Easter in Belize – What to do and where to go! (2018 Update)
In this blog, we bring you the 5 standout activities everyone must have on their itinerary this weekend!
1. Religious festivities in Benque Viejo Del Carmen
Belize is traditionally a catholic country, so much so that public and bank holidays are given on Good Friday and Easter Monday. This break from the doldrums of work allows the locals to make the religious festivities all the more elaborate and nowhere is that more true than the sleepy little border town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen.
Every year for easter the residents of Benque become a buzz with the excitement of the church displays to come. Avid church goers sign up to be script actors and extras to dress up as Jesus, his disciples, Mary and the various Roman characters. Throughout town, along the route of the “Stations of the cross” procession, local residents create elaborate, colored sawdust carpet art on the roads with diverse symbolisms of the catholic faith.
The actors in the procession vividly portray the bible story of Jesus’ march with the cross and make stops in designated areas to act out different scenes taken out of the gospels until they arrive back at the Mount Carmel Parish for the depictions of the crucifixion and a tributary Mass.
The procession and re-enactments are powerful sights to behold, the local high school marching band provides appropriate background score for the actors’ passionate re-creations. The audience, and indeed the entire festival will convey the strong faith of the townspeople to any on-looker, religious or not.
2. Cross-country bicycle race
The Cross Country Cycling classic is an amateur cycling race held every year on Holy Saturday that spans from Belize City to the heart of San Ignacio town and back. The idea for the race was put forward by Monrad Metzgen (one of Belize’s national heroes) in 1928 after a trip to one of the northern villages where he was struck by the sheer amount of bicycles that the locals used to get around.
Monrad proposed that the race takes place on the-then newly cleared western highway as a test of mettle for would-be cyclists who had to pedal up the northern highway to the Boom junctions, then westward to Cayo. On April 5, 1928, at 5 am the riders set off for San Ignacio, they stayed the weekend and returned 4 days later. Elston Kerr was the first winner of the race, it took him just about 21 hours 30 minutes finish, and the race has been a Holy Saturday staple ever since.
3. Burrell Boom Horse race
As the Easter festivities wind down, Burrell Boom in the Belize district holds its annual day of races on Easter Monday at the Castleton Race Track. It’s very popular event in which Belizean jockeys ride Belizean bred horses for cash prizes and spectators from all districts and even outside the country gather to socialize and enjoy delectable Belizean dishes including all manner of traditional preparations of rare game meats and seafood.
The full day of activities features multiple edge gripping races that delight entire families. For those who enjoy horses, and children who enjoy animals in general, these magnificent beasts can be seen and (the more relaxed ones) even pet at their stables while they wait for their race or while they rest after a run. This is definitely a family-oriented outing as the entire Easter is usually geared in Belize and is a perfectky relaxing way to close off the holiday weekend.
4. Beach Parties on the islands (and Placencia)
Despite its very religious tone, Belizeans also observe another type of Easter weekend, party. The 4 day weekend is a boon for young and old party goers who revel in their time off from work or school. Belizeans flock to San Pedro, Caye Caulker, or Placencia to take in the sun and to merry the night away. The flurry of events from many bars, clubs, and restaurants make for an endless number of activity choices.
Easter weekend has sort of become a Belizean version of “Spring break”, filled with people enjoying the sun and the sea, dancing at large beach parties, and partying until sun-up in one of the many nightclubs, or bars. San Pedro has signature events like “Island Invasion” at the Fidos bar, Luna Loca is famed for their outrageous beach parties, and the Holiday Hotel is the place to be on Sunday for their large foam beach party which is usually headlined by an international DJ.
The party continues on Caye Caulker and Placencia in quite a similar fashion. Many people also head out to sea for the large array of water activities such as; sandbars, day cruises, and fishing trips happening. Whether you are in the northern cayes or down south Easter weekend in Belize is either a legendary party or an unforgettable adventure, perhaps even both.
5. Restaurant Hop for local delights
There is a traditional belief in Belize that swimming on Good Friday will turn you into a mermaid, and is also the day that one should not travel. It is a day to stay home, be reverent, and eat, but not red meat, only fish. This means, of course, that there are stacks on stacks of cultural-religious food traditions that sprung out from peoples’ creativity sparked by religious “law” from the bible.
The food traditions have translated over into restaurants who make available for everyone who’d like to try all the great dishes. Garifuna Sere soup, mestizo heart of palm stew, hot cross buns and sweet potato puddings, are just a few of the Belize-famous offers on that day. The entire weekend is chocked full of all the food you can imagine to eat, so if you’re a seafood lover or just a food lover you’re sure to turn starry-eyed any restaurant you happen upon.
Know about anything else happening in and around the country? We’d love to know! Leave your suggestions down below in the comment area! 🙂