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Exploring the Rich Culture of Belize: A Guide to the Top Traditional Festivals and Events

Belize, a tiny nation in Central America, has a rich cultural heritage from its indigenous peoples, the Maya, and its colonial settlers. Many celebrations of the country’s rich history and culture are held annually. In this article, we will learn about the best Belizean festivals and events and what makes them unique.

Top 4 Most Celebrated Festivals and Events

1. LaRuta Maya Belize River Challenge

The Belize River serves as the course for this four-day canoe race, which takes place in March. It is a charity event that raises awareness of the country’s natural and cultural treasures. The course takes runners through rural communities and ancient Mayan sites, highlighting Guatemala’s rich cultural history. The LaRuta Maya Belize River Challenge is an effort to recognize the contributions of the Mayan culture to Belize’s cultural and historical development and to honour those who have worked to preserve that culture and heritage.[1]

Figure 1. People on La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Event. Source: https://caribbeanlifestyle.com/la-ruta-maya-belize-river-challenge-returns-in-2022/

Visitors may watch the race from the riverbanks or authorized viewing places. There will also be various other activities and events going on, such as a flea market, a concert, and a cultural show, all in celebration of the race.[2]

2. San Pedro Internasional Costa Maya Festival

San Pedro, on the island of Ambergris Caye, hosts the annual San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival every August. Festival-goers may expect to partake in musical performances, dances, culinary demonstrations, and other cultural events as they revel in the rich cultural legacy of their nation. The Miss Costa Maya pageant attracts participants from all over Central and South America and is the event’s centre piece. Cultural events of the festival include performances of traditional Mayan music, dance, and art; displays of Mayan artefacts; and demonstrations of Mayan rituals and ceremonies.[3]

Figure 2. Costa Maya Festivals. Source: https://www.ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2015/august/11/costa-maya-festival-wraps-busy-weekend-san-pedro

Attendees may participate in Mayan culinary demos, craft workshops, and cultural displays and see performances by established and up-and-coming artists worldwide. The Miss Costa Maya pageant is the most anticipated event of the festival. Contestants wear traditional Mayan garb and show off their talents in categories including talent and interview.[4].

3. Garifuna Settlement Day

In recognition of the rich cultural history of the country’s Garifuna population, a holiday called Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated every year in November. The Garifuna are an Afro-Caribbean people whose culture is a unique synthesis of African, Caribbean, and indigenous traditions like the Mayans. During Garifuna Settlement Day, locals celebrate their culture by performing traditional music and dance that draw inspiration from Mayan and other indigenous traditions.[5]

Figure 3. Garifuna Sett
lement Day. Source: https://www.sanpedrosun.com/arts-culture/2018/11/01/san-pedro-town-announces-calendar-of-events-for-garifuna-settlement-day/

The “Punta” dance, a high-energy type of music and dance created by the Garifuna people, is just one example of the traditional performance that will be on display for visitors to the Garifuna Settlement Day. The habits and traditions of the Garifuna people may also be shown in various ways, such as via artisan fairs, food booths, and cultural exhibitions.[6]

4. Benque Viejo Del Carmen Festival

As a tribute to its Mayan roots, Benque Viejo del Carmen hosts an annual Fiesta del Benque. There will be cultural events such as traditional music and dance performance influenced by Mayan culture. Because of the profound impact of the Mayan civilization on the area’s heritage, the Benque Viejo del Carmen Festival serves as a celebration and memorial to that era in Mexico’s past.[7]

Figure 4. Benque Viejo del Carmen Festival. Source: https://repeatingislands.com/2012/07/09/annual-benque-fiesta-begins-in-belize-this-weekend/

Mayan-inspired music and dance performances and other cultural events, such as a craft market, food vendors, and art displays, will be included. Visitors may learn more about the Mayan civilization’s impact on the area and immerse themselves in the region’s rich culture and customs during this year’s event.[8]

 

Conclusion

Belize’s culture is celebrated throughout the year with various festivals and events. The LaRuta Maya Belize River Challenge and Garifuna Settlement Day are open to the public this year. Learn about Mayan heritage via its artefacts, music, dance, and food. The Mayan heritage of the city is celebrated annually with events like the Miss Costa Maya pageant and the Benque Viejo del Carmen Festival. Celebrations of African, Caribbean, and indigenous cultures are highlighted on Garifuna Settlement Day. Amazing as they are, these celebrations highlight Belize’s rich cultural variety and natural wonders.

 

ON THIS DAY

March 18, 250 A.D:

On this day, the Mayan monarch Pacal the Great was buried in the Temple of the inscriptions. He governed the city of Palenque in present-day Mexico. After its discovery in 1952, the tomb of Pacal the Great quickly rose to prominence as a prime example of Maya architecture and art that had survived almost intact. The tomb of Pacal the Great is a significant part of Belize’s cultural heritage and a reminder of the long-lasting impact of the Maya people.[9]

 

[1]Carolee Chanona,“La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Can Return in 2022,” Caribbean Culture and lifestyle (Caribbean Culture and Lifestyle, January 17, 2022),https://caribbeanlifestyle.com/la-ruta-maya-belize-river-challenge-returns-in-2022/.
[2]Carolee Chanona,“La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Can Return in 2022,” Caribbean Culture and lifestyle (Caribbean Culture and Lifestyle, January 17, 2022),https://caribbeanlifestyle.com/la-ruta-maya-belize-river-challenge-returns-in-2022/.
[3]DORIAN NUÑEZ,“Costa Maya Festival Wraps up Busy Weekend in San Pedro,” Ambergris Today, August 11, 2015, https://www.ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2015/august/11/costa-maya-festival-wraps-busy-weekend-san-pedro.
[4]DORIAN NUÑEZ,“Costa Maya Festival Wraps up Busy Weekend in San Pedro,” Ambergris Today, August 11, 2015, https://www.ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2015/august/11/costa-maya-festival-wraps-busy-weekend-san-pedro.
[5]Janelle Cowo,“San Pedro Town Announces Calendar of events for Garifuna Settlement Day-the San PedroSun,” The San Pedro Sun, November 2018, https://www.sanpedrosun.com/arts-culture/2018/11/01/san-pedro-town-announces-calendar-of-events-for-garifuna-settlement-day/.
[6]Janelle Cowo,“San Pedro Town Announces Calendar of Events for Garifuna Settlement Day-the San PedroSun,” The San Pedro Sun, November 2018, https://www.sanpedrosun.com/arts-culture/2018/11/01/san-pedro-town-announces-calendar-of-events-for-garifuna-settlement-day/.
[7]Belize Hub,“Do Not Miss Benque Fiesta 2022 in Belize | Annual Benque Fiesta,” Belizehub (Belize Hub Inc, June 7, 2022), https://www.belizehub.com/benque-fiesta/.
[8]Belize Hub,“Do Not Miss Benque Fiesta 2022 in Belize | Annual Benque Fiesta,” Belizehub (Belize Hub Inc, June 7, 2022), https://www.belizehub.com/benque-fiesta/.
[9]Joshua J Mark,“K’inich Janaab’Pakal,” World History Encyclopedia, March 28, 2014, https://www.worldhistory.org/Kinich_Janaab_Pacal/.

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