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From December 2014 until early June 2015, Düsseldorf Opera House is hosting a run of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute. This modern production from director Barrie Kosky has already been seen in Berlin, Los Angeles and Duisburg, and will blow you away with its mixture of live action and hand-drawn animations. Don't miss this exceptional cultural event.

Düsseldorf is well known as an excellent shopping destination, not just for the latest fashions but also for all your Christmas shopping.

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Up until 11 January 2015, you can experience Europa-Park in all its winter glory. Thousands of decorated fir trees, glittering lights and the cinnamon-scented aroma of lebkuchen all combine to make a visit over the holiday season something rather special. Among the highlights of winter at Europa-Park are the nightly Parade of Lights, the musical Christmas market in the Globe Theatre and the new family attraction, Arthur in the Minimoys Kingdom. Europa-Park's most elaborate indoor attraction to date takes you on a journey through Arthur's magical world.

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On New Year's Eve, there are lots of reasons to visit Passau, the 'town on three rivers' in the far south of Germany. Landestheater Niederbayern, the regional theatre, will be presenting an evening of opera highlights featuring soloists and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lower Bavaria. The programme will feature music from The Magic Flute by Mozart and Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3. Another highlight for all the family is a New Year's Eve pleasure cruise on the Danube with a gala buffet, live music and dancing.

For visitors to Passau, there are lots of places of interest to discover, such as the medieval Höllgasse alley and the artists' quarter in the old town. And did you know that the town's baroque Cathedral of St. Stephen is home to the world's largest cathedral organ?

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The Chocolate Museum in Cologne is hosting an exhibition themed on the Three Wise Men that runs until 6 January 2015. The relicts of the Three Wise Men, which were transferred from Milan to Cologne in 1164, are contained inside a shrine at Cologne Cathedral. To celebrate the 850th anniversary of the arrival of the relics in the city, a model of the shrine has been crafted from 300 kilograms of chocolate. Visitors to the museum can also make their own Christmas chocolates.

You can find out more about the Three Wise Men at an exhibition entitled 'The Magi. Legend, Art and Cult', which is on at Cologne's Schnütgen Museum until 25 January 2015.

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The winter exhibition 'The World of Käthe Kruse Dolls' is on at the palace on Lake Constance's Flower Island of Mainau until 8 February 2015. Using films, audio recordings and tactile exhibits, the exhibition documents the history of Käthe Kruse dolls, which goes back more than a hundred years. There is also an activities workshop for children.

The exhibition is one of a number of attractions to discover around Lake Constance. Other highlights include the prehistoric pile dwellings, which have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Meersburg Castle (the oldest in Germany), and the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, not to mention numerous cycling and walking trails.

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On 27 and 28 December 2014, the first leg of the 63rd Four Hills tournament will get under way in Oberstdorf in the Allgäu region. The Four Hills tournament sees the best ski jumpers in the world competing for points. For the participants, the event in Oberstdorf is all about getting off to a good start. The second leg, the New Year Ski Jumping contest on 31 December and 1 January, is being held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Why not come along and cheer on your compatriots?

If you'd rather be playing sport than watching sport, the Allgäu Alps are a perfect destination for active pursuits and winter sports. As well as Superschnee, Germany's largest ski resort, the region also has countless walking trails and cycle paths.

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From 18 to 21 December 2014 fans of equestrian sport will be in their element in the city of Frankfurt. The International Festhalle Horse Show offers world-class competitions in showjumping and dressage. You can look forward to top sporting action and fantastic entertainment as the world's top riders battle it out for victory.

But this isn't the only sporting highlight on offer in Frankfurt: the FraPort Skyliners are in the top division of the national basketball league, Eintracht Frankfurt play in the football Bundesliga, 1. FFC Frankfurt play in the top division of the women's football league, and Löwen Frankfurt play in the 2nd division of the national ice hockey league.

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Welcome in the new year in style on Theaterplatz square in Dresden, against the backdrop of the Semper Opera House, the cathedral and Zwinger Palace. The Silvester Open-Air in the Magic City of Dresden is the biggest New Year's Eve party in Saxony. The highlight of the programme, which features live music and great food and drink, is the spectacular firework display at midnight. A children's firework display at 8pm ensures the younger visitors won't miss out. Be sure to book your tickets early!

Top tip: there are lots of different places where you can get 2015 off to a relaxing start in the Saxony region. The traditional spa resort of Bad Elster, which harnesses the benefits of the local mineral-rich mud, and the hydrotherapy resort of Bad Schandau are just two of your many options.

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If you are looking for an unforgettable Christmas experience in Germany, be sure to visit the Black Forest on the weekends between 29 November and 21 December. The Upper Black Forest Christmas market is set against the magical backdrop of the Ravenna gorge, where the 40-metre-high viaduct of the Höllentalbahn railway is lit up in spectacular style – with light art installations. Other features of the market include stalls selling regional wares, food and drink from the Black Forest and an illuminated fairytale trail.

The Black Forest has countless traditions and customs that give the region its unique character. It is the home of the famous cuckoo clock, the red pompom hat, Black Forest farmhouses and Black Forest gateau.

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On the weekends of 5 and 12 December 2014, you can get into the festive spirit at the Christkindlmarkt at Schloss Oelber in Lower Saxony. Held in the castle's former stables and stud farm, it is the region's largest indoor Christmas market. Handicrafts, atmospheric music, regional winter specialities and the Christmas circus are just some of the highlights on offer.

Did you know? Lower Saxony is Germany's only federal state that combines both the sea and the mountains. It really does have something for everyone. As well as the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea and Germany's most northerly mountain range, the Harz, it boasts fantastic cities such as Hannover, Braunschweig and Lüneburg, and Heide Park Resort in Soltau, home to the world's biggest wooden rollercoaster.

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