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If you want to start the spring feeling fit, healthy and relaxed, why not pay a visit to Saxony? The region's thermal spas and health resorts are an ideal choice for a short, relaxing break. 'Healing earth', hot springs, soothing massages and traditional spa rituals are just some of what's on offer. Some 16 quality-certified hotels and holiday parks in destinations such as Bad Elster and Bad Schandau are geared to the needs of discerning health-focused visitors.

Saxony is also great for culture and active pursuits. It's so easy to combine a spa break here with cultural attractions or walking and cycling. The Erzgebirge Vogtland Nature Park, the Upper Lusatian Moorland Biosphere Reserve and the Saxon Switzerland National Park are ideal for those who enjoy the great outdoors.

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Since 1990, International Tourist Guide Day has been held every year on 21 February to mark the date when the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations was founded. On 21 and 22 February 2015, you can take part in exciting guided tours all over Germany on this year's theme of 'stones' – and all for free!

Guided tours are being held, for example, in Hildesheim (the stone cellar – the stone legacy of Hildesheim), Leipzig (along the walls of the city centre with the Stadtstreicherin) and Saarbrücken (art in public spaces – stone sculptures in Saarbrücken city centre). Free guided tours are also being held in another 85 towns and cities across Germany.

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Until 29 March 2015 the famous bratwurst sausage is taking centre stage in Nuremberg. An exhibition at the Fembohaus Museum traces the history of the city in the context of the bratwurst, which is thought to date back 700 years. Today there are still strict rules about how to serve this local delicacy: cooked on an open beechwood grill, six, eight or twelve sausages on a tin plate, with sauerkraut or potato salad and horseradish sauce. The authentic Nuremberg grilled bratwurst must come from the city and since 2003 has been protected as a regional speciality by the EU.

Nuremberg lebkuchen are another delicacy that originate from the city. These large biscuit-shaped cakes come with a chocolate or sugar glaze and are extremely popular at Christmas. Delicious!

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Carnival season, or fastnacht, is a major highlight on Germany's calendar. On 16 and 17 February 2015 the town of Rottweil plays host to a centuries-old spectacle – the Rottweil Narrensprung. At 8am on the Monday and at 8am and 2pm on the Tuesday, hordes of colourfully dressed figures stream through the Black Gate to the sound of ringing bells, and wend their way through the historical town centre. But remember, only people from Rottweil are entitled to wear the traditional Narrensprung costume. The Swabian-Alemannic fastnacht, which was added to Germany's list of intangible cultural heritage in 2014, is also famed for its traditional hand-carved wooden masks. It's an event not to be missed!

Did you know? The Swabian Alb, situated 40km south-east of Stuttgart, is one of several UNESCO biosphere reserves in Germany. Here, you can expect stunning natural landscapes, geological wonders and sites of historical significance. Well worth a visit!

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On 21 February 2015, visitors to Schleswig-Holstein's North Sea coast will be treated to the sight of one of the oldest Frisian customs: the Biikebrennen bonfires (from the Frisian word biike, meaning beacon). On this day, huge bonfires are lit to drive out the winter and beckon in the spring. Afterwards everyone joins together to eat a traditional dish of curly kale with pork and sweet potato. In 2014 the Biikebrennen bonfires were added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in Germany.

Another tip for keeping warm on a cold winter's day by the sea is to indulge in the fantastic Frisian hot drinks. Try pharisäer, a hot coffee with a shot of rum, or Helgoland eiergrog, made with egg yolk, sugar, rum and water. Prost, as we say in Germany!

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Now in its 30th year, the Bischofsgrün Snowman Festival takes place on 16 February 2015. The work on Germany's biggest 'real' snowman will start on 13 February, three days before the event begins. By the time the celebrations unfold on Carnival Monday with an open-air party, a doughnut-eating contest and a torchlit procession, the giant snowman called Jakob will be over ten metres tall. You can see how Jakob the Thirtieth is taking shape before you even arrive, by watching the market square webcam.

Bischofsgrün is a climatic health resort in the Fichtelgebirge mountains and a great place to unwind. In Germany you find more than 350 quality-certified spa and health resorts that offer everything from mineral and thermal springs and therapeutic mud to soothing climates and invigorating sea water.

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The exhibition at the UNESCO World Heritage Völklingen Ironworks marking 25 years since German reunification has been extended until 8 March 2015, giving visitors longer to see the display of exclusive photographs by acclaimed photographer and photo journalist Helmut R. Schulze. The collection presents an eye-witness account of the political path to German unity. Born in 1929, Schulze enjoyed a front-row seat for many of the diplomatic occasions that helped to bring about reunification, and his images offer fascinating insights into Germany's history.

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and as of October 1990 Germany was a reunified nation. There are lots of exciting events planned for 2015 to mark the anniversary of German reunification. Find inspiration for your next outing with our 25 perspectives – a collection of places in Germany that have been given a new lease of life in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What are you waiting for?

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Now in its eighth year, the Harz KulturWinter runs from 30 January to 15 February. Make your trip to the Harz mountains memorable by taking full advantage of the wide-ranging programmes of activities available across the region, including special guided tours and unusual events. Venues include castles, palaces, museums, theatres, craft workshops, abbeys and even mines.

There's something for everyone in the Harz, whether it's a family tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Rammelsberg mines (followed by a stroll through Goslar's old quarter), a chocolate seminar in the UNESCO town of Quedlinburg or a fairytale experience at Wernigerode Castle.

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From 5 to 8 February 2015, all eyes in Bad Wiessee will turn skyward for the town's 15th Montgolfiade. Every day of this festival sees unusually shaped hot-air balloons take to the skies above Lake Tegernsee, creating a colourful spectacle that makes both children and grown-ups stop and stare. And there's plenty more to keep you busy in the Lake Tegernsee area, including snow hikes, torch-lit walks, horse-drawn sleigh rides and romantic evenings inside cosy log cabins.

Bad Wiessee is also famed for its iodine sulphur springs. So why not unwind with a trip to Bade Park Bad Wiessee with its spas, saunas and swimming pools or to the Monte Mare lakeside sauna?

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16 February 2015 is Carnival Monday, which sees parades taking place across the Rhineland. During carnival, or the 'fifth season' as it is known in many regions of Germany, the streets swell with colourful costumed characters, and a festival atmosphere fills the air as they parade through towns and cities. Put on your best carnival outfit and join the party!

The biggest of all the processions is the one held in Cologne. Large parades also take place in Düsseldorf, Mainz, Trier and Koblenz as well as in many other towns and cities across Germany. You can find out more about the long tradition of carnival or fastnacht at dedicated museums, such as those in Cologne, Mainz, Koblenz and Speyer.

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