes place in the village of Burrell Boom near Belize City but in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena there is also a lively smaller event.
New Year’s Eve
Since Christmas Eve and Christmas are usually days that Belizeans spend with their families, New Year’s Eve is when everyone goes out to party with friends. Some people, of course, will also party with their family on New Year’s Eve but it is most common for individuals to go to a nightclub and bring in the New Year with their partners and friends. So hit up a nightclub or bar and get your dance on!
Belize Events and Festivals The calendar in Belize is jam-packed with exciting festivals, competitions, sporting events, and other public celebrations. Whether it’s a town celebrating a local event or a nationwide holiday, you can always count on lots of delicious food, homemade crafts, and live music. Here is a partial calendar of some of the top events and festivals in Belize: Belize Cultural Festivals
Carnival – Every February, the entire country turns out to celebrate Carnival, but the best place to see colorful parades and street fun is in San Pedro, the capital of Ambergris Caye. Don’t miss the crazy costumes and outrageous body painting.
Columbus Day – Columbus personally traveled to Belize on his final journey to the Americas, and every October 9, the entire country celebrates with a Pan American theme that features music, parades, and beauty pageants.
St. George’s Caye Day – The small island that served as the first colonial capital of Belize was the location of a historic naval triumph over the Spanish on September 10, 1798, that led to Belize becoming the only outpost of the British Empire in Central America.
Dia de San Pedro – Every June, the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye holds a week-long party to celebrate its founding.
Township Day – Not satisfied with the June party, San Pedro celebrates every November on the occasion of the government formally recognizing it as a town with plenty of music, food, and boat races.
Deer Dance Day – Every August, the Maya population of Belize honor their long heritage with a special ritualistic dance that celebrates a traditional deer hunt.
Independence Day – Belize became an independent nation on September 21, 1981, and every year the entire country turns out in red, white, and blue (the national colors) for patriotic poetry recitals, parades, and plenty of music.
Easter – Belize is largely a country of the faithful, and Easter is the only four-day holiday on the calendar.
Garifuna Settlement Day – On November 19, 1832, the wearied Garifuna people arrived on the shores of Belize after participating in a revolt against the British on the island of St. Vincent. Today, Garifuna Settlement Day includes a dramatic re-enactment of their water landing along with lots and lots of Garifuna music, dancing, and food.
Belize Music Festivals
Battle of the Drums – Garifuna musical troupes from all over Central America arrive in Punta Gorda each November to engage in a dramatic all-night drumming competition in five different categories.
La Ruta Belize Challenge – What began as a one-off event to raise awareness about the environment has become an annual four-day race pitting teams of canoeists to be the first to cross the country.
Baron Bliss Day – Now official known as National Heroes and Benefactors Day, the Monday closest to March 9 is a time for boating regattas and other events to honor the generosity of Belize’s greatest benefactor.
Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Challenge – The day before Easter is when the country’s oldest and most popular sporting event takes place. First held in 1928 to encourage Belizeans to explore the country by bicycle, the race now pits teams from around the country and the world in a grueling 142-mile loop that starts in Belize City and heads to San Ignacio before returning to Belize City. At the end of the race, there are parades, parties, music, and plenty of celebrating.
Other Belize Festivals & Events
Cashew Day – Cashews thrive in Belize’s fertile soil, and every year in May, the northern sections of the country where cashew grow hold a multi-day festival to honor the tasty nut. Definitely don’t miss the chance to try cashew wine, made from the fruit of the plant rather than the nut, along with a bevy of other cashew-themed goodies.
Chocolate Festival – Chocolate has been an important food since the Ancient Maya ruled the area thousands of years ago. Today, Belize’s southern Toledo District holds a Chocolate Festival every May that features fine wine, a delicious assortment of chocolates, and interesting chocolate products like chocolate beer and chocolate soap.
Lobsterfest – The islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in the north and the Placencia Peninsula in the south welcome the opening of lobster season with a public party. Enjoy dozens of different lobster dishes along with live music, games, and plenty of dancing to burn off the calories.
International Costa Maya Festival – A combination cultural celebration of Maya heritage and the country’s biggest beauty pageant, the town of San Pedro comes alive with musical performances by top stars, games, and lots of food and fun.