The “Battle of the Drums” has been an annual event within Belize since it began in 2006. This cultural highlight has groups competing to best represent five different categories of Garifuna-style drumming; a form of performance that mixes the musical flow of the Caribbean with traditional African instruments.
The first Battle of the Drums occurred in Punta Gorda Town on November 17, 2006 and was well-regarded by Belizeans and visitors. 2007’s Battle drew an even larger audience and “drummed up” even more interest. Since 2008, the event has changed to an international competition for drummers, featuring troupes from Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
As one might expect, the Battle’s lengthy presence has made it a major attraction within Punta Gorda, attracting interested parties with money to move the economy. The event occurs on whichever Saturday comes before the national holiday of Garifuna Settlement Day (November 19th). 2018’s winner was Ecumenical Junior College, hailing from Dangriga.
All of the money directly spent on the Battle, such as the $20 ticket price, goes toward funding Garifuna cultural projects within Punta Gorda and other Garifuna communities. These projects include summer camps for children age 5-13, programs to teach the Garifuna language and drums in primary schools, a Garifuna translation contest and so on.
On Garifuna Music and Drumming
The music of the Garifuna people is incredibly energetic and the drums used in such performances are made of hardwood and shrouded in animal hides. Drumming has been a part of the Garifuna identity since before they arrived in Belize and continues to be taught to this day.
For those visitors who still want to rock out and jam on after the Battle concludes, the Belize Garifuna Musical Festival is scheduled to begins bright and early on the day after the Battle. Because Garifuna music covers more than just drums, anyone visiting this follow-up festival will have a chance to experience genres like gunjei, hungu hungu, paranda, punta and even the punta rock subgenre.
If you happen to be a music lover or are otherwise planning to visit Belize when the Battle is going on, you will need a place to stay and recover from being so amped up with energy from the performances. To this end, we suggest Chabil Mar, a top-tier resort located within Placencia Village and which is very close to Punta Gorda.
For more information about Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our Reservations Manager at: email@example.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.