Top five carnival and Mardi Gras festivals around the world

Although Carnival and Mardi Gras are synonymous with Rio de Janerio in Brazil and New Orleans in the United States, the festival has its roots elsewhere. French for “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is a major tourist attraction in any city where it is celebrated. Chief Information Officer Olivier Dombey said: “This is traditionally a wild event known for its flamboyant costumes, festive balls, loud music, and all-night partying, but it actually draws its cultural origins to rituals and traditions that date back thousands of years.

For travelers suffering from a case of Carnival and Mardi Gras fever, here is a brief overview of the top five festivals on the planet:

New Orleans Mardi Gras

For anyone in North America, New Orlean’s Mardi Gras is the big daddy of all carnival events. This celebration dates back to the 1730s soon after the city was first established. It has its own unique traditions of “Krewes,” “Big Chiefs,” and, of course, the throwing of beads. To find out how the action unfolds and where to wine and dine, read through’s “Mardi Gras: ‘Phat’ Tuesday’” event article. For the best hotel deals in town, also look through New Orleans Hotel Promotions starting from as low as US$45 per night.

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival

The Trinidad & Tobago Carnival is one of the most popular events of its kind in the Caribbean. It is famous for “Soca”, a drum and percussion-based Caribbean Calypso that gets participants and visitors grooving to the carnival beat. This festival truly has eclectic influences; find out all about it in’s “Trinidad & Tobago Carnival the Ultimate Rave” event feature. For the lowest rates around, scroll through Port of Spain Hotel Promotions that start from US$129 per night.

Rio de Janero Carnival

Rio de Janeiro Carnival is Mardi Gras’ “Mecca” in a country where almost every city or town organizes its own festival. There are way too many events on in Rio to list here; better to read through’s “Rio Carnival: Pure, Unadulterated Hedonism” event article. Rooms are still available, so make sure to check out’s Rio de Janeiro Hotel Promotions to find rates from US$49 per night.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

Get your “gadar” on, as the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is considered by many the top event of its kind in the world. Pop diva Kylie Minogue, the unofficial queen of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, is returning to the event for the first time in years. Read all about it in’s “Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: Sydney Style” event article. For hotel deals throughout the three-week festival, look over Sydney Hotel Promotions with rates starting from only US$24 per night.

Goa Carnival

The Goa Carnival draws on its colonial Portuguese roots but has morphed into a very local and unique festival. To learn all about it, read’s “Goa Carnival Brings Partying to the Streets” event article and then discover Goa Hotel Promotions for last-minute rates starting from as little as US$11 per night.

The luxurious Insólito is a blend of brazil´s culture, nature and design

Located in the famous beach retreat of Búzios, Insólito is built on a rock outcrop over the beautiful Ferradura Beach. The former fishing village Búzios is a peninsula with 26 dreamlike beaches, 160 km northeast from Rio de Janeiro, and is also called the Brazilian Saint-Tropez.

In the middle of flourishing nature, it offers its guests an exclusive, breathtaking and privileged view as well as equilibrium between comfort, culture, social and environmental commitment.

The hotel’s 20 rooms are based on themes that enhance Brazilian artists. The rooms and suites serve as an exhibition for uniquely designed pieces, which make reference to music, photography, literature, art, nature, history, fashion and Negro culture.

The original architecture of the hotel’s houses is peculiar to Búzios. Built between 1992 and 1998 by the celebrated architect Otavio Raja Gabaglia, the houses are built on a model that integrated them with nature.

The reforms performed later strengthened the idea of communion between architecture and nature. The interior space was renovated in 2006, by the carioca architect-decorator Luiz Fernando Grabowsky, to modernize Insólito’s installations.

Increasing the size of the windows, the multiplication and modification of the terraces integrated the construction ever more with nature. In 2007, the landscape gardener Anouck Barcat joined the team to modify the external areas of Insólito taking into mind the same view. Typical Brazilian material, such as wood and Portuguese stone, were given preference, together with the beautiful local native flora.

In order to support sustainable development model initiatives, artisans or socially responsible companies were called in. The decoration signed by the owner, Emmanuelle Meeus de Clermont Tonnerre, is the high point of this project.

Enamored with Brazil, Emmanuelle transformed the hotel into a true art gallery. The hotel features timeless decoration, where furniture from the 50’s mixes with modern pieces, works of art by Brazilian artists and artisans blend.

The sophisticated restaurant offers a delicious culinary trip and the opportunity to explore the flavours of a Franco-Brazilian fusion. There are two spaces in the restaurant: a lounge on the swimming pool deck with a view over the sea, and a large indoor room with a wall of blue tiles hand-painted by Laura Taves.

The “parilla” is a traditional Latin American barbeque where food is cooked out in the open in front of guests, allowing them to soak up expert tips on the different cuts of meat and how to cook them best, as well as being further immersed in Brazilian traditions.

A unique vertical garden produced by São Paulo company Quadro Vivo functions as a living frame to the kitchen and outline for the bar, designed by architect Luis Fernando Grabowsky.

Between the beach and the garden, the Insólito Beach Lounge covers an area of 3,000 m², beside the hotel, thus providing direct access to beautiful Ferradura beach. In the middle of the garden, there are various charming comfortable covered decks to protect the holidaymakers from the sun.

The relaxing boutique hotel offers guests three choices pools; one with fresh water, another with heated water and the final with seawater. At the Insólito Wellness Center one can indulge in spa treatments and Indian rituals and enjoy the beautiful surrounding nature.

This charming boutique hotel retains the personal relaxed atmosphere of a private home and guarantees ultimate luxury and leisure at the same time. Thanks to its charm and refinement, Insólito Boutique Hotel was elected as one of the best hotels in Latin America by the renowned guide Condé Nast Johansens.

British Airways’ doubles flights to Rio

British Airways is continuing its commitment to Brazil by doubling its weekly frequency to Rio de Janeiro from three to six flights.

Neil Cottrell, British Airways’ head of network planning, said: “We are experiencing a real increase in demand for Rio and by doubling the number of frequencies, we are able to offer our customers more choice and greater availability. Brazil is also experiencing strong economic growth and this capacity increase is a great opportunity for British Airways to be part of that growth.”

Flights will now depart Heathrow for Rio every day, except Mondays. The departure time remains at 12.15pm, landing in Rio at 9.55pm local time.
The flight will continue to be served by a three class B777, enabling customers to choose from World Traveller (economy), World Traveller Plus (premier economy) and the airline’s fully flat beds in Club World (business class).

Earlier this month, British Airways and Iberia announced the immediate start of codesharing on a new tranche of one another’s flights. This included BA putting its code on Iberia flights from Madrid to San Jose (Costa Rica) and Panama City and Iberia adding its code to BA’s Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Muscat services. Iberia has also added its code onto British Airways’ services to Cape Town and both airlines are now sharing their Johannesburg flights. Iberia’s flights to Havana also started carrying the BA code on April 15.


Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Unsafe’ Reputation: Is it Really Deserved?

Brazil’s most popular city is neither its capital nor its largest. Located between the Atlantic and one of the world’s most impressive mountain ranges, Rio de Janeiro is widely regarded as a breathtaking centre for semi-tropical beach life and immense parties. With several of the world’s greatest beached in its commercial core, it’s very much a city that breathes beach life and athleticism.

It’s also, unfortunately, a city with a fairly deserved reputation for crime and danger. Rio’s extensive collection of slums and substandard housing communities have contributed somewhat, alongside its great deal of social issues. Known as ‘favelas’ to residents, the city’s slum communities stretch into the distance, illuminating the base of the many mountains and cliffs that lock in the city centre.

But how dangerous is it for you, the tourist? While violent crime rates in Rio de Janeiro are some of the world’s highest, they’re a fairly inaccurate measure of its safety for visitors. Most tourists remain within a defined and specific area during their visit, a reality that can make citywide statistics all but completely irrelevant when it comes to measuring tourist safety.

Petty crime, however, remains a major concern for tourists. Outside of its commercial core, Rio can become a fairly deserted city during the night. Drug dealers and gangs are common in areas known for nightlife, and petty thievery is a concern for tourists who adopt a ‘wealthy’ dress sense. Tourists are advised to dress modestly, removing the temptation for thieves and would-be muggers.

The situation, while far from ideal, isn’t the crime apocalypse that a number of publishers make it out to be. At the same time, however, Rio de Janeiro is a city that’s home to social issues and large pockets of limited safety. While its reputation for questionable safety and violent crime is deserved, it’s unlikely to interfere with most tourism activity in the city.