Bielefeld lies in hilly country and offers a range of interesting opportunities for relaxation, sports, and leisure. The botanical garden, a Japanese Garden, the Olderdissen animal park, along with 4,800 hectares of forest and 580 kilometers of walking trails in the Teutoburg Forest provide the diversified setting for an attractive urban landscape. Spacious pedestrian precincts between the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) and the Sparrenburg castle, Bielefeld's landmark, have helped the city become a popular shopping destination. The cityscape is characterized by historical buildings from its industrial past along with modern architecture and extensive parks and green belts.
Culturally, Bielefeld has much to offer as well. The Theater Bielefeld attracts lovers of classical theatre, opera, modern dance and musicals from well beyond the borders of Eastern Westphalia. Friends of classical music delight in the outstanding acoustics of the Rudolf-Oetker Concert Hall. Bielefeld's museums offer a varied and contrasting program with interesting special exhibitions throughout the year.
However, Bielefeld's cultural life gets its dynamism and avant-garde character from a couple of smaller independent stages, where cultural events such as the International Theatre Festival 360º or the Bielefeld Dance Festival are hosted each year. The Bielefeld Night of Museums, Churches and Galleries and the Day of Open Ateliers are other occasions where the vibrant character of Bielefeld's independent art scene and the mix of sub-cultural and mainstream culture is celebrated by regional and international young and emerging artists.
The multicultural side of Bielefeld you can best experience at the colourful Carnival of Cultures, which was modelled after the famous Notting Hill Carnival 12 years ago and takes place every year in summer.
Other highlights among the open-air events include the Leineweber Street Fair in May, the Sparrenburg Castle Festival with its medieval fair in July, and the Bielefeld Summer of Culture held from May to September in the most beautiful city squares. The Bielefeld Wine Festival in September and the Christmas Market starting at the end of November bring the year to a festive close.