Cheltenham has been twinned with the town of Göttingen in the southern part of lower Saxony since 1951, when in the post-war period, friendship exchange schemes between young people of the two countries were promoted. The link has flourished ever since. Numerous exchanges have taken place, hundreds of people have visited Göttingen, and lasting friendships have developed.
As would be expected from a friendship spanning such a long period of time, many strong links have been forged between clubs, societies and organisations of all kinds. However, the most notable feature of the Cheltenham – Göttingen twinning link is the ‘Big Party’ or ‘Festival’ Visits, which started in 1976. These involve groups in excess of 100 people visiting Cheltenham and Göttingen alternately every other year.
2015 marked the 64th anniversary of the twinning link between the two towns and over 80 Cheltenham citizens visited Göttingen in July to mark this occasion, together with 60 members of the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra. These visits are open to everyone and have recently included members of Cheltenham Art Club, jazz musicians, singers, youngsters from a local youth club and council officers working alongside their colleagues for a week. A main feature of these visits is that most visitors stay in the homes of local families and many new contacts and friendships are formed during these successful twinning weeks. If you are interested in taking part in the next visit please contact the Twinning Officer for further information.
During these two yearly visits, the future of twinning with Göttingen is reviewed and a co-operation agreement for the development of the twinning link is developed.
Göttingen lies halfway between Hamburg and Frankfurt, near to the Harz mountains. The city dates back to 953. Göttingen was granted city status in 1964 and now has a population of around 130,000. It is also the home of one of Germany’s leading universities. A well known Göttingen tradition is that every new graduate must kiss the famous bronze ‘Goose Girl’ on the fountain in the market square – making her the most kissed girl in Germany!
Like Cheltenham, Göttingen is renowned for its annual Music Festivals, especially the Handel Festival and the International Organ Festival, as well as its Jazz Festival and Arts Fairs. It is also famous for its two theatres – ‘the Deutsches Theater’ and the ‘Junges Theater’.
It is a young, lively city. Over 65% of its population are under 45 years and enjoy visiting the pavement cafes in the pedestrianised shopping area and listening to the street musicians, or strolling in Cheltenham Park. It is also a city of history, with its imposing old Town Hall, Gothic churches and old half-timbered buildings, and a city of fun, with the old Town Festival and the Shooting Festival.
Göttingen is the economic centre of commerce and industry in southern Lower Saxony. Many of the industries have developed from activities at the university, for example the precision engineering and optical industries.