Experience These Two Summer Events!

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on April 24, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

Need an excuse to start planning your next vacation? There are many fun events happening throughout the world – and depending on what sort of experience you are looking for, you can typically find something culturally exciting and stimulating. Below are a couple of unique happenings occurring just a short (and affordable) plane ride away from North America.  

1. San Pedro, Belize – LobsterFest  

Right in my sandy backyard is one of the most anticipated Caribbean-island events of the year: LobsterFest on Ambergris Caye!

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Even if you don’t eat lobster, this festival is one for the books. LobsterFest was started in 2007 as a celebratory gathering to kick off the reopening of lobster season in Belize. Every year from February 15 until June 15, lobsters are left to repopulate, meaning lobster makes a temporary disappearance from the restaurant menus. To many locals and expats, these four months seem like an eternity.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Photo credit: Ambergris Today.

But Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and Placencia welcome back the lobster in style with the most popular celebration occurring in San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). Evolving over the years, today the event occurs over a 10-12-day period with a festive block party on the last day. Participants in the LobsterFest are given a “passport” with each page representing the different activities and places highlighted throughout the week. The goal is to get a stamp at each of the locations. With each stamp, participants receive a raffle ticket which is then entered in a contest to win a trip to the following year’s LobsterFest.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Lobster passports!

Some event highlights include the full-lobster costumes and the delicious lobster-inspired recipes at the block party, including lobster crepes, Belikin-battered lobster, and lobster & spinach empanadas.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Photo credit: Ambergris Today.

This year, the event is June 15 – 24. Book your accommodations quickly, as rooms are often sold out well ahead of time.

2. Managua, Nicaragua – Hipicas

Unsure of what to expect, I was invited to my first Hipicas parade after only a couple of months of living in Managua, Nicaragua. I was told to dress like a cowgirl (my wardrobe was not very cowgirl-friendly, so this was a challenge) and to anticipate being outside for most of the day. Saddled up with cold beverages and sunscreen, a large group of us jumped into the back of a 4×4 and headed towards the festivities.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

The ladies!

Wow was it something! Looking down the closed-off boulevard, I saw a sea of plaid shirts, jeans, and cowboy hats buzzing around. Street vendors were wheeling their carts down the crowds, shouting out for patrons to buy their ice-cold Toñas, and in other cases their sunglasses. Stadium-tiered seating, for those who pre-purchased a ticket, lined the road. Others were looking for a shady, close location to house a few chairs. Horses lined the road, grazing grass as traditional music played from all directions with people giddily dancing along.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

A good dance and a good laugh.

This truly felt like the cowboy version of a New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Live music at the VIP celebrations.

Occurring in August (the day varies depending on the year), Hipicas, translating to “equestrian” in English, is a day-long horse and float parade dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Cowboys from small farming villages all over the country come to Managua (or wherever they decide to participate) with their horses to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. Geared towards families, this event is packed with everyone from kids who are hoping to be the recipients of candy, to grandparents who sit back and take in the show.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Toña float passing right by us!

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Toña dancers giving the audience a show.

Experience These Two Summer Events!

Life-size “doll” dancing on the street!

Only a short blurb about these two events, but hopefully you’re intrigued. Both LobsterFest and Hipicas are incredible cultural experiences that give you the opportunity to learn more about the history and livelihood of the areas. Check them out for yourself if you have a few extra days off this summer.

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on April 24, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.