If you’re a chocolate lover, you should probably start looking at trips to Belize for this May. The country’s annual Chocolate Festival is back this year and promises to be even bigger and better. Here’s a look at what to expect from Belize’s cacao capital, the Toledo district, this spring.
Dates for Belize Chocolate Festival 2023
In case you didn’t know, there’s an entire Facebook page dedicated to all things Belize Chocolate Festival. And recently, the dates for this year’s much anticipated events were confirmed. It’s official: Belize Chocolate Fest is taking place on May 19th and 20th. The announcement came complete with a calendar of events.
It all kicks off on Friday, May 19th with an extravagant chocolate gala at Copal Tree Lodge, located outside of Punta Gorda Town. From 7:00 pm to 11:30 pm, get the chance to indulge in fine food and wine alongside a wide variety of Belizean chocolate and other local products.
Then, on Saturday May 20th, it’s an all day affair with a special focus on Belize’s culture and hardworking cacao farmers. From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm the village of Santa Cruz in Toledo will come alive with showcases of the Maya culture. That includes the traditional deer dance. An important heritage practice, it tells the story of the relationship between Maya people and the land. Day two of the chocolate festival will also feature tour experiences that include nearby sites like caves, waterfalls, and archaeological sites.
In the evening, get the chance to support local artisans in Punta Gorda Town. The “Celebrate Chocolate” market will showcase local talents, and of course, lots more chocolatey goodness.
A Brief History of Cacao in Belize
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine named Belize one of the top destinations for a chocolate themed vacation. The country was once believed to have been the true cradle of chocolate, and while that has since been debunked, Belize remains a burgeoning destination for experiencing all things cacao.
The Toledo district is home to a large population of the country’s Maya people. In fact, strolling through the streets of Punta Gorda Town, you might even overhear conversations in Mopan or Q’eqchi’ Maya dialects. The country’s sleepy southern district is also its cacao capital.
The industry began in the 90s, when cacao was mostly harvested and shipped off to Europe. Today though, local farmers, chocolatiers, and farmers turned chocolatiers, are reclaiming the aptly named food of the gods. Over a dozen artisan chocolate companies, many of which are locally owned, can now be found across the country.
The Cacao Festival itself is the brainchild of a group of farmers and chocolate makers who wished to showcase their products to the rest of the world. This year will be the festival’s eleventh year.