August is not boring on Ambergris Caye. The San Pedro Town Board puts on an international cultural and music show when other parts of Belize are in the summer doldrums. The Costa Maya Festival is a week-long celebration that brings musical groups, artists and beauty queens from the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. According to the organizing committee’s website, ” It is a four day event which starts on the first Thursday of August with the selection of Miss Costa Maya International followed with the grand opening on Friday, which is attended by government officials, ambassadors, and other dignitaries. Saturday is known as Noche Internacional and it is the biggest evening of the festival when the international star takes center stage. On Sunday the final day of the festival more cultural shows, comedians and music close the event.”
Launched in 1991 by the Ambergris Caye chapter of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the Sea and Air Festival, the event has been fine tuned. This started with a name change to the current Costa Maya Festival as the “air” portion did not really work out. The participation of neighboring countries to send their beauty queens and cultural groups, and hosting an international music band or singer was the clincher. Beauty queens and musical groups are not in high demand during the summer in their home countries. The artists are usually but not always, current pop stars in the Latino world. Artists that have taken part in the festival include ‘Los Ilegales’ from the Dominican Republic, The Kumbia Kings, Pablo Montero, and Ricardo Montaner.
The festival includes lobster cookouts, beach volleyball, mechanical rides, football marathons, a big all night fair, the International Costa Maya Beauty Pageant, and capped off by a dance with regioal-class music groups.
Held at the old football field every night, visitors can enjoy world-class events in one place. There are folklore, ballet and modern dance groups, accompanied by star musical bands and singers.
The last night usually features an international film star or recording artist along with an all-night dance. For beer lovers tired of the same old Belizean beer produced by the local monopoly brewery it is a major attraction.
It’s a great respite as excellent Mexican beer is available along with the cuisine of the neighboring countries.
The festival is held every in August, launches on the Tuesday of the designated week and ends on Sunday. Each participating country group is assigned a night on which their culture and talent is displayed with Sunday being the grand finale. The current current schedule of events can be found at the Belize Costa Maya Festival website.