Embassy & Consulate Christmas Closures 2016

Here are the embassy & consulate closures across the UK:

Embassy / Consulate Date of Closure
Algeria December 27th, 31st & January 1st
Angola December 19th – January 5th
Azerbaijan December 26th, 27th & January 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Belarus December 21st, 28th & January 4th
Bangladesh December 26th, 27th & January 1st
Bulgaria December 26th, 27th, 30th
Canada December 26th, 27th & January 1st, 2nd
China December 26th, 27th & January 2nd
Congo December 23rd – January 4th
Cuba December 23rd – 28th & December 30th – January 2nd
Ethiopia December 25th – 27th & January 1st, 2nd
Ghana December 23rd – 28th & January 1st, 2nd
India December 25th, 26th & January 1st
Indonesia December 23rd – 28th
Japan December 28th – January 3rd
Liberia December 18th – January 3rd
Malaysia December 25th – 27th & January 1st, 2nd
Myanmar December 26th, 27th & 29th
New Zealand December 22nd – January 3rd
Nigeria December 25th, 26th & January 1st
Oman December 23th – January 3rd
Pakistan December 25th – 27th & January 1st
Papua New Guinea December 22nd – January 3rd
Phillipines December 23rd – 29th
Singapore December 25th, 26th & January 1st
Saudi Arabia December 26th – January 3rd
Thailand December 25th, 26th & January 2nd, 3rd
Tanzania December 23rd – January 3rd
Uganda December 16th – January 2nd
Vietnam December 26th, 27th & January 2nd
Zambia December 25th & January 1st
Zimbabwe December 23rd – January 2nd

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Where to shop this christmas

Shop till you drop

With billions of people from over 160 countries around the world celebrating Christmas, purchasing the gifts that will make your loved ones face light up can be one of the most important parts of the festive season! There is a huge selection of stores, shops and outlets around the world …so here are some of the best places that you should be visiting for this years Christmas goodies!

New York

A trip out to the Big Apple brings you closer to some of the most lavish and luxurious brands out there, with big names such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Estée Lauder, Tiffany & Co and Micheal Kors all based in New York City.

Take a stroll down the famous Fifth Avenue where you will pass many of Americas much loved department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury American department store that puts products from some of the worlds top designers on sale with ten stories of cosmetics, clothes, perfume and more! But a shopping trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Macy’s store – one of Americas largest department stores. This retail giant offers up almost everything you could possibly want from kids toys and clothing to trending fashion and top tech. International visitors can also take advantage of a 10% discount. If you are lucky enough to visit New York in time for Thanksgiving, be sure to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – a national event with over 50+ million fans tuning in to watch each year.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in New York during the Christmas season, as well as shopping, there are a few extra things not to miss:

  • Get your skates on and head down to the ice rink at central park
  • Join thousands of New Yorkers and tourists and watch the lighting event at the world famous Rockefeller centre
  • or get yourself over to Macy’s Santaland (but don’t forget to make a reservation!)

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Munich

The Christmas markets of Munich are an annual historic event with its first Christmas market taking place back in the 14th century. Since then, they have grown massively – expanding to over 20 different locations within Munich, making it one of Europe’s most popular destinations for festive shopping! Take part in workshops, enjoy live music, feast on the delicious Christmas treats and explore this beautiful city.

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Feeling adventurous?

When it comes to Christmas markets, Europe and America are the places most talked about… but we shouldn’t forget that this is a celebration that takes place all over the world and places like Shanghai, Moscow and even Cape Town also take part in the festive celebrations.

Shanghai

Looking for a change of scenery? Enjoy all of the traditional celebrations like hot mulled wine/cider, toasted gingerbread and hot chocolate in the beautiful city of Shanghai. There are plenty of places you can go to in Shanghai to get those Christmassy feels. The Hilton Hotel and JW Marriott Shanghai take orders for traditional Christmas dinners so you can still tuck in to a roasted Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings!

The Hongqiao Flower Market in Minhang puts both real and artificial trees and wreaths on sale to the public as-well as some of the essential Christmas tree decorations. You will also find the Swedish megastore IKEA offering up mulled wine, cookies and other treats for the those hungry shoppers as Christmas draws closer.

xmas-tree

Moscow

In Moscow for Christmas? It’s going to be a cold one! Get your woolly hat, scarf and mittens on – with possible lows of -16 degrees, you are definitely going to need a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm you up. The annual “Journey into Christmas” is held in the Red Square  with 38 Christmas ‘zones’ that hold more than 100 stalls.

One thing not to miss is the Christmas light installations in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street. This magical display is the perfect place to spend the evening. Walk through the tunnel of Christmas lights and explore the festive illuminations!

xmas-lights

Cape Town

Christmas eve in Cape Town pulls out all the stops. Enjoy Cape Town’s biggest, free open-air event – a spectacular laser, lights and firework display! Join thousands of Capetonians at the Adderley Street Christmas light switch on for the launch of the holiday season. If you happen to find yourself in South Africa during the holidays, why not celebrate Christmas on the beach? With temperatures reaching 25 degrees, relaxing on the beach might just be the best way to spend Christmas day!

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Let us know

Have you spent Christmas somewhere wacky and wonderful? Leave a comment below and let us know the most obscure places you have celebrated this festive holiday.

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Happy Holidays

December has arrived and the New Year will soon be upon us so here is a run-down of the holiday events that will be closing off 2015!

Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah?

This holiday is celebrated by the Jewish community and lasts for 8 days (December 6 – 14). Back in 165 B.C.E the Greek king of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. Most Jews were, understandably, angry and decided to fight back. The Jewish rebel army managed to drive the opposing Syrian army out of Jerusalem and so reclaimed their land. Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory.

How is Hanukkah celebrated?

You can usually find a 9-branched candelabra, called a Hanukkiahlit. The 8 branches are set alight to represent the 8 days of Hanukkah while the 9th is used to light the others.

A common past-time for Jews during Hanukkah is playing the dreidel which is used for gambling with small candies, nuts or fruit!

Treats and gifts are often exchanged everyday during the 8 days. Childeren are given chocolate and money whereas the parents can receive other gifts including: books, oils and cooking recipes.

An important part of Hanukkah is the food. Traditional Jewish foods such as Latkes, doughnuts, and foods fried in oil are eaten by the families in these 8 days.

hanukkah

Kwanzaa

What is Kwanzaa?

This holiday was created in 1966 and is relatively new as holidays go. Unlike other holidays, it is not tied to any religion – it was created for Africans to celebrate their heritage. It got its name from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which thanks the gods for their harvest.

It lasts from December 2 to the 1st of January.

How is it celebrated?

During Kwanzaa homes are decorated, gifts are exchanged and candles are lit! Each day a different candle is lit to represent a different African principle and each day it is a different candle that is lit.

Commonly, during Kwanzaa, you can find many people taking part in musical gatherings, candle lighting rituals and the feast that takes place on the 6th day (New Years eve).

kwanzaa

Christmas

What is Christmas?

Taking place on the 25th of December each year, this (as well as Easter) is one of the most important days of the year for Christians as it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus!

Often, children are told that Father Christmas (Santa) will squeeze down the chimney and put presents under the Christmas tree for each boy and girl that has been good this year but if you’ve been bad… you can expect to find coal in your stocking!

How is it celebrated?

Christmas is celebrated with popular festive carols, the most popular being ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Due to its popularity Christmas is also very embedded into pop culture. Best selling artists and songs include: ‘Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, Michael Bublé and soundtracks to films such as Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Each year families will decorate a fir tree with tinsel, wooden ornaments, baubles, sweets and then decoratively wrap presents to then be set under the tree for opening in morning. Treats and snacks are also prepared by families which include sausage rolls, mince pies, pigs in blankets and many others!

Then comes the feast! Traditionally a roast Turkey or Goose will be cooked, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and lots of gravy!

When the day draws to an end it is likely that the family settle down to watch some festive television, movies or to keep themselves busy with the gifts they have just received.

christmas

From everyone here at The Travel Visa Company we would like to wish you all Happy Holidays!

Holiday Season in Europe

Why Europe?

If you’re looking for a lovely little winter get-away, then look no further… Europe is the place to be.

Europe plays host to charming small villages, world famous landmarks and some stunning cities such as Prague, Athens, Stockholm, Rome, Zurich and many, many more. With such a wide range of diverse and cultural places to go and see, travelling around Europe is a bucket list essential!

places

What to do whilst visiting Europe

Europe contains a great deal of different things to do and see. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Winter Sports

One of the most popular activities has to be Skiing. This is an adventurous pursuit that the whole family can get involved in. There’s a whole load of different ski resorts that can cater to your needs, budgets and skill level. It is said that Val Thorens (France) is rated one of the best ski resorts in the world – possibly due to the fact that it is the highest altitude resort in Europe!

But the fun doesn’t stop at skiing. Some ski resorts also offers downhill mountain biking, paragliding, ice-water scuba diving, sledding with huskies and you can even spend an evening in a Yurt. Other popular resorts include: La Plagne (France), Westondorf (Austria) and Alagna (Italy).

Another popular activity would be Mountain climbing. Now this isn’t for the faint hearted. Mountain climbs can be hard work and require a lot of training, dedication and commitment. Having said that, they are an incredible achievement and give you something to brag about for years to come! Popular mountain climbing destinations include: Fontainebleau (France), Västervik (Sweden) and San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily.

sports

Christmas Markets

For those of you who would rather relax into the festive season, Europe is the best place to find some of the most amazing Christmas markets around the world!

When you think of the Christmas markets, your first thought is probably of Berlin and their world renowned Christmas markets, however other cities such as Brussels, Cologne, Stockholm and Vienna are becoming more and more popular to travel to each year.

The markets are usually packed with shoppers out to experience everything the city has to offer. From the stalls to stores you can expect to find traditional hand-made gifts, an array of locally sourced foods accompanied with the classic: Mulled Wine, providing everything you need to get in to the Christmas spirit! But we must warn you that it is the middle of the winter and you will need to take this into account as temperatures drop and the chance of snow and ice increases.

markets

Lapland

Why not take the family out to Finland to meet Santa himself! Lapland is Finland’s most northern region and borders Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. Flights from the UK usually take around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Lapland is also known for its vast wilderness, ski resorts and (if you’re lucky enough) you may get a chance to see the famous Northern Lights! You can also get a ride in Santa’s sleigh, go for a winter safari by dog sled, visit local museums or even just relax in the sauna… and it is said that there are more saunas than personal vehicles in Finland!

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Roadtrips

Just you, your family and the open road. The beauty of going on a road trip is that you can choose where you go, what you do, when you want. There are many pre-planned routes that you can follow which will take you to some of Europe’s most popular attractions – here’s a useful link for an incredible route featuring some stunning scenery: lifehacker.com

roadtrip

Thinking of visiting?

If you are a non-UK passport holder visiting Europe you may need what is called a ‘Schengen Visa’. This grants you access to 22 different European countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For more information about the requirements and to see if you are eligible for a Schengen Visa, go to our website: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/schengen/

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