Thanks to its delightful weather, beautiful unspoiled nature, and amazing adventure destinations, it’s always a good time to visit Belize. But September is truly something special in this small Central American country as the locals celebrate their young nation’s history with parades, street dancing, and plenty of music, food, and fun for the whole family.

In the 1970s, Belize was a largely unknown colony home to villagers and farmers who fished and grew food much as their ancestors had done for centuries. Since gaining independence in 1981, Belize has become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to explore the picture-postcard beauty of the Belize Barrier Reef and its hundreds of islands (known as “cayes” locally), the lush jungles and rainforests, the gorgeous beaches along the Caribbean coast, and the dozens of Mayan cities  left behind by the ancient Maya.

While the rest of the year sees plenty of festivals, beauty pageants, and activities designed to appeal to tourists, September is the month where Belizean locals take time off from work to celebrate all of the many benefits of running their own peaceful, democratic, and multicultural nation.

When you’re in Belize during September, don’t miss:

Belize Expo

This two-day marketplace draws tens of thousands of visitors who can shop the halls of the Expo to buy food, furniture, artwork, clothing, and a host of products all made in Belize by Belizeans. The Expo is an ideal place to sample the wide range of different cultural influences that have made Belizean food so delicious.

Battle of St. George’s Caye Day – September 10

September 10 is the official commemoration of the British navy’s vanquishing of a Spanish armada in 1798 off of St. George’s Caye (just eight miles from Belize City) that settled the question of European dominance in the area once and for all. Today, the day is commemorated as the unofficial start to the patriotic season with a re-enactment of the naval battle, parades, and an explosion of red, white, and blue in every town and village across the country.

Independence Day – September 21

The day dawns with every radio station playing patriotic, local music and continues until the small hours of the morning with dancing, singing, eating, drinking, parades, games, speeches, and poems as every citizen of Belize gives voice to their patriotic pride.

Carnival and J’ouvert

Jouvert begins at 4:00 AM sharp on the first morning of Carnival. Look for thousands of people marching through the streets of Belize City engaged in a riotous pretend battle involving chocolate, paint, and mud.

Carnival officially begins at 1:00 PM with street parades, live music, and groups of people wearing fancy costumes competing to be crowned King and Queen of Carnival.