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The first proper frosts in Germany's winegrowing regions mean the start of the ice wine harvest is just around the corner. The temperature needs to drop below -7°C for several days in order for the grapes to freeze on the vine. Ice wine is a special type of wine that can only be produced in the northern wine regions. The harvest is a laborious process, as the frozen grapes are picked by hand in the early morning. Ice wine is particularly well suited to fruit desserts, ice cream and sorbets.

Germany's winegrowing regions are remarkably diverse and can be easily explored on walks or cycling tours.

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On 7 February 2014 the theme is 'Sparkling Dresden – Glitz and glamour at the Semper Opera Ball', as the city of Dresden celebrates at the Semper Opera House until the early hours. The stunning programme featuring leading opera stars is followed by young debutant couples performing a ten-minute choreography that sets the tone for the evening. There is also plenty of food and drink for guests to enjoy, with local restaurant bean&beluga and its Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hermann providing exquisite delicacies. In an unusual twist, the festivities also go on outside at the Semper Open-Air Ball on Theaterplatz square, where more than 10,000 people will be celebrating.

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The International Sweets and Biscuits Fair in Cologne is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world. The event will be drawing fans of chocolate and other treats to Cologne Exhibition Centre from 27 to 30 January 2014. For people in the business the trade fair is an essential part of the industry calendar.

While in Cologne, visitors with a sweet tooth should also stop by the Chocolate Museum. It takes you on a journey through the 3,000-year history of chocolate and lets you take a look behind the scenes of how it is produced. Be sure to try the chocolate from the three-metre-high chocolate fountain!

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The Deutsches Museum in Munich is presenting a special exhibition 'Inspired by nature: Drawings and models by Leonardo da Vinci' until 3 August 2014. The exhibition focuses on how da Vinci's observations of nature led him to remarkable scientific insights. In addition to facsimiles of da Vinci's manuscripts there are numerous historical models and interactive multimedia stations, so you are sure to come away with plenty of fascinating new discoveries.

Munich is very proud of its wealth of museums, several of which are internationally acclaimed – why not come and see them for yourself?

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The Black Forest^ is a popular spot for sled dog enthusiasts, as is evident when the annual international sled dog race comes to Todtmoos. Around 100 teams and 800 dogs will be in action in this part of the southern Black Forest from 24 to 26 January 2014. The open races featuring teams of ten dogs or more are particularly exciting. In the Todtmoos spa gardens you might even get the opportunity to meet some of the sled dogs close up.

For those who are more interested in getting active themselves than watching the dogs race, the Black Forest has lots of ski pistes and some wonderful walks.

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In 2014 Germany is celebrating a very special anniversary: 25 years since the peaceful revolution. To the cry of "We are the people – no violence!" more than 70,000 demonstrators confronted the armed security forces of the East German regime in Leipzig in 1989. Their actions made a significant contribution to the collapse of the regime and the fall of the Berlin Wall, ultimately leading to German reunification. Among the highlights of the year are the celebrations in Leipzig on 9 October 2014. During the course of 2014 you will be able to access a wealth of information about the peaceful revolution and the changes it brought, including on this website.

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From 31 January to 16 February visitors can enjoy the seventh KulturWinter programme in the enchanting setting of the Harz mountains. During this magical time of year there will be special guided tours and memorable events at castles, theatres, mines and abbeys. These venues give a hint of the diverse natural and cultural heritage of the northernmost mountains in Germany. Large parts of the area come under the Harz National Park, and there are also UNESCO World Heritage sites in Quedlinburg and Goslar. If you're visiting the Harz this winter, be sure to take a trip on the Harz narrow-gauge railway to the top of Mount Brocken.

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The Hohenbuchau Collection – one of the most exquisite private collections of north European baroque paintings – is on show at the Stuttgart State Gallery until 24 February 2014. The highlight of the exhibition is the collection of 17th century Dutch masterpieces covering a diverse range of subjects, from landscapes and still lifes to historical paintings.

Stuttgart is the perfect destination not only for lovers of art but also for car enthusiasts, who can visit both the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum to learn all about the history of the automobile.

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2013 is rapidly drawing to a close, but you can be certain that there will be just as much to look forward to and discover in Germany next year, too. One of the key focus areas for 2014 is 'UNESCO World Heritage – Sustainable cultural and natural tourism'. Germany has 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of an incredibly diverse cultural landscape. From industrial heritage to historical town centres, from castles and palaces to unspoilt scenery, every region has something new to discover. The world heritage sites are popular with all ages: active seniors, young people and families alike. Most of the attractions are also accessible to all.

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Discover the fairytale snow-covered landscape of the Spree Forest – and the true meaning of German gemütlichkeit – with a winter punting trip. Many operators offer boat rides right through to March 2014. Snuggle up and stay warm on board with blankets, tea, hot punch and glühwein – an amazing way to spend a winter's day with friends or family.

And when the weather becomes a little warmer you can also explore the Spree Forest by bike, following trails such as the Spree Cycle Route which has been awarded four stars by the German Cyclists' Federation (ADFC).

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