is a listing of the public and national holidays in Belize.
Dec. 31st-Jan. 1 New Years Day
Annual New Year's Eve Bash at the Lions Den, Holiday Hotel, Big Daddy's Discotheque, Purple Parrot Bar, Shark's Bar, and Jaguar Temple Discotheque
Right before Ash Wednesday Five Day Carnaval
"Mardi Gras a la Island Style"- More below!
|March 9 National Heroes and Benefactors Day (in lieu of 9th March), formerly Baron Bliss Day|
A public and bank holiday commemorating a great benefactor. Every year on March 9th Belize honours the memory and generosity of the
late English Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. Baron Bliss came to
Belize to enjoy sailing and fishing in the clear blue waters of the
Caribbean Sea, and eventually died there. In gratitude for the legacy he
left to the people of Belize each year an official ceremony is held at
his tomb located below the lighthouse in the Belize harbour followed by
fishing and sailing regattas throughout the country. This event is a must
for those who enjoy the excitement of fishing and sailing.
| April 3 Good Friday|
| April 4 Holy Saturday|
| April 5 Easter Sunday|
| April 6 Easter Monday|
| May 1 Labor Day |
|May 11 Dia de las Madres|
Mother's Day, celebration with a religious ceremony
in the evening followed by a dinner at Central Park with cultural presentations, until midnight
|May 25 Sovereign’s Day /Commonwealth Day (in lieu of 24th May)
Celebrated nationwide as the Queen's birthday. National Sports Council holds horse races in Belize City at the National Stadium and in Orange Walk Town at the People's Stadium. Cycle races are held between Cayo and Belmopan.
| June 27 San Pedro Day (Dia De San Pedro), a three day celebration in honour of San Pedro's namesake and Patron Saint. The celebration will take place on the 29th Feast Day of St. Peter|
| July 3 Celebration of the anniversary of the treaty between Britain and Mexico recognizing Ambergris Caye as a part of Belize|
|August Costa Maya Festival|
San Pedro. A festival of music, dance, and foods from Belize, Mexico and neighboring countries.
| Sept. 10 St. Georges Caye Day, National Day|
A colourful parade throughout town with an all day fair at Central Park. Live local music on the beach.
On September 10, 1798, at St. George's Caye Belize, the British
buccaneers (Slaves, Baymen and British soldiers) fought with the Spaniards over the territory of Belize and
This small caye, 9 miles North-East of Belize City, is steeped in history and was once the home of buccaneers and pirates. Between 1650 and 1784 it was the first capital of the British settlement. The island's greatest moment of glory came on 10th September 1798 at the Battle of St. George's Caye.
On this day the Baymen of Belize prepared to defend their tiny settlement against a Spanish invasion of 32 ships carrying 2,000 troops and 500 seamen. The Baymen's modest fleet consisted of one sloop - HMS Merlin - with approximately 117 sailors and troops on board, two sloops with 25 men each and seven gun flats with 16 men each. The decisive battle was going to take place in the waters around St. George's Caye.
At the sound of the first gunfire about 200 colonial troops and Baymen, who had been left to guard the mainland, could not be restrained from going to the aid of the Merlin. Fishing smacks, dories, pitpans and anything else that could float set off with whatever arms could be mustered.
Incredibly, on that memorable day - heavily outnumbered and against all the odds - the Baymen achieved a decisive victory. Black men and white men fought courageously side by side, miraculously without the loss of a single life! The Spanish were not quite so fortunate and many of the dead are buried on nearby Caye Chappel. This was the last attempt made by the Spanish to oust the British from Belize.
The tradition of celebrating this victory is still carried on today,
and each year a week long calendars of events ranging from religious
services to carnivals are held.
Around the country similar official ceremonies and parades take place. Carnivals, sporting activities, fire engine parade, and pop concerts held several days prior to this event.
The mood in the City and District Towns is upbeat as a throngs of
Belizeans from home and abroad, as well as visitors flock the country to
participate in the celebrations. On the morning of September 10th, Belizeans
and friends of Belize parade through the streets and enjoy local dishes,
spirits, and music. The upbeat feeling and festivities continue until
September 21st, Independence Day in Belize.
| September 21 Belize Independence Day |
All day Jump-Up with a formal uniform parade, music, games, food and much more! On September 21, 1981 Belize gained independence from Great Britain. Each
year to celebrate the independence of our nation Belizeans from home and
abroad enjoy carnivals on the main streets of downtown Belize City and the
District Towns. Displays of local arts, crafts, and cultur~al activities
can be seen, while Belizeans in their festive moods dance to the rhythms
of punta rock, soca, and reggae. On occasions-like this, one can sample
local dishes from every ethnic group in the country and experience the
harmony of our many cultures.
Independence Day, which follows the Battle of St. George's Day,
concludes two weeks of celebration.
|October Belikin Spectacular|
Billfish tournament with spectacular prizes. Sponsored by the Belize Game Fish Association.
| Oct. 12 Pan American Day |
(Columbus Day) Regatta racing in Belize City. In Orange Walk and Corozal there are fiestas and beauty contest to celebrate Mestizo culture. Horse and cycle races. Tourism Week: Activities include silent and Dutch auction, grand vacation raffle drawing and fair.
|Nov. 19 Garifuna Settlement Day |
The Garifuna (pronounced Ga-RIF-una), or Black Caribs, are a unique cultural and ethnic group. They first appeared in this area over 300 years ago, when escaped and shipwrecked slaves mixed with the native Caribs who had given them refuge on Saint Vincent Island. The Garifuna adopted the Carib language but kept their African musical and religious traditions, against the demands of the island's colonial masters. In 1795 the Garifuna people rebelled against the British; the Crown punished them for their insolence by deporting them to the island of Roatán, off Honduras. In the years that followed, the Garifuna slowly established villages on islands and along the coasts of southern Belize, Guatemala, and northern Honduras.
In the entire country of Belize (mainly in the southern most areas of the country) November 19th is a yearly celebration to commemorate
the arrival and the settlement of the first Garinagus (Black Caribs) to the southern
districts of Belize in 1832. Belizeans from all over g ather in the southern
districts of Dangriga and Toledo to celebrate with the garinagus.
The day begins with the re-enactment of the arrival of the Garinaau settlers and
continues with dancing to the local Garinagu drums and punta rock. One can enjoy
Garinagu dishes prepared mainly from vegetables grown underground and produce from
| Nov. 27 San Pedro's Township Day|
| November Stann Creek Agricultural Fair
Exhibits of livestock and locally grown fruits and vegetables.
| Dec. 25 Christmas Day |
| Dec. 26 Boxing Day
Parties, dances , horse races and some Garifuna dances are performed.
Public and Bank Holidays, 2017
Monday, January 2nd: New Year’s Day (in lieu of Sunday, 1st January)
Monday, March 6th: National Heroes and Benefactors Day (in lieu of Thursday, 9th March)
Friday. April 14th Good Friday
Saturday, April 15th: Holy Saturday
Monday, April 17th: Easter Monday
Friday, May 1st: Labour Day
Monday, May 22nd: Sovereign’s Day/Commonwealth Day (in lieu of Wednesday, 24th May)
Monday, September 11th: St. George’s Caye Day (in lieu of Sunday, 10th September)
Thursday, September 21st: Independence Day
Monday, October 9th: Pan American Day (in lieu of Thursday, 12th October)
Monday, November 20th: Garifuna Settlement Day (in lieu of Sunday, 19th November)
Monday, December 25th: Christmas Day
Tuesday, December 26th: Boxing Day
Public and Bank Holidays, 2016
Friday, January 1st: New Year’s Day
Monday, March 7th: National Heroes and Benefactors Day (in lieu of Wednesday, 9th March)
Friday, March 25th Good Friday
Saturday, March 26th: Holy Saturday
Monday, March 28th: Easter Monday
Monday, May 2nd: Labour Day (in lieu of Sunday, 1st May)
Monday, May 23rd: Sovereign’s Day/Commonwealth Day (in lieu of Tuesday, 24th May)
Saturday, September 10th: St. George’s Caye Day
Wednesday, September 21st: Independence Day
Monday, October 10th: Pan American Day (in lieu of Wednesday, 12th October)
Saturday, November 19th: Garifuna Settlement Day
Monday, December 26th: Christmas Day (in lieu of Sunday, 25th December)
Tuesday, December 27th: Boxing Day (in lieu of Monday, 26th December)
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 participated Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 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. The festival 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, Queen of the Mayan Costa 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, Meringue, Cumbia, and traditional Mayan music. Cultural presentations are usually presented in the form or theatrical dances. These dances tell of the Mayan culture, traditions and rich heritage.
Organized by a non-profit committee to promotes 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. Click here to view highlights from all the festivals.
San Pedro Town is one of the very last places in the country of Belize that observes Carnaval. San Pedros Carnaval is similar to New Orleans Mardi Gras (in meaning, not size). Carnaval is observed during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season. Carnival is a pagan celebration during which time people can indulge in bodily pleasures that they will soon 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.
Click here for a story and photos in the San Pedro Sun....
San Pedro Day
San Pedro Day (Dia De San Pedro or The Day of St Peter) 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. It has been celebrated on Ambergris Caye beginning during the early years and the decades when fishing was the primary industry and San Pedro was still a tiny village.
Nine days of piety and a nine step altar. The statue of St Peter would move up a step each night at one of the novenas…or services held at a local families house. The novenas or nine days devoted to the saint would end with the bishop coming from Belize City to be met by decorated local boats and docks. He would confirm local children readied for their confirmation, perform a blessing of a parade of the fishing boats (sometimes with holy water in a water pistol!) and then a feast and festival.Back in the days before restaurants, bars and nightclubs, this sort of party was hugely anticipated. Dance contests, a huge band, food, a giant party.
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.
The settlers who came from Mexico brought with them their Spanish Language, Catholic and Mexican traditions and a rich culture. The official language of Belize is English and most islanders speak and understand English but the main language is still Spanish. The Mayan that some of the present settlers' ancestors once spoke in no longer spoken.
Islanders also speak Creole; a language or dialect derived from the English language. Due to the influence of Mayan, Creole and English languages most of the islanders speak today what is known as "kitchen Spanish" - informal Spanish that incorporates English, Mayan and Creole words. An example is "pullar". The word comes from the English root "pull" and adds a Spanish suffix "ar". The English definition is "pull".
The Mexican settlers also brought with them a distinctly rich culture with traditions comprised of Spanish, Mayan and Catholic elements. Many of these traditions are still followed today. Some such of these is the observance of religious feast days and regulations such as the Lenten Season, an important aspect of Catholicism; regular attendance at Church especially at Easter and Christmas and the celebration of Sacraments. Easter Procession and Novenas (prayers) are spectacular annual events and have the participation of almost the entire local population of San Pedro Town.
Another common tradition that continues today is that of naming children and places after Catholic patrons and Saints. Most of the new settlements and developments are named after Saints: e.g. San Pedro - Saint Peter.
One of Ambergris Cayes most loved and spectacular events is the Quinceanos celebration. This celebration is Mexican in origin and is basically a "coming out" party for a young girl who turns fifteen. Similar to that of a sweet-sixteen party the origin of the Quinceanos was to announce to the community that the young girl was of a marriageable age and informed prospective husbands that the girl was available.
Although Quinceanos celebrations are still carried out today girls at fifteen are no longer advertised as fit to wed, instead, the meaning symbolizes the girls passage from childhood to adulthood. She is dressed in a magnificent gown usually white and similar to a wedding gown. She has an escort and several maids with their escorts are followed by her friends and family to the town's Catholic Church. At the Church a special mass is held and a ring is blessed by the presiding priest and presented to the girl.
Other traditions involving courtships and marriages have also changed over the years. In the past a young man interested in courting and possible marrying a young woman had to comply with certain rules. He had to ask for permission from the girls parents to visit her at her home in the presence of all family members. The visits lasted no more than a few hours. If a girl attended a dance she had to be escorted by her parents. This has changed considerably and most young men and women intent on marriage have the freedom to conduct their courtship for the most part without the interference of parents or guardians.