With many pandemic restrictions lifting or already lifted in Belize, it’s shaping up to be a summer to remember with a number of events returning. And the Caribbean is no stranger to festivals, opportune to socialize and reconnect after more than two years apart. Add in a central focus on food? Sold. In 2022, the Belize Cacao (Chocolate) Festival returns at last to the southernmost town of Belize, Punta Gorda, to revel in all things cacao! Held annually near Sovereign’s Day, which was previously a long weekend in Belize, the festival is two whole days dedicated to the Maya food of the gods in the chocolate stronghold of Belize: Toledo District. Save the date for its signature Wine & Chocolate Gala on Friday, May 20, and the street fair on Saturday, May 21!
A bastion of undiscovered authenticity where it’s always possible to live like a local in Belize, this is a place where the fishing culture is alive, the rain plentiful, and the chocolate? Legendary.
Toledo is Belize’s southernmost district and also the country’s least developed region, bordered to the west and south by Guatemala. In fact, the Guatemalan towns of Livingston and Puerto Barrios are a mere hour’s boat ride by skiff away. It’s nicknamed the Deep South for a reason: the five-hour drive from Belize City traverses the always scenic Hummingbird Highway before veering onto the Southern Highway.
Additionally, Toledo is also home to the highest concentration of traditional Maya villages in Belize. Hidden within her foliage are the most spectacular abandoned cities on earth like Nim Li Punit and Lubantuun, replete with forests of pyramids, temples, and stelae; it’s a testament to the high culture of the Classic Maya, but also the modern-day Yucatec, Mopan, and Q’eqchi’ Maya people, too. Belize’s Toledo District is world-renowned for having some of the finest quality cocoa in the international market.
For days on end, the Chocolate Festival of Belize hosts vendor booths, artists, small businesses, and even performers on both sides of the street in Punta Gorda Town, the district capital. Here, visitors mingle and dive into an authentic culinary adventure with cacao. Learn how to make chocolate and try something new, whether it’s the ancient chocolate drink xocolatl or something new, like chocolate BBQ chicken. And of course, enjoy marimba, steel pan, Garifuna drumming, and even Mayan dance performances.
The festival itself is heralded by a wine night, where participants for the weekend have the chance to mingle before. After all, people come from all over the country to attend! This year, tickets are on sale for BZ$50.00 each; this event is sponsored by businesses like Traveller’s Liquors, Copalli Rum—the Toledo-produced single-estate rum, and Belikin—who produces a seasonal chocolate stout and recently relaunched a redesigned bottle, just in time for the Belize Chocolate Festival.
Started in 2007 by a group of local cacao farmers and chocolate manufacturers, the Chocolate Festival of Belize officially returns to Toledo on May 20 and 21, 2022. The last Chocolate Festival of Belize held was in 2019 before the pandemic shuttered events, and this is one authentic adventure for foodies in Belize!