• DER Tours has announced its winter packages, including escorted Christmas Market tours, for 1998. The Famous Christmas Tour begins November 29 in Munich and ends December 6 in Salzburg or Munich, your choice. Markets visited include Munich, Innsbruck, Rothenburg, Nürnberg and Salzburg. Cost is $746 and includes six nights accommodations, breakfasts, two dinners, motorcoach ground transport, entrance fee to sights. Hotels are the Forum in Munich, the Altes Brauhaus in Rothenburg and the Hotel Dorint in Salzburg.

The Festive Christmas Market package uses Munich as a headquarters for day-trips. It costs $825 but replaces one of the dinners with a Glühwein reception. Sightseeing includes Oberammergau, Linderhof Castle, Rothenburg, Munich's Nymphenburg Palace, Nürnberg and Salzburg. Choose either the Regent or the King's Hotel, both in Munich.

DER also offers an array of other packages, many of which include in air and rental car. The Austria Ski As You Please, for example, ranges in price from $990 to $1275, depending on the dates chosen, and includes seven nights at the Novotel Salzburg, a midsize rental car, and all breakfasts and dinners. Two drinks are even included with dinner. Skiing is optional.

These and other packages, as well as hotel vouchers, are detailed in DER's 1998/99 Winter Holidays brochure. Contact your travel agent or phone DER at 800-937-1236 for the brochure.

• LTU, the "other" German airline, introduces a new class of service - First Comfort - on November 1.

First Comfort will have a 2-2-2 configuration with three rows of seats. The nonsmoking cabin will offer leather seats, 42-inch seat pitch (space between rows), adjustable foot and headrests. Passengers will be given a Sony Video Walkman with a choice of 20 movie titles.

Ft. Myers, Florida, will host LTU's First Comfort debut. LTU says First Comfort will "eventually" be introduced to the airline's other U.S. gateways: Miami, New York, Orlando and Los Angeles. Roundtrip First Comfort from Ft. Myers to Germany is $1698 plus tax. Contact: 800-888-0200.

Expo2000 Hannover is scheduled for June 1 through October 31, 2000. Tickets for the event are already on sale. Day tickets are 69 DM ($38), afternoon tickets are 49 DM ($27) and evening tickets are 24 DM ($13). A seven-day pass is 434 DM ($241). Tickets will be good on Hannover's local transportation system. Book tickets at +49/2000 or see their website at www.expo2000.de.

Organizers expect 300,000 visitors daily and some 40 million overall. The 1893 Chicago World Fair drew 27.5 million visitors.

To date, some 35 countries have reserved pavilion space.

• Munich's Oktoberfest opens September 19 and closes October 4. If you're stuck for accommodations you might try the tourist office at tel.+49/89/2330300, fax 23330233.

Heidelberger Herbst (Heidelberg's Old Town autumn festival) is September 26. Contact: Heidelberg Marketing tel. +49/06221/19433, fax 167318.

• Stuttgart's Cannstatt Folk Festival, Germany's second largest folk event is September 26 through October 11. Contact: Stuttgart Marketing GmbH., tel. +49/0711/2228240, fax 2228217.

Virtuoso offers what it calls Private Label Lufthansa/Rheinland-Pfalz travel packages. Billed as "exclusive, customized trips to Europe's great wine regions," the deal consists of what API describes as "exquisitely detailed, self-drive programs with scenic drives and luxurious accommodations as well as privileged access into private homes and remarkable wine cellars."

The package includes roundtrip economy airfare on Lufthansa, use of a Mercedes Benz S230, deluxe accommodations at "elegant" castle hotels (Burghotel AufSchönburg in Oberwesel and the Historische Schlossmühle in Horbruck, for example), personal assistance at the Frankfurt Airport, visits to the region's best-known wine cellars, reservations at premier restaurants, and a detailed daily itinerary with driving directions, maps and sightseeing suggestions. Prices for this eight-day, seven-night, self-drive tour start at $2,999 per person double occupancy ($3,299 from West Coast, Business class is $5,999 and first class is $7,899 from New York). Contact: 800-401-4274.

August 1998