Carnaval in San Pedro: A Look Back on the Festival at the House of Culture, Lots of Pictures & This Year’s Events

Carnaval is here.  The official pre-Lenten party that is celebrated in different but generally raucous ways around the world.  Mardi Gras, Carnival, Fat Tuesday, it is the three days of partying up until Ash Wednesday went Lent begins.   Carnaval is from the Latin “carnem levare” = take away meat and it’s an important holiday and celebration in many Catholic and Anglican countries.


San Pedro is one of the last areas in Belize that still celebrates.  Take a look how we do it on Ambergris Caye…

This weekend’s line-up.

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A FANTASTIC way to get a sense of the history of the important holiday in San Pedro is by stopping by the new San Pedro House of Culture run by San Pedrano and Town Councilman Mito Paz.

It’s hard not to tease him about this sign…you almost kick it over on the way in, it’s about one foot tall. 🙂


Mito has done a fantastic job.  Let me just show you a few things on display.


A head dress…


And one of the biggest traditions…the comparsas.  Generally groups of people in costume dancing and parading in the streets.  Often men dressed as women.  He’s got some FANTASTIC old pictures in San Pedro.

Can you find the Honorable Minister Manuel Heredia here in his younger days?

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And the kids used to put together groups as well…with amazing costumes.


Carnaval would start weeks before with adults scaring the crap out of kids at night with masks.

Now, now…I’m sure it was ALL in good fun.


And then the actual painting.  Now paints (usually house paint) is watered down and put in squeeze bottles.   Back then, paints were made using lard and colors…


Eggs, which are now tossed (against the rules!), were too valuable back then.  Children and parents would carefully hollow out eggs (eating the insides) and string them up to dry.  Then they would be filled with perfume and water and sealed carefully shut with wax.

How cool is that?

The costumes were beautiful and hand painted.  This dress alone, with fruit painted along the bottom, is worth stopping in to see.

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An old noise maker used during the parading.


And then the king of the Carnaval, the slightly promiscuous Don Carnaval.


The true ladies man.


Carnaval is not as elaborate as it once was but it is still quite a party.  And all starts this weekend.  Check out the schedule above and some of the pictures from the last few years.  You may want to leave your golf cart on the out skirts of town and you may want to wear some old clothes but kids and adults are respectful.

In general, they will paint you a little if you want to be painted and then will respect you if you just want to go and take pictures.

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Is anyone getting married this weekend?  I can’t think of a more fun “trash the dress” photo shoot.carnaval

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A very unique San Pedro holiday – and one you do not want to miss.  And you really don’t want to miss the display at the House of Culture.  There are framed photos and stacks of others with lots of faces you will recognize and spots right in town that are hard to recognize…

Love old photos of San Pedro.  Amazing job Mito Paz.

AND…he wanted me to tell you that he is looking for volunteers to help out at the SPHOC.

“Are you looking for an opportunity to serve the youths and promote culture in our island? We welcome your time and talent! Volunteers needed at the new House of Culture.”