Hannover stunning city of surprises

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Boredom isn’t an option in this vibrant German city.

When it comes to leisure there can be few cities as diverse and attractive as Hannover. Here, in the capital of the state of Lower Saxony, you can stroll through the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, enjoy world class shopping in the pedestrianised streets, and the Maschsee Lake has an almost Mediterranean feel with perfect walking or picnicking terrain.

Hannover’s lively city centre has an extensive pedestrian zone and a series of elegant arcades and shopping malls. In the Old Town quarter you can stroll through narrow medieval streets and relax on the banks of the River Leine or in one of the countless cafs.

Lovers of the Arts come from all over the world for the city’s theatres and concerts as well as the outstanding offerings of its art galleries and its numerous museums and noted buildings. Among the annual events that attract visitors in their thousands are the Maschsee Lake Festival and the biggest Marksmen’s Funfair in the world.

So, if you fancy an autumn or winter break, what can you expect?

Well, you might enjoy the GOP Variety-Theatre Germany’s most traditional variety theatre. With modern shows from international artistes the GOP has real cult status. In terms of museums, check out the Sprengel with its 20th and 21st Century works. Then there’s the kestnergesellschaft, the Kunstverein (Arts Association) and the Ahlers Pro Arte/Kestner Pro Arte Foundation.

In the historic Old Town you’ll find timber-framed buildings, the imposing Market Church and the Old Town Hall the most southerly examples of the redbrick Gothic style which is typical of northern Germany.

The Marienburg Castle is the former summer residence of the Guelph dynasty. It lies on the outskirts of Hannover.

For a spot of retail therapy take in the pedestrian precinct it’s one of the most popular shopping venues in Germany and hardly any other city boasts such a high concentration of shopping malls and arcades, specialist stores and eateries. Every conceivable type of shop is represented within a radius of just 400 metres.

Opposite the Opera House haute couture and high-class jewellery attract shoppers to Georgstrasse, the exclusive boulevard where the people of Hannover love to stroll.

And everywhere there are restaurants, bistros and cafs, where you can relax and recharge the batteries. Shopping in the area around the Market Church is a particular pleasure, where the half-timbered houses of the Old Town, the boutiques, art galleries and authentic pubs are just charming.

The flea market on the banks of the Leine is a must every Saturday. The shops in Hannover and in 20 towns and villages in the surrounding area are open most Sundays throughout the year.

“The Red Thread”

The Red Thread, painted on the pavement, is 4,200 metres long, and weaves its way through the inner city joining up 36 prime attractions.

Following it allows you to do your own DIY city tour, and there is an informative brochure which describes all of the interesting buildings and monuments you encounter along the way. The brochure describes an “ExtraTour” which is a 45-minute detour to the banks of Lake Maschsee.

The brochure is available for €3 from the tourist information office opposite the central railway station and the Infocounter in the New Town Hall, Trammplatz 2.

Oktoberfest

Autumn in Hannover will be white and blue the colours of Bavaria. For 17 days the Schtzenplatz fairground is given over to festivities in the Bavarian tradition. Expect lots of beer and regional folk dances performed in traditional costume.

The Munich “Wiesn” runs this year from Sep 27-Oct 13.

Christmas

During Advent Hannover is transformed into a winter wonderland with sparkling lights and opulently decorated trees, accompanied by the fragrance of mulled wine and gingerbread. From the end of November, Christmas markets in the historic Old Town, in front of the main station, along Lister Meile and throughout the whole region will get you into the festive spirit. The air is filled with the sound of seasonal music and irresistible aromas and the streets and squares are lined with stalls selling hand-carved toys, unique jewellery and beautiful Christmas baubles.

And who can resist the treat of deep-fried pastries, mulled wine or a delicious baked apple? Visitors to the Finnish Christmas village could almost believe they were in Lapland thanks to genuine Sami tents where you can buy arts and crafts or sample Nordic specialities such as flambed salmon. In the Wishing Well Wood fir trees and forester’s cottages create a fairy-tale atmosphere in the midst of the historic Old Town. Kids will also love seeing St Nicholas paying his traditional visit.

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