Holidays and Festivals
This is a monthly calendar for both Ambergris Caye and the entire country because...who doesn't love a good party? Festivals in Belize, Belize Carnival, parades, and parties...what's happening during each month of the year around the country.
Because if you are visiting - or even if you've relocated to Belize, it can be hard to keep on top of all of the events that are happening around the island and the country...
Each month, I hope to give you an overview of these events and...why I think it can be so fun to visit during this time of the year.
January is one of the busiest times of the year for tourism – the weather is just about perfection and the island is bustling. For more read: Why You Will Love Belize in January
New Year’s Eve is a big celebration in San Pedro. Most bars and restaurants have special foods and drinks and music. There is a big fireworks display in town at midnight – the town feels like one big party.
Usually on the last Tuesday of January, Estel’s Dine by the Sea – the most popular breakfast spot in San Pedro – holds a big BBQ cook-off. Live music, grillers from Belize and the US and lots of food. Check out 2023’s 11th Annual BBQ Rib Cook-off for more information.
Texas artist and island favorite Kelly McGuire comes to Ambergris Caye for his birthday – and always plays a bunch of shows for fans and his favorite charities on the island.
The Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival held its 18th annual celebrations in 2023 – such a fun event in one of the most charming seaside villages in Belize or anywhere. Food, artists from around the country and fun times. See my visit to the festival a few years back.
Carnaval on Ambergris Caye is one of the more unique events of the year. It falls on the days leading up to Fat Tuesday – and that moves around with Easter. It’s the big party before we “tighten up” for Lent. We have a very “only in San Pedro” set of traditions. People in flamboyant costumes, often cross-dressing, and dancing in the streets, throwing paint at each other and more…you can read more about this fun event here.
Head to Crooked Tree, Belize as the freshwater lagoons dry up and the birds flock to the area. It’s incredible. The otherworldly 5 foot tall jabiru stork is one of dozens you’ll see…
La Ruta Maya is the biggest sporting event of the year. A four-day 2 man- or woman per canoe race from the west of Belize to the east. It starts under the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio at dawn on a Friday, overnights in Banana Bank, paddles all day Saturday and overnights in Double Head Cabbage, and then the next night in Burrell Boom and then the weary athletes paddle into Belize City on Monday. The Monday is a national holiday (see below) The race is 180 miles in all. It’s a great event to attend. There are parties or brams waiting for the canoers…canoe-ists? at each of the overnight stops. Here’s the bram I attended in Boom a bunch of years back– and my trip to the finish line.
Heroes & Benefactors Day: Originally known as Baron Bliss Day after a man who never set foot on the actual shores of Belize but fell in love with the country and was buried here. It’s a fascinating story and a cool national holiday that’s celebrated on an early Monday in March.
Easter is not just a day in Belize – it’s a week. At least! Also called “Semana Santa” throughout Central America and Mexico; it’s also one of – if not THE most popular week for Belizeans to travel to the beaches to relax and party. It’s a mix of religious observation and festival. And the cayes can be very busy – meaning booked carts and hotel rooms – during this week. Here are 10 Things To Know About Easter in Belize
The National Agriculture and Trade Show (or “The Ag”) – the largest weekend gathering of Belizeans in Belize – takes place at the fairgrounds in Belmopan. This event is awesome and overwhelming all at once. Live music, rodeo, animals, plants, games and rides, sales and vendors, a giant flea market, thousands of people…and it is always HOT. I’ve been twice and had so much fun. Area hotels book up fast and early! Usually, the first weekend of May, 2023’s event takes place the weekend of April 28-30. Here are my posts about it
May 1st is a National Holiday: Labour Day. It is the start of summer and schools and banks are closed. I like this: Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. I might add and subtract from the categories a bit but I do like it.
The Belize Chocolate Festival. 2023 marks the 15th anniversary of this event and it will be held on May 19th and 20th. I went years ago – and the street festival on Saturday, followed by a cultural day at the Lubaantun Maya site was so fantastic. See here for the 2023 details.
Dia De San Pedro: San Pedro Town is named in honor of St. Peter – the patron saint of fishermen, net builders and ship builders. And during the last week of June, he is celebrated. Much of the activity during the week centers around the Catholic church, with evening novena (or days of prayer) leading up to the day of celebration.
There have been 2023 events announced by the Church on June 29th (see their Facebook page for more) and the very popular Miss San Pedro competition is June 30th.
San Pedro Lobster Festival: San Pedro’s Lobster Festival is so much fun – a week of scheduled day time and then nighttime events that culminate in the BIG Saturday night Lobster Festival Block Party. Bring all your freshest lobster gear, outfits…I feel like this sunglass set could be a bit hit – and get ready to party like a LobStar. Sorry…I had to do it.
Caye Caulker Lobster Festival: It’s a laid-back, daytime and nighttime block party weekend. So fun…it might be my favorite of the three. (Shhh…) And it’s great to go over from San Pedro for the day but beware…the water taxis are PACKED. SO either stay overnight in Caye Caulker (IDEAL but book ahead!) and try to find a private boat to take you and your friends over. That makes for a CRAZY fun day.
Here’s my last trip over. And here are the dates for 2023.
The Placencia LobsterFest: If you plan to be down south, plan to be at the Placencia LobsterFest. A huge fun beach picnic with lots and lots of booths, games and, of course, lobster.
The Butterfly Migration: Each year, almost always at the beginning of July, we will start to see one or two lemon-yellow butterflies go by. And then more…until there are dozens sweeping by, from north to south, sometimes with a random orange one (see my photo!) or black one. It usually hits a peak over a few days but you’ll see them migrating down the country and the cayes, over the oceans, across the reef. It’s gorgeous, the birds are in heaven and very hard to capture with your camera!
September is considered “slow season” – you’ll find less tourists and discounts on hotels and golf carts but you’ll also find Belize’s AMAZING September celebrations. Here are all the reasons that I think September is a great time to visit Belize – and tips and info about what to expect.
September 9th: San Pedro celebrates the next day’s holiday with an evening to late night party at Saca Chispas (the old football field on Back Street in town) – this year, the town will start with a fire engine parade and then party all night long. Here are all the 2023 events in San Pedro.
September 10th: A national holiday, the 10th of September commemorates the victory at the Battle of St George’s Caye in 1798. September is a whole month of independence celebrations and this is the first of two national holidays. There are parades across the country – San Pedro holds a Uniforms Parade with town officials, policemen and women, and flocks of school kids in uniform.
The first BIG parade of September happens in Belize City. On the Saturday before or on September 10th. It’s big, bold, loud and fun. Feathers, sequins and all the music. See my last trip to Belize City for Carnival.
September 21st: Independence Day! San Pedro such a great parade. Here is the full schedule of events in San Pedro in 2023 for September.
Here are 11 Reasons I love October in Belize. Plus, tips, info on the weather and more.
Oct 14, 2023 An annular eclipse of the sun passes over Belize…and I can’t WAIT to see it. All the details here.
Halloween: Belize and especially Ambergris Caye loves Halloween. Halloween weekend is big for parties at nightclubs and especially at the Holiday Hotel. There is a red carpet, some pretty epic costumes and a very late night! And SAGA Humane Society does their biggest fundraiser of the year. Such a fun party – here’s the SAGA event for 2022.
Garifuna Settlement Day: Nov 19th is a national holiday in Belize celebrating the arrival of the Garifuna people on the shores of Southern Belize in 1802. The entire country celebrates the culture, the food, the dance, and the music but nowhere like Dangriga (my visit) and Punta Gorda (one of my best experiences ever in Belize). Such a beautiful unique holiday.
Thanksgiving is a purely American holiday (remind me to ask a Belizean child what a pilgrim is!) – so kids go to school and the banks are open in Belize but…many restaurants do Thanksgiving dinner. With ALL the fixings – Belizean (rice & beans, potato salad, fried plantains) AND America (yams, cranberry, and stuffing). Or maybe you prefer lobster when celebrating Thanksgiving in Belize. And fear not…all the football is on TV at the sports bars.
The Entire Holiday Season: Here are some reasons I think you’ll love December, the Christmas Season, the holidays in Belize. Would you rather lay next to this snowman on the beach or dodge grey snow piles in the mall parking lot looking for a parking space? I know what I pick!
Each year, LOVEFM (the biggest radio station in Belize) sponsors and organizes this super fun lighted holiday parade in San Pedro. It’s almost always on a Sunday evening just as the sun goes does and attended by every single family in San Pedro. It’s SUCH a great way to kick off the holiday season. Take a look at the 2022 parade to see what it is all about.