San Pedro Soca Festival, Carnival Road March, and Noche Centro Americana: September on Ambergris Caye

by Carolee Chanona

Packed to the brim with activities, September in Belize is always a great idea — and the San Pedro Town Council is excitingly adding four more. This year, the Independence month celebrations kick off on September 16 with Noche Centro Americana followed by the San Pedro Soca Festival, headlined by soca star Destra. On September 20, pre-independence celebrations on September 20 herald Independence Day on September 21. In 2022, Belize celebrates its 41st anniversary of Independence on September 21; the island of Ambergris Caye will not only take to its formal Government-led event, but later that day, masqueraders will take to its cobblestone streets for the island’s Carnival Road March!

September 1: Flag Day


Proud Belizeans parade through the streets of Belize during Independence Day celebrations. Image via Belize Tourism Board

To kick off the official month of Independence Day celebrations, September 1 will be celebrated as Flag Day, complete with a patriotic flag-raising ceremony at Central Park.

September 9: Fire Engine Parade

Image via iTravel Belize

Each year, the children of the participating town await the parade led by fire engines with a motorcade to follow of festive golfcarts and well-decorated bicycles decked out in red, white, and blue.

September 10: St. George’s Caye Day Uniform Parade

The victory of the Baymen on St. George’s Caye ensured that Belize would become an English-speaking country rather than a Spanish-speaking one after the Spanish invasion. Annually on September 10, the astounding battle — and the Baymen’s victory in 1798 — is celebrated by a citizen’s and children’s uniform parade.

September 15 & 16: Tree Planting Ceremonies

Civic pride also means environmental pride. With a short ceremony, tree planting will take place on both days in schools, the park, and the stadium.

September 16: Noche Centro Americana

Recognizing our Central American neighbors’ contribution to the island community, Noche Centro Americana celebrates the independence of six countries in the region: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Past years have included a colorful parade through the streets of San Pedro Town and other cultural activities, including performances.

September 17: San Pedro Soca Festival 

Mayor Wally Nunez and the San Pedro Town Council are proud to present a new San Pedro Soca Festival in partnership with Hon. Andre Perez, the BRS Area Rep. The festival will include a Soca Fest on September 17 at the Saca Chispas Field with headliner International Soca Artist, the Queen of Bacchanal, Destra with her band. The entrance fee is $50, with (online) pre-sales now live.

September 19: Service Day


Celebrating the value and virtue of public service, this is an opportunity for San Pedranos to give back to their community through service! Details are to be determined, but there’ll be a clean-up campaign.

September 20: Independence Eve Concert & Fireworks

Saca Chispas is the place to be to herald in Belize’s 41st Independence Day on Ambergris Caye! The dynamic duo of DJ Ana & Ultra Simmo will get the crowd grooving starting at 8 pm, only interrupted by fireworks at midnight.

September 21: Jouvert, Carnival Road March, Independence Day

Before daybreak, masqueraders will hit the cobblestone streets of San Pedro for J’ouvert — pronounced jew-vih — as the unofficial start of Carnival, finishing at sunrise. Steeped in the French tradition, you’ll be bathed (!) in mud, paint, powder, and even chocolate; following the emancipation of negres jardins (garden slaves), the jovial celebrati0on honors the newly freed slaves imitating the former masters that initially imitated them.

With the end of slavery in 1834, the now free people of Trinidad & Tobago could outwardly celebrate their native culture and their emancipation through dress, music, and dancing — the birth of carnival in the Caribbean. While all Caribbean carnivals today celebrate with costumes and dancing, you can experience a different flavor of Carnival depending on where you visit. Ambergris Caye’s Carnival Road March in September — differing from their El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro held in the first quarter of the year — is one you don’t want to miss! Masqueraders line up at 1 pm at Corona Del Mar, and sign-ups are still open for costume dance groups, t-shirt dance groups, and floats.

Later that day, there’s an after party led by DJ Ana & Ultra Simmo at the end of the parade in Boca Del Rio. This is the sweet goodbye to September celebrations in Belize!

This article was published on August 3, with the most recent additions on August 30. Header image: Destra performs during Carnival in 2018 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Image via Sean Drakes/Getty Images and Angela/Hsieh/NPR

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