The Central American coastal country of Belize is known for its rich Latin heritage, gorgeous Carribean Sea shorelines, and, of course, a number of unique festivals, events, and celebrations throughout the year in addition to the global celebrations of Christmas and New Year's Eve.
From the Belize Carnival known as Fiesta de Carnaval held the week before Lent in February to the Deer Dance Festival in August, no matter what time of year you travel to this Central American country you'll find some way of joining the locals in celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Belize.
Although not all of the events listed below have websites associated with them, you should check the official website or run a quick Google search before you travel to make sure dates and times are still accurate as inclement weather or unexpected circumstances could delay or postpone these events.
Fiesta de Carnaval, or the Belize Carnival, is held the week before Lent begins. The most boisterous celebrations erupt in San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, and feature a traditional flour fight, so don't be surprised if you emerge from the fray covered in colorful flour.
Other features of this loud celebration include singing, dancing, parades, a painting competition, and special group dances called comparas. Make sure you don't wear anything that you don't mind getting a little dirty as the flour fight is sure to coat all of your belongings in the colorful powder.
In honor of Sir Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, the fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal who died offshore of Belize of food poisoning after changing his will to leave two million dollars to the country, this Belize City holiday features a sailboat race as well as horse races and kiting competitions.
While you're there, be sure to check out the Baron Bliss Memorial Lighthouse and Park in the Fort George area and visit the late Bliss' tomb under the lighthouse overlooking the harbor entrance to the city.
Easter in Belize is a weeklong holiday where visitors can expect nationwide shutdowns as Belizeans attend religious services and take family trips from Good Friday through Easter Monday.
Many towns and cities across Belize feature special reenactments of the crucifixion, the most famous and colorful of which takes place in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen in western Belize. Additionally, a cross-country cycling expedition is held over Easter week each year.
Belize loves lobsters (and most seafood), and during the months of June and July, there are a number of great lobster festivals across the country featuring kabobs, tacos, and fresh-out-of-the-shell lobsters along with music, dancing, pina coladas, and other fresh cocktails and snacks.
Lobster season starts in mid-June with San Pedro Lobsterfest, the newest addition to the Belize Lobsterfest roster; then comes Placencia Lobsterfest in the south held the last weekend of June. Last is Caye Caulker Lobsterfest in early July—a can't-miss party for any lobster enthusiast.
Held in the Belize and Guatemala border town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen, the Fiesta includes a lively carnival and other attractions. This multi-day celebration is commonly known as "Benque" and typically begins on July 1 with a series of religious celebrations called Las Aboradas followed by 15 days of carnival rides, pageants, parades, live music, and a firework show to close out the festivities on July 16.
Formerly known as the Sea & Air Festival, the Costa Maya Festival in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, is a five-day long Belize event that unites music, dance, cuisine, and other cultural celebrations from the five "Mundo Maya" countries: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
A uniquely Belizean experience, the Deer Dance Festival is held in the Mayan village of San Antonio in Belize's southern Toledo District. The event features a ritualized dance emulating the hunting of a deer, followed by locals attempting to scale a greased pole.
Honoring Belize's 1798 defeat of the Spaniards in battle, the country celebrates with street festivals and a reenactment of the battle at the actual site.
Other events and festivities that are part of this celebration include the crowning of Miss San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a children's bicycle race, a fishing tournament, a tug-of-war competition, and plenty of local food and drinks to keep guests happy all day long.
Just after the St. George's Caye Day celebration ends, the country of Belize continues its partying to commemorate gaining independence from England in 1981 with a series of colorful parades, processions, and events.
Another great event to check out on this day of celebration is The Expo, a 15,000-person event featuring local vendors, delicious food, dancing, singing, and shopping.
Mostly concentrated in Belize's Garifuna settlements, Garifuna Settlement Day celebrates the 1832 arrival of the Garinagu people in Dangriga, Belize by featuring a variety of live punta music.
Started by civil rights activist Thomas Vincent Ramos in 1941, this annual holiday centers around the city of Dangriga where the people who were exiled from the Grenadines by the British army sought refuge.