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The people of Usedom island have come up with a novel idea for getting through the winter months, centred around Germany's famous wicker beach chairs. From 24 to 26 January 2014 they are staging the Usedom Winter Wicker Beach Chair Festival and the Beach Chair Sprinting World Championships. The aim of this not entirely serious competition is to see who is the fastest pair to carry a wicker beach chair over a distance of 20 metres. In addition to the thrilling races there is also plenty of other entertainment on offer for spectators, for example a beach chair auction and a beach party.

Holidaymakers visiting this Baltic island should make sure to take advantage of the extensive wellness and pampering programme.

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From January to July 2014 the Semper Opera House in Dresden is staging a Strauss cycle to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss. Among other works, it will include his famous operas Salome and Elektra, along with a number of symphony concerts. Richard Strauss is one of Germany's best-known composers and is said to have taken up composing at the age of six. In addition to the operas mentioned, the symphonic poems An Alpine Symphony and Also sprach Zarathustra are among his most acclaimed works. Richard Strauss was born in Munich, and after spending a long period of his life in Berlin he returned to live in Garmisch in Bavaria, where an annual Strauss Festival is held.

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From 4 to 9 February 2014 Nuremberg plays host to the Panoptikum European children's theatre festival. Under the theme of 'Theatre stories for all the senses' the Mummpitz theatre is offering an exciting and diverse programme for young audiences from age three upwards. The four members of the programming committee have spent the last few months watching a wide range of plays for children across Europe, and they are bringing the best of them to Nuremberg. The schedule includes everything from traditional theatre to cinematic concerts and dance and object theatre.

In German the word 'Mummpitz' means nonsense, so a visit to the festival is bound to provide plenty of laughs for all the family.

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The Orgel PLUS Festival, now in its 26th year, is being held in several churches in Bottrop from 5 to 12 January 2014. It consists of a total of twelve concerts, including one for children and families. The festival is centred around the organ, which will be accompanied by a variety of different instruments during the performances, such as oboes, trombones and bagpipes.

While visiting Bottrop you'll discover the fascinating history of the Ruhr region. A trip to the neighbouring city of Essen to see the Zollverein Coal Mine UNESCO World Heritage site is also highly recommended.

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Augsburg's H2 centre for contemporary art in the Glaspalast is presenting works by artist Paul Klee in the exhibition 'Mythos Fliegen' until 23 February 2014. Klee is recognised as a pioneer of German Expressionism and Classical Modernism. Around 80 of the artist's works are on display in the exhibition, most of which portray his impressions of the First World War. Having been forced into military service, Klee used art to come to terms with his wartime experiences.

Accompanying educational programmes for children, young people and adults make this exhibition an experience for the whole family.

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International Green Week, the world's biggest consumer fair for food, agriculture and horticulture, will take place at the Exhibition Centre in Berlin between 17 and 26 January 2014. This Berlin event is a tradition dating back more than 80 years, making it one of the longest-running exhibitions in Germany. The official partner country for 2014 is Estonia, and the Baltic nation will be showcasing its regional specialities at the event. As well as delicious food and drink, there will be a whole host of information on agriculture and horticulture. Visitors to the Berlin Exhibition Centre can travel the world as they explore all the different stands and products.

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Winter is upon us, which means the much-anticipated ski season in Germany is beginning to get under way. Miles and miles of ski pistes from the Harz mountains to the Alps promise fun for everyone. Whether you're a beginner or a pro – you'll find your perfect slope in Germany. In the higher locations, such as the Alps, the season lasts for around five months.

If skiing and snowboarding are not for you, there are countless other ways to explore the idyllic snow-covered mountain scenery this winter. There are many places, for example, where you can follow winter hiking trails, go sledding or enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

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Roll up, roll up for an extravaganza of entertainment in Essen! You have until 18 January 2014 to catch the 13th edition of Circus Roncalli's 'Panem et Circenses'. The theme for this season's circus variety, cuisine and music is 'ça c’est Paris'. While the artistes and acrobats put on a show to remember, you enjoy a four-course sit-down meal served in a traditional spiegelzelt in the grounds of the Jagdhaus Schellenberg restaurant.

Throughout the year, Circus Roncalli tours various towns and cities in Germany. You can also see acrobatic displays in a whole host of other circuses and cabarets.

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A biathlon competition at a football stadium in the Ruhr region? It might sound strange, but that's exactly what you can expect at the Arena auf Schalke. On 28 December 2013 around 50,000 fans will be cheering on the biathletes and creating an electrifying atmosphere in the wintry stadium. In what is now an annual tradition, the Arena auf Schalke hosts mixed relay competitions as part of an unofficial team world cup that sees men and women participating in the same disciplines.

The Veltins Arena hosts Bundesliga football games as the home ground of FC Schalke 04 and is also a venue for concerts, trade fairs and a wide range of events.

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Lighthouse in Flames, the spectacular New Year's event in Warnemünde near Rostock, will be taking place for the 15th year on 1 January 2014. The spectacle now attracts around 70,000 people to the resort on the Baltic Sea. At 6pm, following the countdown, there is a sensational light show and fireworks to welcome in the New Year, after which the new date is lit up on the lighthouse.

It is also well worth making a return visit a month later when Warnemünde hosts its annual Wintervergnügen winter festival from 31 January to 2 February 2014.

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