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Culture

Germany's Top Five

International or local, day or night, sport or culture; Germany has it all this week. Japan and Africa festivals on the Rhine, a long museum night in Hamburg, a good bar-hop in Leipzig ... read on for details.

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Partying Africa-style in Würzburg

Rhein in Flammen

Fireworks over the Rhine

Did you know that Europe's largest Japanese population resides in Düsseldorf? The city on the Rhine river celebrates its ties to Japan each spring with an annual Japanese folk festival and fireworks display. This year, on May 28, sparks will start flying around dusk (9.30 p.m.) The display promises to be massive and the river provides a panoramic setting for the spectacle, as does the backdrop of the new "media mile," with its shiny Frank Gehry buildings. If you get in town earlier in the day, check out the Japanese folk festival, which promises children's activities, food, and performances. But don't forget the key ingredient in local Düsseldorf culture: the famous Altbier, a rich, deep brown brew.

Africa Festival Mainz JULIAN MARLEY

JULIAN MARLEY Photo: © Bugs Steffen

Europe's largest festival of African music takes place in Germany each year at Corpus Christi -- this year, on May 26. The festivities are held along the banks of the Main river, in the beautiful Baroque city of Würzburg, northern Bavaria. Since it began in 1989, over 1000 musicians have performed before enthusiastic audiences. Over 120,000 spectators attended in 2004. Acrobats, dancers and DJs add to the entertainment, while films, a market, craft stalls, delicious food and children's entertainment should keep the non-musical happy.

Erotikmuseum Hamburg Lange Nacht der Museum Hamburg

Erotic Museum Hamburg

Hamburg hosts its annual Long Night of Museums, which draws around 30,000 visitors every year. Around 30 museums will remain open through the evening and even past midnight; expect to find events like talks and dance parties in the lobbies. The popularity of such "long nights" shows the interest in museum-going among people who can't visit during the day, or simply like to be out and about in the city with like-minded folks. Five shuttle bus lines connect the clusters of museums scattered around the city, so visitors can make their own itinerary among a diverse array of institutions. Look to Hamburg's main museums, the Kunsthalle and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, to be leading participants. Still, Hamburg boasts one of the most interesting groups of small museums in Europe, and these should make the Long Night especially interesting for many visitors. Museums devoted to subjects as diverse as labor, communication, spices and erotica are certain to harbor fascinating surprises.

34. Spieltag der Fussballbundesliga: Bremen gegen Schalke, Ailton

Schalke's Ailton

FC Schalke 04 or Bayern München? German's top two teams will go head to head -- or toe to toe -- on May 28 in the DFB Cup Final, the endgame of the German Football Association. The game will take place in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Please visit the venue website to reserve tickets -- and be quick about it. They usually sell out fast.

Night owls gather in Leipzig each year in May for the Honky Tonk Pub Festival. This year, Europe's biggest pub festival is on Saturday, May 28. The concept is simple: one ticket gets you access to over 80 live music events in participating venues all over the city. So not matter whether you're a fan of blues, jazz, funk, reggae, soul or swing, there'll be something to suit every musical taste. The Leipzig event is just one of around 50 Honky Tonk festivals that take place in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but it's by far the biggest and best. Tickets cost 8.50 euros in advance, or 10 euros at the door, and it all gets started at 6 p.m.

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