Sporting events in Germany: always on the edge of your seat ...

Faster, higher, stronger – and above all more exciting! That just about sums up sport in Germany, from packed football stadiums and motor racing weekends watched by hundreds of thousands of people to the world's biggest sailing regatta. For visitors as well, the Olympic motto says it all – being there is everything!

Over two weekends, the CHIO (Concours Hippique International Officiel) transforms the city of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia into the setting for the world's biggest equestrian festival. The event features approximately 500 horses and 300 riders, drivers and vaulters from more than 20 countries. The first weekend is particularly attractive for families. It traditionally includes the 'Horse and symphony' concert and an open day on 'Soers Sunday' featuring a varied programme of sports and show events.

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German basketball has become famous thanks to players such as Dirk Nowitzki, winner of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. In the German basketball league, or Bundesliga, 18 teams compete for the title of German Champions over 34 match days, from early October until late April every year. The competition heats up even further when the top eight teams qualifying for the playoff stage go head to head with each other. The matches attract more than a million avid spectators each season.

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The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park is not only a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, but it is also the venue for what must surely be one of the strangest horse races in the world: the Duhnen Mudflat Races near Cuxhaven. Against the dramatic backdrop of the Elbe estuary, an international shipping lane, horses and their jockeys compete in races across the mudflats held at low tide. Visitors can watch this remarkable spectacle unfold from the nearby dyke.

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The annual Ski-Jumping World Cup, held in Willingen in Hessen , is regarded as the kick-off to the FIS Team Tour, the ski-jumping series with the biggest prize pot of all time. And the event can boast a second record, as competitors at Willingen have the use of the world's biggest jumping slope for large hill competitions – the Mühlenkopfschanze, which was built in 1951 and measures 145 metres. The competition is open to national teams, each one consisting of four ski-jumpers. This annual event draws crowds of up to 100,000 spectators.

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An appealing mix of top sporting action and carnival fun is what makes the Travemünde Festival so special. Every year, some 3,000 sailors from nearly 25 countries descend upon this seaside resort to compete in the world's second-largest regatta series (after the Kiel Week Regatta ) – providing an eye-catching backdrop for the accompanying music and entertainment. You can stroll around a craft fair in the sailors' village, relax in one of the largest beach club complexes in Germany or enjoy live music played on stage in Brügmanngarten Park.

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If you think that marathon runners live abstemious, Spartan lifestyles, then you've clearly never been to the Saarland . This, after all, is where the Gourmet Marathon is held in Saarbrücken every year: an event that combines sport with fine food in a region overflowing with culinary delights. Here, there's more than fruit and isotonic beverages on offer, as tartes flambées and apple and ginger drinks lift runners' spirits. Spectators, meanwhile, can enjoy a gourmet market packed with regional specialities. The marathon route itself runs through some of the most scenic areas of Saarbrücken, making this a feast for the eyes as well.

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Every year, international biathletes descend upon Thuringia for the Biathlon World Cup, held in Oberhof's DKB Ski Arena. In their wake, tens of thousands of fans from Germany and all around the world flock to this small resort to cheer on their favourites in the relays, sprints and mass start races. Six video screens help spectators keep the competitors in view as they negotiate the winding course. And more than 30 stalls serving a range of Thuringian specialities ensure that any hunger pangs before, during or after the races are kept firmly at bay.

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