Lobsters & chocolate! Five quirky festivals across Central America

Central America’s annual festivals reflect ancient traditions while embracing new, modern customs, often resulting in people enjoying time in some unusual places. Here is a taster from visitcentroamerica.com of some of the top festival/foodie destinations across Central American.

Tasting time at the Chocolate Festival
Tasting time at the Chocolate Festival

Feria de la Mascarada, COSTA RICA. March 28 – 31, 2016

The “Feria de la Mascarada”, a traditional festival with roots in the colonial era, is celebrated by the people of Barva, a small town north of the capital city San Jose. For four days locals and travellers don huge colourful masks of devils, celebrities and political figures, parade the streets and dance in the squares. Buses run regularly from the bus terminal in the centre of San Jose to Barva. Travel time is approximately 40 minutes and the price of a one-way ticket starts from £1.00. www.visitcostarica.com

Cocoa beans, chocolate covered bananas to try
Cocoa beans, chocolate covered bananas to try

Chocolate Festival, BELIZE. May 20 – 22, 2016

Every year, Punta Gorda in the district of Toledo, southern Belize enjoys a festival that celebrates one of the Mayans most delicious legacies: chocolate. Chocolate lovers travel to the festival to discover what is new in the world of chocolate making, whilst tasting some of the best chocolate products available on the market. This year will be the ninth edition of this three day feast which will be inaugurated with a wine and chocolate tasting on the first evening, followed by a Taste of Toledo street fair featuring cultural displays, music and chocolate tasting. The last day of the festival is traditionally held on the Sunday with live performances from Mayan harp groups, Garifuna drumming and Mayan dances complete with a range of drinks made from cacao. Maya Island Air flies directly to Punta Gorda from Belize City Municipal Airport. Flight time is approximately one hour and twenty minutes and return flights are priced from £180. www.chocolatefestivalofbelize.com

Local crafts for sale at the Chocolate Festival
Local crafts for sale at the Chocolate Festival

San Pedro Lobster Fest, BELIZE. June 15, 2016

Locals in four parts of Belize celebrate the start of the lobster season with the annual Lobster Fest, the biggest gastronomic event of the country’s year.
The biggest and most popular Lobster Festival is held in the town of San Pedro on the Island of Ambergris and consists of a whole week of outdoor food stalls offering lobster cooked in every way possible: grilled, ceviche, kebabs and even chowder. Many restaurants and bars offer free live music and discounted prices on drinks and food throughout the week.
Tropic Air flies directly to San Pedro from Belize City Municipal Airport with a flight time of 20 minutes and return flights priced from £67. www.travelbelize.org

International Festival of the Mayan Coast, BELIZE. July 4 – 6, 2016

The International Festival of the Mayan Coast is the biggest annual holiday in Belize that celebrates the unification of Mayan countries across Central America with Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador all taking part in the festivities hosted in the town of San Pedro on the Island of Ambergris. Over three days dancers, performers and musical entertainers line the streets of the city while festival goers can enjoy daily fiestas, music ranging from reggae to merengue and salsa, parades, food stalls loaded with traditional cuisine and a fantastic atmosphere. Tropic Air flies directly to San Pedro from Belize City Municipal Airport with a flight time of 20 minutes and return flights priced from £67. www.internationalcostamayafestival.com

Mejorana Festival, Guarare, PANAMA. September 2016

The national Mejorana Festival celebrated in the city of Guarare in the Los Santos Province in Panama is the country’s most important folkloric event, which annually remembers the Spanish culture which is present in Central America. The festival was named after a musical instrument called the mejorana – the most prominent and authentic musical instrument of the region. The festival includes a series of musical presentations, competitions, folkloric dances, traditional singing, bull fights, all aimed towards promoting Panama’s traditions and culture. A regular bus travels from Panama City to Guarare with a travel time of approximately four hours and priced from £4.00 for a one way ticket. www.visitpanama.com

For more information:  www.visitcentroamerica.com

Sunset journey into the Costa Rican rainforest and the cocoa bean estates
Sunset journey into the Costa Rican rainforest and the cocoa bean estates
Bruce McMichael

I am freelance journalist and published author focusing on food and drink; business startups and enterprise; culture and travel. I have also written about the global upstream oil and gas industry, shipping and current affairs. Based in London, I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur.

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