Belizeans love to party! We love holidays and will find just about any reason to have a celebration. Apart from the many different celebrations held nationwide, Ambergris Caye has four special occasions.
The San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival
This Costa Maya festival is a celebration of the Mundo Maya countries throughout Central America. The first festival was held in 1991 and was called the Sea and Air Festival. All five Mundo Maya countries (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) participated. Dancers, cultural performers and musical entertainers from these countries are hosted in San Pedro Town for six days of celebrations.
The festival is held either during the month of July or August, and commences on the Tuesday of the designated week and ends on Sunday. Each country is assigned a night on which their culture and talent is displayed with Sunday being the grand finale.
Beginning in 1996 the first ever Reina de la Costa Maya or Queen of the Mayan Coast Beauty Pageant is held on the first night of the festival. Contestants from each country compete to offer the best representation of the Central American coast using the categories of cultural costumes, swimwear and evening gowns.
Entertainers offer festival goers a wide array of music including Punta, Reggae, Soca, Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, and traditional Maya music. Cultural presentations are usually presented in the form of theatrical dances. These dances tell of the Mayan culture, traditions and rich heritage.
Organized by a non-profit committee to promote goodwill among Central American countries and to encourage visitors to Belize, the festival grounds also has booths displaying arts and craft, games, clothing, food as well as rides and carnival games for the young and young at heart.
San Pedro Town is one of the very last places in the country of Belize that observes Carnival. San Pedro's Carnival is similar to the New Orleans Mardi Gras (in meaning, not size). It is observed during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season and is a pagan celebration during which time people can indulge in bodily pleasures that they will have to give up during lent. The local government of San Pedro Town usually organizes a week of fun events for visitors and locals.
Comparsas dancers form groups and dress themselves in outlandish customs and dance for money through the main streets of the town. One of the most popular comparsa groups is the male comparsa group. Groups of men usually well known and influential men in the community dress up like women and dance. Each year prizes are given to the best dance group and for the past few years the men have taken home the prize.
Children from all ages also participate in carnival. The community leaders annually stress that the season should be celebrated in a respectful and peaceful manner. It usually is. On the last day of Carnival painters flood the street to paint each other. This simply means that a mixture of water paint and water or raw eggs is used to paint people on the streets, the goal being to paint as many people as you can. If you don't want to be painted stay in your hotel room. It can be wild but fun.
San Pedro Day
San Pedro Day is observed on June 27th every year and celebrates the first group of families who fled from the Caste War in Yucatan Mexico and made Ambergris Caye their home around 1847. Each year the town celebrates by having parades, educational workshops and lectures on the islanders' history and ancestors, special church masses, blessings of the fleet and local fishermen, dances, special concerts and a fun day for children and adults.
San Pedro was declared a town by the government of Belize in 1984 and November 27th is observed as Township Day. The local government Town Board organizes annual events including boat races, fishing tournaments, parades, musical entertainment and a small festival to celebrate the occasion.
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