While America may have the designation of "melting pot of the world", it's not the only contender to that title. Despite being populated largely by untapped wilderness, Belize manages to pack a lot of culture into its populated spaces. The culture and traditions of the Creole, Maya, Mestizos, and Garifuna blend together to create a synthesized mixture of food, music, and history. If you want to meet the people of Belize and immerse yourself in their lived experiences, these five upcoming festivals can't be beat.
The September Celebrations
You can't simply just pick one event for September. The entire month is jam-packed with festivities, and it can sometimes feel like there's something to do every day. The events start with the celebration of St. George’s Caye Day on September 10, and patriotic festivities continue at a breakneck pace until the nation's Independence Day on September 21.
Garifuna Settlement Day
After being exiled from their homeland in the Caribbean for an uprising against the British, the Garifuna diaspora finally found a home in Belize. It's been over two centuries since their arrival, but their arrival in Belize is memorialized every November 19. The remaining Garifuna, comprising 4% of the population, relive their arrival in traditional dugout canoes. But that's just the start of a day of festivities that's rich with food, dance, and music.
The Hopkins Mango Festival
Scheduled for the first week of June, the annual Mango Festival celebrates the harvest of one of the most emblematic fruits grown in Belize. Located in the laidback and inviting coastal village of Hopkins, the village spotlights the over 20 different varieties of mango that grow in the region. In addition to music, contests, and competitions, guests can stuff themselves on delicious mangos and a number of different dishes made with the local produce.
The people of the Placencia Peninsula welcome in the Summer season with the three day Lobsterfest event. This year's Lobsterfest will take place from June 21 - 23, and it will bring out some of the region's most talented chefs who compete to create the tastiest lobster dish. But there's a lot more to do than just eat. It's also an opportunity for local artisans to show off their product, and a beach party ensures that festivities continue well into the night.
International Costa Maya Festival
The Maya Empire once spanned the majority of Belize, but while their government may have long fallen, that doesn't mean the culture has withered away. Taking place in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, the Costa Maya Festival has become one of the largest events in the country. Traditional festivities like live music, dancing, and strong drinks and food are complemented by a beauty pageant. This year's festival will be held in the first week of August.
There's plenty to do throughout Belize, but if you want to explore everything, you'll need a way to get around. Rely on the shuttle and tour services available through www.untamebelize.com if you want to make the most of your time in Belize.