Belize’s Chocolate Festival
Come celebrate with us in southern Belize, indulge in chocolate at the Chocolate Festival of Belize!
The art of chocolate making dates back to the ancient Maya civilization – a tradition that has been passed on for generations. Today Belize’s southernmost district Toledo is where the finest chocolatiers are born. Every year hundreds around the world travel to tranquil Punta Gorda to taste an array of chocolate products at the annual Chocolate Festival of Belize.
The chocolate festival celebrates the variety of chocolate products, farm tours, culture and nature within the district. The two-day event has tremendous positive cultural, economic, and environmental impacts for the entire Toledo district.
Chocolate is one of the top most desirable flavors in the world, but do you know where chocolate comes from? Exquisite chocolate comes from cacao trees! Belize is within the cacao trees’ native range – the deep tropical regions of the Americas. Cacao trees take 3-5 years, with careful attention, to produce fruits. Farmers growing organic cacao in Belize ensure that the cacao trees are cultivated in healthy soils, trees are pruned regularly, and trees receive a balance of natural shade and sunlight.
A young cacao tree bearing fruits. | Photo by: Maximiliano Caal
Within the Maya Golden Landscape in southern Belize, award winning non-profit organization Ya’axché Conservation Trust is working with farmers to adopt more sustainable, climate-smart farming practices such as cacao-based agroforestry. Cacao-based agroforestry diversifies the food and income of farmers and their families while helping to protect forest landscapes. In addition, Ya’axché has verified via field cameras that wildlife are moving through cacao agroforestry farms – a major research finding.
A massive project led by Ya’axché and a farmer group are legally growing cacao trees in a protected area, within Belize’s first agroforestry concession. Like in other areas the non-profit organization works, Ya’axché has been providing technical, field and material support to the 31 members of the Trio Farmers Cacao Growers. Over 240 acres have been planted with cacao trees; and so far, recent data on the first harvest indicates that the more mature trees yielded 10,000 pounds of wet cacao beans. In addition to selling the cacao beans to an exporting company, some of the cacao beans are supplied to local chocolatiers in Belize.
Cacao farmer Daniel Chiquin harvesting cacao pods. | Photo by: Maximiliano Caal
Cacao farms are bringing more value to farmers through cacao farm tours. EcoTourism Belize, a social business of Ya’axché, affords you the opportunity to interact with cacao farmers and to see how organic cacao and other food crops are produced hand in hand with nature. You will get to harvest cacao and make your own chocolate drink and snack from scratch.
Cacao farmers are working arduously to produce high quality organic cacao beans for chocolatiers to craft that delicious chocolate you can savor at the Chocolate Festival of Belize. This year, 2019, the festivities will kick-off with Wine and Chocolate night on Friday, 24th of May at Garbutt’s Marine & Fishing Lodge. Tickets are going for BZ $60 (US $15) per ticket. You will get to interact with chocolatiers, taste the latest chocolate products, drink fine wine, and enjoy local traditional food and drinks.
Chocolate delicacy at Belize’s chocolate festival. | Photo Courtesy: Chocolate Festival of Belize
Local chefs, artisans, artists and chocolatiers will be the focus of the Taste of Toledo Street Fair in Punta Gorda town on Saturday, 25th of May 2019. Taste the mouth-watering chocolate desserts flavored with chilli, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and coconut. You can also get your favorite cacao products such as wine, butter, vinegar, nibs, juice, chocolate bars, soaps and even the seasonal chocolate stout. There will be lots of cultural food and drinks from the Creole (Kriol), Garifuna, Maya, Mestizo, and East Indian groups. Artisans will have on full display their handmade crafts, jewelry and artwork. Live music, dances and presentations will be performed by local artists.
Belize Chocolate Festival is an event for the whole family. Join the celebration of cacao, chocolate and conservation in southern Belize.
Taste of Toledo Street Fair in downtown Punta Gorda. | Photo Courtesy: Chocolate Festival of Belize
Live music and performances at Chocolate Festival 2019. | Photo Courtesy: Chocolate Festival of Belize