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Leipzig small pleasures

With an internationally recognised orchestra and successful football club, Leipzig scores highly for culture among locals and newcomers alike, who enjoy its low cost of living and compact size. Wendy Atkins reports.

Nicknamed ‘the new Berlin’, Leipzig is a big hitter in Germany when it comes to sports and culture. Residents say they like the city’s compact size, dynamic atmosphere, range of events and outdoor spaces, and employers say this reputation is helping them attract the right talent.

Leipzig is a city of music and culture, including a concert hall, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, which employs 273 people, including 185 musicians. Its multi-award-winning orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester, has the global clout to attract international names such as Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director, Andris Nelsons, who in 2018 will also take over as conductor at Leipzig. 

Gereon Röckrath, administrative director at the Gewandhaus, says Leipzig’s citizens have traditionally had a close relationship with the orchestra, which continues to this day, while “the international reputation of the orchestra is a magnet for many tourists”.

Happy anniversaries

The coming year will be a significant one for the city. “As part of the 275th anniversary of the Gewandhausorchester and the 325th anniversary of Leipzig’s opera house, numerous musical highlights are set for 2018, including festival week at the Gewandhaus,” says Leipzig tourism and marketing chief executive Volker Bremer.

“The opera will host a number of major events, including a Puccini weekend and a Verdi weekend, performances of Richard Wagner’s the Ring of the Nibelung as part of the Wagner festival as well as an anniversary weekend. Additionally, there will be Bach festival and open air concerts as well as a Boston week,” he adds. “There will also be a number of events to commemorate 1989’s peaceful revolution that started in Leipzig and led to the collapse of East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party dictatorship."

Mr Röckrath believes the value of a high-quality and international cultural offering such as the Gewandhaus should not be underestimated. “This ‘soft’ location factor is important. A 2015 survey by HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management discovered that the Gewandhaus generates nearly €40m,” he says.

Leipzig also scores well for sports, parks and outdoor leisure facilities. The rise of its football team, RB Leipzig, has helped put the city on the sporting map. “Ever since RB qualified for the German National League and reached the UEFA Champions League, thousands of fans have visited Leipzig,” says Mr Bremer.

From pits to ponds

Meanwhile, a 'lakescape' is emerging from former strip mining pits on the edge of the city, which is proving popular with residents. “In the summer there are many nice lakes for water skiing, kite surfing and wakeboarding,” says Ceyhun Derinboğaz, product development manager at energy solutions company OC3.

The city scores well for Mr Derinboğaz, who relocated from Istanbul in 2015. “I really like living here. It’s not too crowded and getting about is easy,” he says. “When I first came, friends asked, ‘Are you sure you want to go to eastern Germany? Will people treat you badly?’ I’d never been to eastern Germany before, but I’ve found the people here to be very nice and really well educated.”

Another relative newcomer is Marilu Valente, co-founder of Binee, an electronics waste recycling company. She enjoys the easy access to facilities and lower cost of living, which helps create a good work/life balance. “Everyone has more time for social activities and Leipzig does not fall short on events. It’s a relatively small city, but there’s a lot going on,” she says.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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