If there’s one thing the Caribbean is known for, it’s festivals. From colorful costumes parading down the streets of Trinidad to an amalgamation of jazz artists playing beautifully in St. Lucia, there’s a festival for everything. As for Belize, while we do have our dearly beloved September celebrations for Independence Day, the food festivals are arguably the ones many locals and visitors look forward to the most.
Among the many other things that the pandemic took away from us, events and festivals have yet to make a comeback. Festivals in Belize are opportune times to socialize and connect with our people, and when you add food to the mix, it’s hard to pass on the experience. While these events have been postponed this year for all of our safety, we look forward to next year when we can truly indulge in the delicious experiences that make Belize so special. Here are 3 Food Festivals we’re missing extra hard this year.
Images of 2019 Caye Caulker Lobster Fest courtesy Island Bway Photography
Perhaps Belize’s biggest festival in general, Lobster Festival is held every June/ July across three different locations: Caye Caulker, San Pedro, and Placencia. Lobster in all unimaginable forms is the guests of honor, with lobster fishing competitions and best lobster dish prizes as the main activities. A tradition engraved in Belize’s culture – especially for the fisherfolk- the fest has been around for decades, which makes it especially hurt that the large event has been postponed for a second year.
A personal favorite, the Belize Cacao (Chocolate) Festival is held every May in the southernmost town of Punta Gorda. The scenic highways leading to P.G. are worth the five-hour drive from Belize City alone, though the festival itself should be on everyone’s bucket lists. The actual festival is preceded by a wine night the night before, where artisans and vendors having booths at the festival interact with those who come from all over the country to attend the event.
Live music accompanies the plethora of cacao-based dishes that are up for tasting. The actual festival the following day takes place near the water where vendors, artists, and small businesses line both sides of the streets as visitors mingle and purchase souvenirs or food. Chocolate-making demonstrations are the highlight of the event, along with authentic drumming by the Garifuna and steel pan performances.
A more low-key festival but one still highly anticipated is Hopkins’ Mango Festival. Not as big as the others, the mango festival is fairly new but has already made a big splash when it comes to events in Belize. Also held every June, droves of Belizeans and tourists flock to the southeast beach destination to enjoy the ripe mangos in all their glory. Live entertainment, artist and vendor booths are the main draw, as well as all the mango-based concoctions the chefs come up with. Take it from me, even with all the mango-glazed shrimp, mango-garnished pastries, and mango-tamarind smoothies, you’ll still be up for some plain ol’ juicy mangos straight from the tree.