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If you fancy taking part in a walking event with a difference, then the 'Ab ins Grüne' walking festival on 24 and 25 May 2014 is just for you! Held in nature parks all over Germany, it will include special events and tours run by expert guides, who will give walkers fascinating and surprising insights into nature. The idea of the event is to bring people together to experience nature and make new discoveries. A birdwatching excursion in the Bavarian Forest is one of the highlights on offer.

This event coincides with the European Day of Parks, which is being held throughout Europe on 24 May. Be sure to join in the fun!

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Enjoy a night of industrial culture at ExtraSchicht on 28 June 2014. This fantastic event was launched in 2001 to showcase the arts scene of the Ruhr region in an unusual setting and to highlight the Ruhr's transformation from a region of heavy industry to a modern hub of commerce and culture.

On one night every summer, various locations – including former industrial plants, active production sites, collieries and slagheaps – are transformed into spectacular venues for some 2,000 artists. The UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein Coal Mine in Essen is one of the 50 venues in the 25 towns and cities taking part.

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The Schleswig-Holstein region is ideal for cycling and can be explored on several long-distance cycle routes. One of the most enjoyable routes starts at the Danish border and runs for 300km along the North Sea coast as far as Hamburg. It is part of the North Sea Cycle Route that passes through a number of countries, starting in Norway and ending in England. At 6,000km, it is the longest waymarked cycle route in the world.

In Schleswig-Holstein, the North Sea Cycle Route passes through a wealth of beautiful natural landscapes. These include the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea, which is both a National Park and UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, and everything else you would expect in this region of Germany: dykes, heathland, sand dunes, beaches and lighthouses.

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A modern, cosmopolitan city with a big heart and a long heritage, as suave as it is easygoing, buzzing and yet tranquil. Munich is Germany's lifestyle capital. The Munich Opera Festival has been taking place for more than 130 years and again promises to be an event to remember for all opera fans.

This year's festival, which runs from 27 June to 31 July, gets under way with the premiere of Gioachino Rossini's William Tell, directed by Antú Romero Nunes. Another new production, Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, will premiere on 20 July. Chamber concerts, lieder evenings and two Opera for All performances are also part of the programme.

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Potsdam is best known for the magnificent palaces and parks that date back to its time as the former royal seat of Prussia. If you would like to see the city's sights from a different perspective, travel aboard the Weisse Flotte pleasure boats and enjoy views of the palaces from the water. The tours pass all the main sights that lie along the city's waterways including Babelsberg Park and Palace, the Flatowturm tower and the New Garden.

The 90-minute tours run daily until November. You can also do the tour on a steamboat.

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A wide-ranging programme of concerts will be taking place at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach between 18 July and 23 August 2014 as part of the MDR Summer of Music. As well as piano and violin concerts, there will be an opportunity to enjoy the sounds of the Weimar Wind Quintet. Wartburg Castle, founded in the 11th century, has a unique atmosphere and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary lived in the castle in the 13th century, and it was here that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German in the 16th century.

The MDR Summer of Music will also be held at other venues in Thuringia, as well as in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

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The Heidelberg Castle Festival is being held from 15 June to 2 August 2014 and celebrates its 40th birthday this year. The festival actually dates back much further than that, but was interrupted because of the Second World War. If you would like to be part of this traditional festival, you could watch the production of Robin Hood, for example, which offers something for all the family, or the story of the Three Musketeers. The programme also features a series of high-calibre concerts.

Those who stay just a little longer will discover a host of attractions away from the beaten track and will have more time to soak up the unique atmosphere that sets Heidelberg apart from other university cities.

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You don't have to be a nature lover to enjoy the Regional Garden Show (Landesgartenschau) in the Swabian town of Gmünd, which opened on 30 April and runs until 12 October 2014. The event emphasises the town's unique character through its theme: 'The Green Ribbon – new ties between town and country'. The area's distinct atmosphere and almost mediterranean lifestyle are successfully captured in the garden show's projects, its displays of plants and flowers and its green spaces. Water becomes an exciting element of urban design. For younger visitors there is also a park for games and events that is right next to the railway, plus a fascinating woodland discovery trail through the dramatic Taubental valley. A great place for a family day out!

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The annual Handel Festival in Halle an der Saale is the biggest music festival in the Saxony-Anhalt region. Every year it presents a programme that is as captivating as it is varied.

Events get under way on 5 June 2014 with an opening concert in Halle's market church and culminate two weeks later on 15 June 2014 with a finale of music and fireworks. At least one Handel opera and one guest production will feature in the festival performances. There will also be a recital of works by composers from Saxony-Anhalt who have close links to Handel. The festival's declared aim is to bring audiences closer to Handel's oeuvre.

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Every year during Pentecost, the International Street Performance Festival (Internationales Kleinkunstfestival) brings a touch of magic to Usedom island. From 6 to 9 June 2014, up to 27 groups comprising a total 38 performers from 14 countries will compete in a thrilling contest in front of spectators and a panel of experts. During the festival, the seafront promenade at Heringsdorf is transformed into a long, lively and vibrant open-air festival stage right on the edge of the Baltic Sea. Year after year, visitors to Usedom are enthralled by magicians, comedians, mime artists, street performers, fire jugglers and all kinds of other entertainers.

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