5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras: the colourful winter carnival celebrated in cities all across the world. Bringing in huge crowds, delicious feasts, parades, parties and more. Here are the 5 of the greatest countries to celebrate Mardi Gras:

Goa, India

The Goa Carnival showcases the free, harmonious spirit that makes this Portuguese carnival so legendary. Beautiful floats covered in flowers and graceful dancers manoeuvre their way through the streets of Panjim to traditional the folk songs and strumming of guitars.

Mindelo, Cape Verde

Just off the coast of Senegal, the lush Cape Verde islands host a curious mix of Carnival traditions in the run-up to the fast. In the handsome town of Mindelo, jerry-built floats and curvy dancers sway to Creole coladeira punctuated by ululating African shrieks.

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras by the pristine, exotic beaches of the Caribbean then Trinidad & Tobago is for you. Follow the sounds of the steel pan band as they lead the newly crowned Carnival King and Queen, dressed in dramatic, embellished costumes. The crowds that follow these parades are notoriously passionate, so much so that it can be hard to see where the performers stop and the crowd begin; so dress up, dance and join the party. Brace yourself for all-night parties and raucous steel-pan music. Two days before Ash Wednesday, paint, oil, and melted chocolate fly during the mas (masquerade) parades.

Rio de Janeiro

Arguably one of the most famous pre-Lent celebrations, the Rio Carnival draws millions of people to the city for one big samba party. Thousands of performers dance on decorated floats and compete in one of seven divisions for their choice of music, costume and themes. With dancers training all year for the festivities, you know they mean business and that it’ll be the show of a lifetime.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Beginning with a masked ball on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, celebrations build to fever pitch during five days of pre-Lenten parties.

Embrace the chaos and be seduced by the spirit of Carnival. Enjoy lavish parades, masquerade balls and the unforgettable atmosphere of Mardi Gras. It’s said that the first parade float was created by a society of wealthy men called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. From this day, different secret societies, or ‘Krewes’, join the party with their own floats, colours and costumes. One to look out for is the Krewe of Rex, who wear traditional gold, purple and green colours. Newer Krewes like Bacchus, Endymion and Zulu opt for glitz with celebrity appearances, marching bands and more than 1,000 riders.

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6 Romantic Destinations to take your loved one this Valentines

For that someone special

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to spoil their their significant other? Maybe your looking for an excuse to take your loved one on the holiday of their dreams? Or maybe, as a nice gesture, you just want to be able to spend some time with the person you love. If so, why not treat your other half to a trip out to one of these 6 romantic destinations to this Valentines Day.


6. Sānyà, China

Diverse in it’s culture, ethics, religion, architecture and cuisine, China offers some of the most amazing and romantic scenery in the world.

Sānyà offers 40 kilometres of pristine coastline partnered with a bustling city centre next to a long stretch of beaches and hotels. Being situated in the Hainan Province gives Sānyà the tropical monsoon climate it’s known for. Sanya is a noted tourist resort with incredible scenery. Mountains, rivers, beaches and the best seaview in the country, this is a place to spoil your loved one.

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5. Hawaii

If you are a couple that like exploring somewhere new together, Hawaii may be the place for you! Described as a ‘place like no other on earth’, the white sandy beaches, colossal mountain ranges and beautiful nature reserves make Hawaii the incredible place that it is.

There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island each with its own distinct personality.

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4. India

India may not be the first place you think of when it comes to romance, but India is a place deep with culture and heritage that is guaranteed to move you and your partner.

Goa, Andaman, Agra are all destinations (amongst others) that are great to visit for celebrations! Find a somewhere to join the party or spend quiet romantic time with your lover, this place will cater to all your needs.

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3. New York City

Share a kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. The breathtaking views over the city that never sleeps makes this spot for ideal for a romantic date. But if you’re looking to take it one step further, splash out and spoil your significant other by taking them on a helicopter tour of the city!

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If you both prefer a more relaxed approach to spending Valentines Day, you should look into exploring the many art museums and galleries dotted around NYC.

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A valentines trip to New York City would not be complete without a lazy walk around Central Park – But don’t forget to wrap up warm as you may only experience highs of 4°C. So, if the being out in the cold isn’t your thing, you can check out some of the botanical gardens that New York has to offer.

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If you’re ready to brave the outdoors, then why not try out one of the most romantic wintertime traditions in the city – ice skating! Watch the ice-skaters at the Rockefeller Center rink, or tie on a pair of skates yourself.

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2. Venice

A romantic trip to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a Gondola ride through the city. This is a great way to get around and to take in the landscape.

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Enjoy the ballet or opera the Theatre La Fenice one of “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”.

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If you happen to find yourself in St Mark’s Square, head over to the Campanile bell tower which is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable symbols of Venice. At the top, you can enjoy spectacular views across the canals and roofs of the city. It’s open until the sunsets throughout the year, making for a very romantic evening with your significant other.

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1. Paris

Commonly known as the city of love. Paris has to be one the most romantic cities in the world. The world famous love lock bridge can be found in Paris, close to the Notre-Dame. Here, lovers from all over the world attached a lock engraved with a special message to the bridge.

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On an island in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city, you can find the “Temple of Love”. A less well-known landmark in Paris, visiting the Temple of Love (also known as the Temple Romantique) means you won’t be sharing your romantic moment with dozens of other couples trying to do the same.

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Take a stroll down the River Siene admiring the boutique houseboats as you go. Below street level of the Quai des Tuileries, you will be able to find peace and comfort away from the crowds of people.

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Take in the view of the Eiffel Tower. A popular place for marriage proposals, the sweeping panoramic views of the city make it so perfectly romantic. But if you really want to go all out, make sure you take your loved one to view the Eiffel Tower at night. The 324m Parisian icon lights up the nights sky with a sparkly light show that will leave you lost for words.

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Find out your visa requirements on: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk

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Frequently Asked Questions

*It is important to note that there are many different contributing factors that can lead to the visa being granted. These factors may vary depending on the visitors nationality, country they are travelling to and type of visa they require (e.g. business, tourist, media, student visa…)

Invitation Letters

An Invitation Letter is a document used to show the reason for the visitor travelling to that particular country. It should be addressed to the consulate (or embassy) of the country you are travelling to. An invitation letter does not guarantee that the visitor will be issued a visa, but it does however help the Visa Officers assess whether you abide by the countries immigration laws.

It would be preferable to type and print your invitation letter but handwritten invitations may be accepted by some embassies. The invitation letter must be on the headed paper of the inviting company and must at least include:

  • The relationship between the visitor and the inviter
  • Relevant dates of travel & length of stay (arrival dates / departure dates)
  • Passport information (given names, passport number, nationality, issue & expiry date, DOB)
  • Purpose of travel
  • Who will be funding the visit
  • Signature of the inviter

Some countries may require further details or for the letter to be officially stamped by the inviting company/organisation.

Working on a tourist visa

Working on a tourist visa is prohibited, even when volunteering.

If you are travelling abroad to work, you will need to apply for a work permit/visa. This grants you permission to work in the country.

However, some countries only offer travellers the option to apply for a tourist visa. In these cases you will have to travel on a tourist visa, once there, you (or your perspective employer) can then apply for the relevant visa/permit allowing you to work.

Business visa or work permit?

If you are being employed by a company in a foreign country and they are paying you to work in that country, then you will need to apply for a work permit.

If you are travelling to attend a business meeting/conference or consult with business associates, you will need a business visa.

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa is not required for British passport holders – All Schengen zone member countries do not require a visa to enter the Schengen zone along with 43 other countries – contact The Travel Visa Company for further information regarding the countries exempt from requiring a Schengen visa. Once obtained, a Schengen visa allows the visitor to travel between 26 different countries that are part of the Schengen area (also known as the Schengen zone).

When applying for a Schengen visa, the traveller will need to apply to the country that they visit first, or to the country that they will be staying in for the longest period of time.

The Schengen visa allows the holder to stay a total of up to 90 days within a period of 6 months for tourist or business purposes. If you get a multiple entry Schengen visa, you may leave and return any number of times within the 180-day period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 90 days.

How long can I stay on a business visa?

Business visas can range in validity; for a validity of 1 month up to 5 years. You will find that different countries have different lengths of validity on their business visas. With some business visas, you may be able to apply to extend the period of stay.

If you have anymore queries about any of the topics we have just covered, or if you have any other travel visa related questions, feel free to call our friendly team on 01270 250 590

Want to learn more about the different types of visa that are out there? Check out our recent blog: Get To Know Your Visas.

How long does it take to process my Chinese visa application?

When applying for either your Chinese tourist visa or your Chinese business visa, you can choose from three different service levels* with us:

  • Priority 1: 3 working days
  • Priority 2: 7 working days
  • Priority 3: 10 working days

*Working days excluding postal days.

Can I travel on an Indian e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for business meetings?

Yes. If you are travelling to India for business meetings, you can apply for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV).

When filling out the application, simply state your required type of visa as ‘business’ and purpose of travel as ‘business meetings’. This type of visa is applicable for those who wish to fly into India for stays of less than 30 days.

For stays of longer than 30 days, a full Indian visa is required.

What size photo do I need for India?

A standard visa photo needs to be: 2 by 2 inches or 5 by 5 cm

What is a Transit Visa?

This type of visa is valid for travellers who do not wish to stay in the country, but only to pass through it. The visa is temporary and only valid for a short period of time. Some countries require that you have a stop over of  24 hours minimum to grant you a transit visa. But, others provide a transit visa for a stop over as small as 4 hours.

What is an electronic travel visa?

Electronic visas come in a number of different formats (ESTA/ETA/e-Visa). These visas do not require you to submit your passport as they are electronically linked to your passport number through an online system. You can read more on one of our other blog posts.

When I have my passport photo taken, can I wear glasses?

You can wear glasses when having your passport/visa photograph taken. However, you cannot wear tinted glasses or sunglasses. The glasses can only be worn if they do not obstruct your eyes in the photograph.

Can I get a single entry visa for China?

You can now, only, apply for a multiple entry visa when travelling to China. This applies to both business and tourism purposes and will be valid for two years.

What is an e-Passport?

An e-passport (also referred to as a biometric passport) contains an electronic chip. The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information. Electronic visas can be applied to the passport without the need for any physical documentation.

I am travelling to, and will be staying in, America for more than 3 months, Can I get an ESTA?

Unfortunately not. American ESTA’s are valid for 12 months (this applies to travellers going to America for both business and tourism purposes) but you may only stay for 90 days at a time. For stays of over 3 months, you will need to apply for a full visa.

Can I go on a cruise with and Indian e-Tourist Visa?

Unfortunately not. If, during your cruise, you will be stopping in India: You will have to apply for a Full Indian Tourist Visa.

You can apply for your full Indian Visa here.

What is a working holiday visa?

A working holiday visa is for more casual work while you travel, e.g. for someone who is backpacking through Australia and picks up part time job to help keep their funds up while in Australia. Countries that offer a working holiday to British passport holders include: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan.

Can I travel on an Australian ETA for business meetings?

Yes. As long as you do not intend to stay in the country longer than three months, you can take part in conventions and conferences as well as meetings whilst in Australia. However, this visa is not intended for work purposes. If you take employment while in Australia on an ETA visa, you will be contravening the conditions of the visa.

Can I change to another visa while in Australia?

No. You cannot change visa types while onshore in Australia, you may only apply to extend your visa. If you are interested in applying for a permanent visa or another temporary visa, such as a Working Holiday Visa, the application must be made in the UK.

*It is important to note that there are many different contributing factors that can lead to the visa being granted. These factors may vary depending on the visitors nationality, country they are travelling to and type of visa they require (e.g. business, tourist, media, student visa…) 

Please note: The information provided in this blog post is correct at the time of publishing.Visa requirements can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information, call us or visit our website.

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