Where to spend Christmas in Central America

Discover Christmas in Central America. It's perfect for December adventures, festive traditions and winter sun. Take a look at where to go from Mexico to Belize.
Mexican Nativity scene. Photo: Shutterstock
Mexican Nativity scene. Photo: Shutterstock
Discover Christmas in Central America. It's perfect for December adventures, festive traditions and winter sun. Take a look at where to go from Mexico to Belize.

1. Mexico: family Christmas in Central America

For an unforgettable Christmas, head to Mexico. Here celebrations run from12 December to 6 January and hospitality is the theme. On Christmas Eve families concentrate on making their homes welcoming to reflect the innkeeper's kindness to Mary and Joseph on the original Christmas Eve. 

Christmas Day tends to be more of a community event. And on 28 December, Mexico observes the Day of the Holy Innocents which marks Herod's slaughter of new born boys. Just don't expect sombre. Instead the mood's playful, people play practical jokes and it's often compared to April Fools Day in the UK.

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2. Costa Rica: for fantastic weather

Visit Costa Rica at Christmas because the weather's fantastic and the festive season falls during the country's long school holidays. Although Costa Ricans tend to reject traditional Christmas trees, they do like nativities, and it's the custom for families to create these together. 

Almost everyone attends midnight mass on Christmas Eve before sitting down to their main festive meal. The most common dish is chicken and pork steamed in a wrapper of plantain leaves and, as apples are in season in December, expect them in the festive feast too. 

If you feel like some Costa Rica sun and Pura Vida to go with your festivities at Christmas, think about staying at charming Les Voiles Blanches in Tamarindo. 

3. Guatemala: for a grand show

Guatemala celebrates in many similar ways to Mexico and Costa Rica. Here the Christmas nativity is also a centrepiece in homes, but Guatemalans add an original twist by weaving less traditional coloured sawdust into their creations.   

The main festive meals and celebrations are also on Christmas Eve here, but again with a twist. At the stroke of midnight, Guatemalans set off fireworks to celebrate the birth of Christ. Then, after a prayer round the Christmas tree, it's time for presents. 

If you want to avoid the tourist trail, try Guatemala and Belize at Christmas.

4. Nicaragua: for an extended holiday 

In Nicaragua Christmas starts early. Celebrations begin in earnest on 6 December when songs are sung in honour of the Virgin Mary. Then, from 16 December, there are nightly prayers in every home followed by carol singing. And much like Mexico, Nicaragua is big on celebrating hospitality. 

Christmas dinner is on Christmas Eve and it's a Spanish influenced feast with traditions like stuffed chicken or paella. And with the main celebrations over, 25 December is a normal day like any other, which makes it perfect for a walking tour of León

Christmas in Central America, San Pedro, Belize. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Belize: for remote islands

To really get away from it all, choose Belize at Christmas. The country's secluded, tropical islands which sit just off the coast, are ideal escapes. Most have white sand beaches, many are undeveloped or tourist-free and Ambergris Caye is by far the most popular. 

If you feel like diving at Christmas, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world. Naturally, spectacular dive sites are a given and don't miss the legendary Blue Hole. Tempted to island hop in Belize? Stay at Colinda Cabanas on Caye Caulker.

Ready to take a trip to Central America?

Our local experts can plan incredible trips to Central America for you. To get started, simply get in touch letting us know your ideas for the trip and when you want to travel. We will then create a personalised itinerary which you can amend to your own specifications. Browse existing itineraries for inspiration. All our itineraries can be fully tailored to suit your needs.