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Belize It Or Not: Top Events in Belize for 2011 – Highlights of Special Events, Celebrations, Races, Festivals for the New Year

4 January 2011 No Comment

Belize City, Belize – January, 2011 – Travelers planning a trip to Belize in 2011 are in store for an un-Belize-able experience with a line-up of unique adventure, cultural and culinary celebrations sure to transform any trip into a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. With an array of special events scheduled throughout the year, families, couples and groups alike can pair their getaway with an authentic Belizean festivity that’s rooted in local customs, history, cultural traditions and of course fun! While Belize’s official vacation destination site, TravelBelize.org, features a full roster for 2011, below are highlights of the top 10 events scheduled for the New Year:

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge – Head to Central Belize on March 5 for the annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, a four-day canoe race that attracts a range of contestants, including families, beginners and professional racers. Set along the scenic backdrop of the Maya Mountains, the 175-mile challenge starts in San Ignacio and ends in Belize City, running east along the Belize Old River. With overnight stops along the way, participants can experience the beauties of Belize by both land and water. Promoting well-being, endurance, nutrition and health, the challenge coincides with Baron Bliss Day holiday celebrations, held in honor of Belize’s great benefactor, Henry Edward Victor Bliss. (Cayo District – March 5-8, 2011; www.larutamayabelize.com/main)

Maya Day – Belizeans have already begun Maya 2012 celebrations for when the world starts anew, and travelers can get a jump start on festivities in March with Maya Day. Held in Blue Creek Village in honor of Mayans’ rich history and presence in Belize, Maya Day is an exciting culmination to a weeklong celebration filled with games, dancing, music and competitions unique to the Maya culture. Traditions include the Fire Ball Game where men use clubs to hit a flaming ball down a field to score goals. Or, the ceremonial Torch Run where runners travel to the Lubaantun Mayan site with a torch signifying the “light of the world” in praise of life, Mother Earth and well being. (Toledo District – March 2011; www.tumulkinbelize.org)

2011 San Pedro Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge – Adventure travelers can race for a cause with the 42-mile San Pedro Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge. The two-day kayak race, which attracts dozens of participants from across the country, was designed to promote awareness, protection and the conservation of mangroves, lagoons, reefs and the diverse species found in Belize. The race starts on the stunning lagoon side of Ambergris Caye and finishes the next day in San Pedro where a celebration awaits participants, including everything from bar-be-que and ceviche competitions to live music. (Ambergris Caye, Belize – April 2011; www.travelbelize.org)

Toledo Cacao Festival 2011 – Chocolate lovers can visit the motherland where chocolate is believed to have originated, and indulge in rich sweets and savory wines at the annual Toledo Cacao Festival. The rich scent of chocolate and full-bodied wine fills the air as travelers lose themselves in authentic sounds of local Belizean music. Offering a bit of education with this sweet treat, travelers can tour sun-filled cacao orchids with wine in-hand, and learn the delicate art of chocolate making the traditional and factory-produced way. (Toledo District – May 23 – 25, 2001; www.toledochocolate.com)

Monkey River Festival – Head to Monkey River Village in Toledo District for Belize’s leading Creole festival where a complete line-up of local cuisine, live music and entertainment await travelers. Popular traditional games and attractions for children and adults include watermelon eating, tug-of-war, sack races, and lime and spoon races where children must balance a lime on a spoon when making a mad dash to the finish line. The festival also revives an old Monkey River Village tradition of Jankunu stick, a popular stick walking challenge inviting Jankunu dancers to show off their best skills. (Toledo Distirct, Belize – May 24- 25, 2011; www.travelbelize.org)

10th Annual Taste Of Belize – Calling all foodies! The 10th Annual Taste of Belize is the country’s signature culinary event where attendees can immerse themselves in authentic Belizean food from across the country in one setting. With Belize being a melting pot of more than 10 diverse cultures – including Maya, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Arab, Chinese – travelers can taste the distinctive flavors of each heritage while trying an array of indigenous dishes. Top chefs and bartenders from across the country head to Belize City to participate in this national event for top prizes in various culinary categories, including professional chefs, cake decorating and more. (Belize District – October 2011; www.tasteofbelize.com)

30th Year Anniversary of Belize – Join Belizeans’ annual independence celebration and honor the day when Belize gained its sovereignty from Britain. This year’s grand 30th anniversary in Belmopan will feature a national fiesta complete with representation from Belize’s diverse cultures. As a highlight of festivities in store for the celebration, guests can attend a variety of traditional sporting events; children will take to the streets for a lively parade; and a traditional flag-raising ceremony will depict when Belize first raised its flag as an independent country. (Belize District – September 2011; www.travelbelize.org)

Garifuna Settlement Day – For an unparalleled cultural experience, Garifuna Settlement Day is an annual celebration that enlivens the entire southern region in remembrance of the arrival of Garifuna people to Belize in 1832. Held each year on November 19, the celebration commences in Punta Gorda with a symbolic reenactment ceremony (Yurumein) of the original landing with a boat arriving to the shores around 5 or 6 a.m., and hundreds of spectators anxiously awaiting on land. Vibrant festivities throughout the day include Garifuna music and dance, traditional fare, a parade throughout the city streets, a church service and more. The theme for this year’s 2011 Garifuna Settlement Day, is “Our aspirations are many; in unity we advance.” (Toledo District – November 19, 2011; www.travelbelize.org)

Battle of the Drums – Dance to the pulsating beats and rhythms of Garifuna drumming during the annual Battle of the Drums event in southern Belize. The authentic traditions and customs of the Garifuna people are celebrated and honored at this event, which attracts the country’s best drummers to compete in five different categories of Garifuna drumming. The event, which has grown to attract drummers from Guatemala and Honduras in the past, features authentic Garifuna cuisine and attracts both in-country and international travelers. Held in conjunction with celebrations for Settlement Day, the event takes place on the Saturday immediately following November 19. (Toledo District – November 2011; www.battleofthedrums.org)

Holiday Boat Lighting Parade – Families looking to escape the winter chill but not the festive season can head to San Pedro for the annual Holiday Boat Lighting Parade. Attracting dozens of participants from throughout the area, boat owners spend weeks decorating their vessels and then showcase their holiday display while traveling along the Caribbean Sea for the public vote on their top pick. Winners take home prizes for the best boat depicting a religious theme and the best overall decorated boat. (San Pedro – December 2011; www.travelbelize.org)

About Belize

As one of the last unspoiled places on earth, Belize offers travelers the richly rewarding authenticity they seek in a Caribbean getaway. With direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, this tropical paradise is nestled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the country’s unique charms. Belize offers a land rich in natural beauty and steep in the history and culture of its Maya past. Renowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize’s pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush unspoiled landscapes and superb diving truly make it Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret.

For more information on how you can be one with Belize, visitwww.travelbelize.org


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