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Locals love Hanover (spelt 'Hannover' in German) for the low cost of living; good public transport; wealth of museums, theatre, live music and other arts and cultural events; and the city's proximity to green spaces. The spectacularly Baroque Herrenhäuser Gärten, the constructed Lake Maschsee and the Eilenriede, Europe's largest urban forest, are all close at hand. That said, most Germans groan at the first mention of Hanover, whose dialect is regarded as the closest tongue to High German. Perhaps it's a complex socio-linguistic thing – or perhaps they're just jealous of the laid-back lifestyle.

Hanover lacks the high profile of neighbouring Hanse city-states Hamburg and Bremen, and first appearances admittedly mightn't knock you off your feet, but spend a little time here and you'll soon be charmed.

The city swells in April and June, when its mammoth computer and technology trade fairs CeBit and Hannover Messe each attract more than 200,000 visitors.

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