This year’s series of Lobster Fests celebrated along Belize’s Caribbean coast and cayes is set to become the biggest yet, with three main festivals taking up most of the month, according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s food and beverage manager.
“The Lobster Fests have always been something people all over Belize look forward to, and as more and more travellers discovered Belize, the seasonal parties began growing from small local celebrations to major events.” Ms Bryony Fleming Bradley explained, “And this year, judging from the number of enquiries we’ve had, we’ll be seeing the fests biggest yet”, she added.
Originally held in fishing villages to celebrate the opening of lobster season in June, the lobster fests would welcome in the first catches of the season and the long awaited return of income for many of the villages’ inhabitants. Musical groups would arrive and along with conspicuous consumption of seafood and drinks there would be dances and beachside barbeques.
Today’s lobster fests are more sophisticated affairs, but still retain the island and village flavour and exuberance of the past, Ms Fleming Bradley said.
She said the three main Belize lobster festivals included Placencia, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye’s San Pedro, each one slightly different and offering a variety of different experiences.
This 2013 Lobster Fest season kicks off on Ambergris Caye with the San Pedro- Ambergris Caye Lobster Festival held during June 15 through to June 22, 2013 this year. “The San Pedro lobster festival is always a big one, as they have different events on different days right across the island, so each day is like a new party in a new location, except that you don’t need to travel far. The music is always great, and this year there will be live performances by artists such Super G and the Steel Drum Band, so it won’t be hard to dance off all of those lobster calories,” Ms Bradley Fleming said.
Nearby Caye Caulker hosts the next big lobster festival on June 28 through the 30th. “Caye Caulker is the home of ‘no shoes, no shirt, no worries’, and the Caye Caulker Lobster Festival is a more intimate, laid back island party,” Ms Fleming Bradley said. Some 20 miles from Belize City and a short water taxi ride form Ambergris Caye, tiny Caye Caulker is only five miles (8.0 km) long by one mile (1.6 km) wide with beautiful sandy beaches to accommodate the numbers who arrive every year to sample this season’s lobster and seafood catch. “It’s a small island, but a big festival with a lot of things to do,” she said.
Rounding out the trio of lobster fests is the Placencia Peninsula 2013 lobster festival, also held the weekend of 28 to 30 June. Situated in southern Belize, the traditional fishing village of Placencia sits on the end of the Placencia peninsula, a sandy white strip that until relatively recently subsisted entirely on fishing. “This is a really fun filled lobster festival,” Ms Fleming Bradley said, “Although it’s also laid back, Placencia has always been known for great fishing and as a place to have a good time. Surrounded by such pristine waters and being close to the Belize Great Barrier Reef, Placencia has always been a seafood Mecca, and they go all out for the lobster fest,” she said.
Ms Fleming Bradley said all Belize lobster festivals were family affairs appealing to a wide range of ages and interests.
“There’s always something for everyone to do. They all have children’s activities and fun events anyone can join in. There are boat rides, music and dances at night, arts and various competitions.
“And of course, there’re lobsters. Lobster breakfasts, lobster lunches, lobster dinners and snacks in between. Lobster with rice and beans is a Belize Caribbean staple, but creativity abounds at the fests and you experience something new every year.”
Ms Fleming Bradley said the recently inaugurated direct flights from Maya Flats, near Chaa Creek, to Ambergris Caye makes it easier for Chaa Creek’s guests to attend the festivals this year. “You can have breakfast in the rainforest listening to parrots and toucans and then be dining on lobster next to the sparkling Caribbean that afternoon with one short plane ride in between. That makes Lobster Fest 2013 even more attractive,” she said.