Garifuna Music Showcased at Belize’s “Battle of the Drums”
There’s no music competition quite like the annual Battle of the Drums held in Punta Gorda, the capital of Belize’s southern Toledo District.
This year, the Battle of the Drums will be held on the weekend of November 17-18, 2018. Troupes from around Belize as well as nearby Guatemala and Honduras will compete in five different genres of Garifuna drumming. Garifuna drumming is a traditional music style that blends traditional African instruments with indigenous Caribbean rhythms.
Garifuna music is generally very high-energy and involves the tremendously skilled playing of handmade drums forged from local hardwoods and covered in animal skins. The Garifuna have been drumming for hundreds of years, and drumming is an integral part of their culture. The Battle of the Drums festival begins at 7:30 p.m. and will last all through the night as sweaty troupes of exhausted drummers are slowly winnowed down until the winners are declared.
And for spectators who want even more, the Belize Garifuna Musical Festival will begin on November 18, 2018, at 6:00 a.m. immediately after the Battle of the Drums has concluded. The Garifuna Music festival will showcase a wide variety of modern Garifuna musical styles, including punta rock, punta, gunjei, paranda, and hungu hungu.
The Battle of the Drums isn’t the only exhibition of Belizean culture that occurs in November. On November 19, the entire country will observe Garifuna Settlement Day that celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna in Belize more than two centuries ago. All of the big towns in the country, including Punta Gorda, will celebrate the holiday with street parades, traditional Garifuna foods, and, of course, lots of drumming.
November is an ideal time to visit Belize as the country is moving into the dry season that features long, sunny days with pleasantly warm temperatures. Daily temperatures average around 83° F (28° C) while nights are pleasantly cool at around 80° F (27° C). And unlike the United States or Canada, it never snows even at the highest elevations, making November an ideal time to explore the great outdoors and listen to live music.
If you’re interested in attending the Battle of the Drums or visiting Belize this winter, you can rely on Adventures in Belize (AIB) for all of your travel needs. AIB works with a number of lodges and resorts in Toledo District where all the exciting action of the Battle of the Drums will take place.