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The Lichter, die verzaubern sound and light installation on Kohlmarkt square in Braunschweig runs until 13 February 2015. Every Friday at around 6.30pm, the facades of the houses are bathed in coloured light to the accompaniment of atmospheric music – a must-see winter spectacle for any visitor to Braunschweig.

And Braunschweig, Germany's City of Science for 2007, has plenty of other attractions: the Guelph palace, the cobbled streets and pretty half-timbered houses of the Magni quarter, and the extraordinary Happy RIZZI Haus designed by New York artist James Rizzi. This winter, experience all that Braunschweig has to offer.

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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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The numerous spas and health resorts on the North Sea and Baltic coast offer relaxation for body and mind.

Thalassotherapy, for example, harnesses the benefits of the sea to relieve various complaints. The seaside resort of Heringsdorf, on the island of Usedom in Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, excels in this form of therapy and has been presented with the Premium Thalasso Europe Award. And on the islands of Föhr and Pellworm in Schleswig-Holstein, you can look forward to a wide-ranging programme of relaxing treatments using mud baths, mud packs and saltwater baths. Spoil yourself in the far north of Germany and replenish your energy for the new year!

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Between 7 and 11 January 2015, top athletes from around the world will once again be lining up for the Biathlon World Cup in Oberhof in Thuringia. As well as the exciting individual races and mass starts, the diverse programme encompasses backstage tours and shooting events.

And there's plenty of sport to be enjoyed by non-participants as well. Oberhof and its surroundings are home to the famous Rennsteig walking trail and the Gipfelwanderweg, or Peaks' Trail, which takes in seven hills over 900 metres high. And in addition to downhill skiing, winter brings lots of opportunities to enjoy cross-country skiing on marked routes. Did you know that Thuringia offers 16,000 kilometres of marked walking trails (22 of them with premium status), 13 long-distance cycle routes and over 80 approved accommodation providers?

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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 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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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 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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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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