What’s happening in 2020 – Get your visa sorted for the big events of the year!

The year ahead will be full of exciting events across the globe, including many large sporting events that are sure to attract thousands of visitors. After experiencing long waiting times for visa appointments and extended processing times for visas in busy periods in 2019, we're here to give you the heads up so you don't miss out on that special trip to the big events of 2020!

The year ahead will be full of exciting events across the globe, including many large sporting events that are sure to attract thousands of visitors. After experiencing long waiting times for visa appointments and extended processing times for visas in busy periods in 2019, we’re here to give you the heads up so you don’t miss out on that special trip to the big events of 2020!

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This month our visa specialists Katie and Jess take a look at the big events planned for 2020, and how you can prepare the paperwork for your visit.


Sports fans will already be making plans for their trips, if they’re lucky enough to get tickets for some of the events happening in 2020. After securing tickets to the event, as well as booking a flight and some accommodation nearby, it’s important to consider any visa requirements.

These will differ dependent on your nationality, residency and destination. If there are several people in your party, check this information with each of them to ensure no one loses out at the last minute! If you’re taking a long haul flight, or transiting through another country to reduce travel costs, check the requirements here too. Most countries will allow you to transit through without any visa requirements but it’s not always the case. Some popular transit destinations, such as China, even allow you to apply for a short transit visa when you arrive, allowing you to explore further and add an extra experience to your trip!

Below are some of the main sporting events which are happening in 2020 so far.

EventDate Location 
Six Nations RugbyFebruary – MarchUK, France, Italy, Ireland
Formula One Grand Prix March Australia, Bahrain
Formula One Grand Prix  April  Vietnam, China 
Formula One Grand Prix  May Netherlands, Spain, Monaco 
Formula One Grand Prix  June Azerbaijan, Canada, France 
UEFA Euro 2020 June – July 12 countries across Europe 
Formula One Grand Prix  JulyAustria, UK
Olympics Tokyo 2020July – August  Japan
Formula One Grand Prix  August Hungary, Belgium
Formula One Grand Prix  September Italy, Singapore, Russia 
Formula One Grand Prix  October Japan, USA 
Formula One Grand Prix  NovemberMexico, Brazil
Formula One Grand Prix  DecemberAbu Dhabi
events in 2020 olympics

Olympics Tokyo 2020

Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020. It will be just over two weeks of fun, excitement and competition, with many flocking to the city to watch this global event. The multi-sport event will take place from 24th July to 9th August in Japan’s capital. With 206 countries and over 11,000 expecting to take part in over 30 events, it is set to be the biggest sporting event of the year.  

With its traditional culture and its love for technology, there are many more reasons to visit this colourful city than just the Olympics. From visiting a robot restaurant, exploring a Samurai Museum, to walking through a temple, there are many things to do and see in Tokyo.  

While UK citizens do not need a visa to travel to Japan for up to 90 days, there are many citizens that do require a visa before they can travel to Japan. We would advise you to contact the Embassy of Japan to find the full requirements before you plan your trip to Japan. The Japanese Authorities have discussed releasing an e-visa for people going to Japan to watch the Olympics, however the full information about this e-visa has not been disclosed yet.  

While Japan is both interesting and beautiful, there are many travellers that are using the Olympics as an opportunity to explore the diversity of Asia by visiting other countries nearby.  

After you have enjoyed the excitement of the Olympics and had your fill of Japan, why not venture elsewhere in Asia? You could walk the Great Wall in China, learn yoga in Indonesia, Sail along Halong Bay in Vietnam or enjoy the many beaches in Thailand.    

The visa requirements differ from country to country and some citizens can enjoy visa free travel for short stays in some of these countries. However, depending on the country, your citizenship and how long you wish to travel, you may be required to obtain a visa before you travel. For example, if you hold a UK passport, you can travel to Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa. If you wish to stay for longer, you need to apply for a visa beforehand.

Formula One Grand Prix

The Grand Prix runs all year round and the races take place all over the world, kicking off in Australia in March and finishing up in the United Arab Emirates in November.  2020 is set to be one of the most spectacular events in the sport’s history, with the championship being held over 22 countries, which makes it the longest championship ever. Everyone will be on the edge of their seats to see if Lewis Hamilton will win his seventh championship, thus tying the legendary Michael Schumacher.  

With many car enthusiasts wanting to be in the crowd of one of the most exciting sport events, it’s paramount to start planning your trip to the tracks. Visa-free travel is available to many of these countries, so the trip could be as simple as checking your luggage in and hopping on the plane.  

For other countries, you will need to get authorisation before you travel, such as the United States ESTA and the Australia ETA. These are fairly straight forward and do not take that long to process, however simple mistakes on the application forms can lead to delays or even your travel authorisation being delayed. In the case of the United States, this can result in applicants having to attend an appointment at the US Embassy to apply for a full travel visa. This can potentially delay the process for a couple of months and cost you a lot more money! We do advise that you apply for the ESTA well in advance, to ensure that you get the authorisation to travel in time for the big race.  

For other countries, you will need a full visa before you can travel. This includes China and Russia. Both countries are beautiful and full of rich culture, but getting there can be a bit tricky. For both Russia and China, you will need to attend the relevant visa centre in order to provide your biometrics, which is where they take a scan of your fingerprints and a photo of your face. You also need to present a range of documents and complete an online application form.

Citizens of some countries may be required to obtain a visa before they travel to European countries. For most of the continent, this is known as a Schengen visa, which covers all 26 countries in the Schengen Area. While this simplifies matters once the visa has been acquired, it can be very confusing when you are researching and applying for the visa! This is because there are strict rules on which country you should apply for, and each country has slightly different requirements. It can seem like walking through a maze as you try to understand the different requirements and procedures.   

For each Schengen visa application, you will be required to attend an appointment at a visa centre. The Schengen visa centres can get really booked up, and we have seen over a month’s wait for some centres before. You can apply for a Schengen visa up to three months before your trip, so we would advise starting the process as soon as you can, particularly if you are travelling over the summer.  You can read our full guide on this visa type and how to apply here.

What else is happening in 2020?

United States

The United States holds the most colourful and entertaining festivals. Each one is different, and every culture, trend and interest is catered for. There is truly something for everyone in America! 

The festivals kick off in January with the Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City, Utah. Great minds and storytellers get together to showcase documentaries, features and short films. Running from 1985, this festival has grown and gained critical recognition and acclaim. It attracts audiences from across the global and some events over the week include panel discussions, live music events and award ceremonies.  

events in 2020 mardi gras

In February, the crowds will arrive in New Orleans, Louisiana for the yearly celebration of Mardi Gras. This annual event brings in people from all of the globe, with its great music, massive parades and floats and colourful costumes. This festival should be on everyone’s bucket list! There is so much to do over this period, from dressing up in bright costumes, catching beads and doubloons thrown from the floats, listening to Jazz at a local club to trying the famous local cuisine such as jambalaya or beignets. It is definitely the place to be in February.  

The next big event will be on the West Coast, to Indio, California. Thousands of people will gather for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivals, which will be held over 2 weekends in April. With previous headliners such as Ariana Grande, Beyonce and Guns N’ Roses, this year is set to be just as spectacular. It is a time to relax, dance, sing and enjoy the amazing art installations, which contribute to making this festival so popular.   

Superheroes, Jedi and princesses alike will assemble in San Diego, California for the annual San Diego Comic-Con International. The weekend is full of fun activities, such as cosplay, workshops, anime and film screenings, games and discussion panels. Every year there is a host of special guests and people come from all over the world to meet them. It is an event that brings together young and old to enjoy the things that bring them joy, including comic books, movies, TV shows and literature.  

Even though there are many amazing events going on throughout the US in 2020, the final one we will discuss is the annual Burning Man, held in Black Rock Desert, Nevada in August. Tens of thousands of people will gather in the desert to create a temporary city dedicated to community and art. Attendees are encouraged to express themselves through their creative powers and to immerse themselves in the temporary society for 9 days. At the end of the event, a huge structure of a man is burned. It is a unique and special event which promotes self-love, self-reliance and participation. 

So, you may have planned your tickets, flights, accommodation and costumes, but do not forget about the important visa! For 39 countries, this would be in the form the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which is a simple online form. You complete the form and within 72 hours, you will know if your application has been accepted or not. Then you just print it off and take it with you to the airport. Simple as that!  

We would advise that you leave more than 72 hours to complete the application as the website may be down for maintenance or you may not be granted the ESTA for whatever reason. The application could be denied for many reasons, from a simple spelling mistake to you not being eligible for the visa waiver due to having a criminal background. If the application is denied, then you will need to apply for a full B2 tourist visa through the US Embassy. This process takes more time and involves a lot more steps.

You need to complete a long online form, provide more documents and attend an appointment at the US Embassy. We have known the wait for appointments at the Embassy to be more than 2 months before, so we would advise sorting out your visa as soon as possible. Once you have the ESTA, you have up to 2 years to use it, so applying for it a couple of months before you travel would mean that you have plenty of time to get a visa if something goes wrong. After all the planning and money that you have put into your trip, you don’t want to get caught out at the last step.  

Remember, if you do not qualify for the ESTA, you will need to go through the Embassy, which can be a lengthy process. Don’t miss out on your trip!


If you’re in Europe, there are plenty of exciting things going on a little closer to home which you definitely don’t want to miss out on! A variety of European countries are boasting some superb sporting and entertainment events in 2020 which many fans will want to attend but, as mentioned above, getting an appointment at the relevant Visa Centre can be easier said than done. 

Six Nations Rugby

events in 2020 rugby

If you are a big fan of rugby union, you’re likely looking forward to cheering on your favourite team in the Six Nations Championship, which pits the six highest-ranking teams in Europe against each other to determine the victor for the year. Some of the matches will take place in the UK as three of the stadiums are based there, in England, Scotland and Wales respectively.

If you’re wanting to travel in person to watch the matches in France and Italy and you require a Schengen Visa to enter these countries, you’re going to need to be quick. The Six Nations begins on the 1st of February, leaving only a couple of months to get your visa sorted. With no appointments for the French Visa Centre until mid-January and the appointments for the Italian Visa Centre booking up almost as quickly, you will need to begin the Visa process very soon to ensure you don’t miss the action! 

The final country vying for the Six Nations trophy is Ireland, which is not part of the Schengen area. Therefore, if you require a Visa to travel there, it will be a dedicated Irish Visa you will need to apply for. There are both pros and cons to the Irish Visa application process in that you do not need to attend an appointment which is a bonus as you aren’t competing with other travellers trying to secure an early appointment. On the other hand, the process does take up to 4 weeks from the time of submission of your application so it’s another case of having to be quick in order to get the Visa issued in time.  

UEFA Euro 2020

events in 2020 euros

For football fans, the UEFA Euro 2020 is on the horizon; beginning on the 12th of June 2020, the event will see 20 teams fight to become the European football champions. The stadiums where the matches will be played are based in the following countries: 

United Kingdom Germany Italy Azerbaijan 
Hungary The Netherlands Denmark Ireland 
Scotland Spain Romania Russia 

Of the 12 host cities, half are in the Schengen area so, if you aren’t eligible to travel there without a Visa, you will need to ensure you leave plenty of time to book a suitable appointment. Remember that, once you have attended your appointment, it can take up to 15 working days for the Visa to be issued so it is a good idea to begin your application two to three months before you are due to travel. We advise not applying before this because you don’t want to risk your Visa expiring before you even set off! 

One of the most interesting developments in regards to the Euro 2020 is Russia’s decision to offer Visa-Free entry into the country for the duration of matches hosted in Saint Petersburg. Normally, UK passport holders are required to obtain a Visa to travel to Russia so this removes the hassle of having to undertake the whole Visa process. To ensure you can take advantage of these Visa-Free conditions, you must have a FAN ID (compulsory for everyone attending a match at Saint Petersburg Stadium, including locals) and you can only apply for this once your tickets have been purchased. Even more exciting is that you will be able to enter Russia from the 30th May, which is two weeks before the first match even kicks off! You can then remain in Russia up to the 13 July 2020, ten days after the final match in Saint Petersburg has come to an end. 

Eurovision Song Contest


It’s not just a big year for sport in Europe. Music fans can also rejoice as the Eurovision Song Contest comes to Rotterdam in The Netherlands in May 2020. The last time the country hosted the event was in 1980 so it is likely that many will want to travel to see the show in person, especially considering its close proximity to the UK in comparison with 2019’s host, Israel. As ever, the appointments for Schengen countries book up quickly as we approach the summer months so ensure you get your application completed in good time so you don’t risk missing the largest of the live music events of 2020! 

While you’re here, why not keep up to date with all the latest comings and goings by following us on social media?

Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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