Field Trip #1: Hannover

Michelle Langan finds a Hannover full to the brim with art, culture, and weiner schnitzel…

There’s nothing more welcoming than being greeted by a Christmas Market in full swing. On leaving the train station, it was all mulled wine, gingerbread and German sausage…Hannover, I love you already! Despite the festive pull, it’s not the shopping that brings us here. We’re here to take part in this year’s Up and Coming Film Festival, where a host of young filmmakers from across the world are brought together to see each other’s work and hopefully bag an award into the bargain. Our film, Trading Places, was made by a group of teenagers from Archbishop Beck College, and it’s thrilling to see the film shown alongside works from (amongst other places) Japan, Sweden, Norway, and America.

The films are all written and directed by young people, and it’s inspiring to see how their ideas are translated, with the added element of a language barrier. We take in some real gems over the weekend, including a fab documentary about a young boy in Santiago, supporting his family by drumming on the streets – brilliant, stirring stuff. The festival is definitely worth checking out, and takes place each year at the end of November, which seems a perfect time to visit Hannover.

As well as happily OD’ing on film, you can fill your bags with that aforementioned Christmas booty – back to those markets again – several of which are scattered across the town. Our favourite, which offered real variety, was in the Market Square. Wooden carved toys, handmade felt goods and German snacks all make lovely presents, especially at this time of year. We’re certainly getting better at this type of thing in the UK; but take it from us, Hannover is where it’s at.

If you get bored of shopping, and fancy a bit more culture, the helpful people of the city have made it easy. A red line – or the red thread, as it is known – runs through the city, highlighting 36 areas of interest. The line starts at the main station, and each landmark is numbered. Sights of note include the Gehry tower – designed by Frank, he of Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum; the Aegidienkirche, the ghostly shell of a bombed out church (with unmistakable echoes of our own St. Luke’s), a poignant reminder of the bombings of World War II; and the Kestner Museum, housing various antiquities and Egyptian artefacts.

Another place worth a look if you have time is Marienburg Castle (Schloss Marienburg). It has wonderful gardens to explore, and a guided tour of the Harry Potter-esque interior takes about an hour. Make sure you check opening hours in advance, as the castle closes for part of winter.

The French sculptor, painter, and film-maker Niki de Saint Phalle, was the first, and so far, only woman, to receive the freedom of the city of Hannover. In addition, she has the dubious honour of a new shopping promenade named after her, and also has some of her most famous sculptures, the Nanas, on permanent display at the picturesque Royal Herrenhauser gardens. Well worth a wander around on a spare afternoon.

There’s plenty to squeeze in during a weekend here, so much so, we didn’t have enough time to see everything. Oh well, just means we’ll have to go back. See you there, same time, next year.

Michelle Langan

Up and Coming photograph courtesy of Franz Fender

Posted on 14/12/2011 by thedoublenegative