With so many fun festivals and national holidays packed into just one short month, September is one of the best times to visit Belize.
Below is the complete guide to all of the best September celebrations in Belize:
Battle of St. George’s Caye Day Festivities
In 1798, Spain and Britain contested rule over the area with a tremendous maritime battles in the waters offshore of St. George’s Caye. After a week of close-quarter fighting, the British ultimately prevailed, sealing the fate of Belize as a British colony for the next 200 years. Belize has been an independent country since 1981 but continues to celebrate the momentous battle every September 10 that led to Belize being the only nation in Central America where English is the official language.
September 21 marks the official commemoration of Belize’s independence from Great Britain with parades, street parties, and throngs of people proudly waving the red, white and blue colors of Belize’s flag. September 21 is the national holiday but Independence Day festivities begin up to two weeks earlier with the period between Battle of St. George’s Caye Day (September 10) and Independence Day being a virtually non-stop explosion of musical celebrations, parades, dancing, eating, and imbibing.
Expo Belize Market Place
More than 17,000 people are expected to attend this popular event that showcases the products and goods of Belize. Activities include dancing, singing, sampling a wide variety of local food, and plenty of shopping from booths set up by local vendors. Expo Belize Market Place will be held on September 17-18 in 2016.
Similar to events in New Orleans and throughout Latin America, Carnival is a colorful display of parades, music, dancing, and partying spectators that line the streets of Belize City. Elaborately-costumed individuals will march and dance in their efforts to be crowned the king and queen of Carnival.
This unusual festival takes place in the streets of downtown Belize City, with thousands of exuberant party-goers celebrating the opening morning of Carnival Day with a riotous mix of chocolate and paint.
Responding to the burgeoning popularity of vacationing in the Central American paradise of Belize, Southwest has announced that they will be offering non-stop service from Denver to Belize City in 2017.
More than 13,000 Denver area residents traveled to Belize last year. The new non-stop service from Denver to Belize City will begin on a trial basis with Saturday flights between March 11 and April 22, 2017. Since 2015, Southwest has been operating non-stop service to Belize City from its hub in Houston’s Hobby Airport. Should the new Denver-Belize City routes prove to be popular, Southwest has stated that it will add more service.
Thanks to its pristine landscapes and more than a third of the country set aside as protected parks or nature reserves, Belize offers visitors a chance to enjoy a truly unique eco-friendly tourism experience. With more than 180 miles of coastline on the Caribbean that are just a short distance from the Belize Barrier Reef, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that is one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet, Belize has increasingly become popular with visitors who want to explore an unspoiled marine paradise, an ideal setting for swimming, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving.
“Last year, Belize saw a huge increase in tourism numbers,” said Larry France, the marketing manager of the Chabil Mar resort in Placencia, Belize. “And now we’re starting to see the airlines respond. First, American Airlines announced that they will be offering service from London to Belize and now Southwest has announced that it will be flying non-stop from Denver. We look forward to welcoming even greater numbers of visitors to our wonderful country.”
Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort on the beautiful Placencia Peninsula on the coast of southeastern Belize. The Placencia Peninsula is one of the top visitor destinations in the country, world-renowned for its beautiful beaches and close proximity to both the Belize Barrier Reef and the Cockscomb Nature Preserve on the mainland. Chabil Mar features beachfront villas and offers guests comprehensive jungle and sea packages to all of the top destinations in the country.
Belize is famous for its beautiful beaches, pristine rainforests, ancient Maya ruins, and the hundreds of postcard-perfect tropical islands that dot the Belize Barrier Reef. But one of Belize’s best-kept secrets is its vivacious and increasingly popular music scene.
A mainland country in Central America with a distinctly Caribbean vibe, Belize is home to “brukdown” music, a Creole term that roughly translates as “broken down calypso.” Instead of the stately rhythms of classic songs like “Day-O”, brukdown has a more accelerated tempo, dance-friendly music that regularly keeps the clubs jumping until the small hours of the morning. Many local stations in Belize have made “Good Mawnin’ Belize” (see video below) the unofficial anthem of the country, played every morning to add a jolt of energy and fun into each morning.
Another genre that sprang up in the Garifuna villages and settlements in Belize is “punta” music (see video below). With roots in reggae, punta mashes together the entrancing laconic vibes of reggae with a heavy dose of African-style call and response singing. Punta (sometimes called “punta rock”) is instantly recognizable thanks to rhythm lines from handcrafted drums still made from hollowed logs, punctuated by the liberal use of maracas.
Belize’s Garifuna people are descended from a mix of indigenous Caribbean peoples and Africans. After leaving the British-controlled island of St. Vincent, the Garifuna people moved en masse to Belize in the 19th century to become one of Belize’s most iconic cultures.
Experience the Wonders of Belizean Music
The award-winning resort of Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula is just a few minutes walk from the Garifuna village of Seine Bight where all of the above styles are practiced on a daily basis. Chabil Mar is also just a short driving distance from the Garifuna village of Hopkins and the cultural and musical capital of Belize, Dangriga.
November is a great month to visit Belize as the Garifuna people celebrate their arrival in the country on November 19, Garifuna Settlement Day, a national holiday where Garifuna music, food, and culture is the occasion for a huge street party.
With a beautiful tropical garden, one of the finest restaurants in Belize on-site, and lovely beachfront villas, Chabil Mar offers unparalleled luxury and comfort on the Placencia Peninsula.
At the 2016 summer Olympic games scheduled to begin shortly in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the nation of Belize will be represented by three athletes. The Belize National Olympic Committee has announced that Brandon Jones will compete in the 200-meter race, Katy Sealy in the 100-meter hurdles and Renick James in the 90-kilogram weight class of Judo. Brandon Jones has been selected for the honor of carrying the flag for the Belize delegation at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games that start at 5:00 PM local time on August 5, 2016.
On behalf of the management and staff of Chabil Mar, we wish the Belize Olympic team much success in Rio!
While no one knows the original name of the cave, today it is called Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave from a Maya term meaning “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher”. Sometimes referred to as the Cave of the Stone Altar, ATM is a complex underground network of tunnels that lead to one of the most important historic sites ever discovered. Containing over 1,400 artifacts from the end of the Ancient Maya Empire that have lain undisturbed for more than a millennium, the ATM cave was once used by priests to conduct human sacrifices at a time of drought, warfare, and civil strife.
The entrance to ATM Cave is protected by a deep pool of cool water that visitors must traverse by swimming. Once inside, the cave opens up to a series of enormous stalactites and stalagmites. The first indication of the cave’s religious importance is a large stone altar carved from a stalactite with a stingray spine as its centerpiece, the altar or sepulcher that gave the cave system its current name. All around the altar lie potsherds, bone fragments, relics and other artifacts left behind by the Maya priests more than a thousand years ago.
Further in, towards what the Ancient Maya believed was the sacred nexus where the underworld of the gods connected to the world of men, lie the bones of the Crystal Maiden. This sacrificial victim, estimated to be a young adult in their 20s, has, over time, bonded with the minerals in the cave to acquire a glittery sheen. Nearby lie the remains of seven adult sacrificial victims as well as those of five children all under the age of 5. Thousands of fragmented pots and vessels are scattered near the bones, including some largely-intact pots and bowls that archeologists believe once held food offerings to appease the gods. Other artifacts include the obsidian blades that are believed to have been used in the solemn but gruesome human sacrifices conducted by Maya priests.
Archeologists have estimated that the ATM cave first became a site used by the Maya for religious purposes nearly 2,000 years ago. The most recent remains are dated to the Terminal-Classic Period (roughly 800 to 1000 AD), a time when the Maya heartland was suffering from severe drought and civil wars. Forgotten for more than a thousand years, the ATM cave was rediscovered in 1989 by local archeologists.
Due to the fragile nature of the artifacts within, only guides authorized by the Department of Archeology can access the ATM Cave. At Chabil Mar, we offer guests guided tours of this unique historical site in Belize. Our concierge would be very pleased to make those arrangements for a visit there for you.