Danes Blow the Old Year Away With a Bang
YOU’VE NEVER SEEN FIREWORKS LIKE THIS BEFORE
Godt Nytår! That’s Danish for Happy New Year! And dang it, Danes celebrate the turning of the calendar like nowhere I’ve ever been. And I’ve seen New Year’s Eve in a few places around the planet. (Sydney you were pretty good too.) But here, in Denmark, it’s difficult to describe. It’s different and delightful and downright LOUD. These normally rule-following, structured and peaceful peeps throw a no-holds-barred kind of colorful chaotic cacophony to welcome the brand new baby new year.
If you’ve been here on December 31st, you know. If you’re Danish, you know. This year we are celebrating our fifth New Year’s Eve in Denmark. And by now, I think we know! Any and all future end of year celebrations will pale in comparison to Copenhagen’s. Come see why and how to usher in the new year like a Dane. This is a little louder than your average hygge. But if fireworks are your thing, I reckon you’ll be more than happy.
Start the Day at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
HOLIDAYS SPARKLE AT THIS COPENHAGEN GEM
If you’ve never been to the iconic Tivoli Gardens, there is no better time than New Year’s Eve. Believe it or not, the park isn’t that crowded during the day on the 31st. Lines for rides flow smoothly and with darkness descending around 3:00 pm, there is plenty of time to enjoy the twinkly lights of a holiday season in Copenhagen. The Tivoli Julemarked, or Christmas market, will still be standing and the delicious Danish gløgg still pouring.
Tivoli’s famous Fireworks show runs several nights during the holiday season. Check the website to validate current times, but the New Year’s Eve show usually blasts at 11:00 pm on the last day of the year. Three hours at the park is plenty to explore when the weather is chilly, so plan your Tivoli time accordingly if you want to see the fireworks and prioritize quicker queues. Crowds start piling in the gates between 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm and then the lines get decidedly longer.
RELATED: ALWAYS TIME FOR TIVOLI
Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
Entrance: Humans aged 8+ | 130 DKK, add an unlimited ride bracelet for 240 DKK
Human Children aged 3-7 | 60 DKK
TIP: The best gløgg (a Scandinavian spiced mulled wine) in the park can be found at Gløggkompaniet, across from the Hans Christian Andersen ride and near the entrance to the Dæmon. Splurge and try the VIP version – so tasty. It just might be the “verdens bedste gløgg” as they claim. (The world’s best gløgg.) And don’t miss the traditional flæskesteg sandwich. Or get your hand stamped and enter the new Tivoli Food Hall and warm up with many options for everyone in your group.
WANT TO STAY WHERE THE ACTION IS?
Try renting an apartment near the Lakes with Airbnb. First-time users get 150DKK off all reservations of 500DKK or more. Click here to use discount code.
Danish New Year’s Eve Starts at 6:00 PM
DANES GATHER TO WATCH THE QUEEN’S SPEECH
New Year’s Eve is not a public holiday in Denmark, so many Danes still have to work if it falls on a weekday. But most everyone will be off in time to get all gussied up and make it out to their parties. Most Danish gatherings begin by raising a glass and tuning in to reigning Queen Margrethe’s speech every December 31st at 6:00 pm – televised live on local channels. This tradition stems back to the 1880s when the King gave a speech on January 1st as a “toast to the fatherland.”
Every monarch since has continued the tradition. Especially significant was the 1942 speech, during Germany’s occupancy of Denmark during WWII when then King Christian X repeated the entreaty his predecessor set before him “Gud bevare Danmark!” God preserve Denmark. Even if you don’t understand Danish, when in Denmark, do as the Danes do and tune in, even if for a bit. You’ll know it’s time to toast when you hear the Queen refrain,
Gud bevare Danmark!” | God preserve Denmark
– Queen Margrethe II
Dinner With Friends
In Denmark, Christmas is for family, every last extended bit of it, for which Danes designate a full three days. But New Year’s Eve is for friends (and family if you choose). Parties are planned months in advance, tuxes are pressed, pretty dresses procured and funny hats donned. New Year’s in Denmark is a fairly fancy affair. After a toast to the Queen, it is now time for dinner. Traditional dishes of yore would have involved different renditions of cod, but modern Danes have more flexibility for feasting and many restaurants and shops offer take away menus to enjoy in your own home.
RELATED: HOW TO INVITE DANES TO A PARTY
Countdown and Leap Into The New Year
When the clock nears midnight, tv’s across the country tune into Denmark’s version of the Times Square ball drop. But before the bells chime at Copenhagen’s Town Hall, much of Denmark watches a quirky slapstick 1963 black and white film short called “Dinner for One,” or “90-års Fødselsdagen” in Danish. I may have seen more than one reveler with the same gait come the wee minutes of the new year.
Same procedure as last year Miss Sophie?”
“Same procedure as every year James.”
– Dinner for One
Then, when the countdown begins, you must find a place to jump off of, as Danes literally jump into the new year. You may see people climbing on chairs and atop sofas or coffee tables for 3, 2, 1! Jump! Godt Nytår! Happy New Year! Hopefully, they aren’t as toasty as James. *Wink, wink.
Kransekage and Champagne
Raise a glass of champagne. Kiss your closest! Cut the kransekage. If you know Danes, there must be cake. And kransekage is the delicious Danish cake served at New Years. A marzipan based batter is baked into consecutively larger rings and layered in a tower decorated simply with piped white icing and Danish flags, of course. I love the kransekage and am still trying to work a recipe from my friend’s mormor, or grandmother.
Blast Your Fireworks
Now comes the real fun. For me anyway. People spill out onto the streets all over the city and it’s time to light the fireworks. In Denmark, you can see the professional fireworks display at Tivoli, but for me, the real show is on every street out in the city all around you. For weeks leading up to the 31st, it is legal to buy professional grade fireworks from tented purveyors all over town. Shooting them off is only allowed and legal for four days between December 29th to January 1st. But almost anyone and everyone can and will and does during that time. Starting sometimes before the sun dips under the horizon on the 31st, you will see and hear fireworks all over Copenhagen.
The real crazy truly ramps up at around 12:15 am, when all the traditions have been toasted and chairs have been jumped off and Danes in their tuxes and heels and chemistry class safety goggles start lighting up the night. We love to watch the display from The Lakes in the center of the city. It is all kinds of insane and amazing and terrifying and terrific at the same time. There is truly nothing like New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen. I love it. Godt Nytår! Skål! Cheers from here. Come to Copenhagen, she said.
NOTE: Make sure to wear protective glasses when out on New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen. Safety first!
Have you been to Copenhagen for New Year’s Eve? What did you think? I’m for jumping right into a new year and doing it as loudly as possible! Skål!
(Originally posted January 2018, updated December 2019)
52 thoughts on “Copenhagen has the Best New Year’s Eve in the World”
If you are still there next year! I will be there!
That’s so funny that even the Danes love Dinner for One! The Germans looooooooooooove it too, yet I’ve still never seen it! The funny thing is, I’ve always heard it’s practically unheard of in the English speaking world! Happy New Year!! #FarawayFiles
I had heard it was popular in Germany too! It’s fairly hilarious in a slapstick faux-drunk way! Not sure the connection to NYE though!?
Honestly no idea why they love it and where it originated
Wow! They sure know how to throw a party in Copenhagen! What a fantastic way to see in the NY! We spent it in Goa. Managed to keep the boys up to 10pm and then us parents flaked at 11pm 😉 #farawayfiles
Ha! We were lucky living on the West Coast of the US when our kids were little – could watch the NYC ball drop at 9pm local time, do some poppers, light a sparkler and call it good! I don’t know how people get their littles to sleep in our neighborhood- it is like a war zone out there and the fireworks go until nearly 2am! I love it though and with everything shut down the next day, there’s plenty of time to catch up on sleep! Happy New Year from Denmark!
Fantastisk! What a celebration. Of course the Danes know how to do it with the right mix of craziness and decorum. I’d love to join in the festivities one day. Now what to jump off?! #FarawayFiles
I find that part slightly daunting in heels and a dress! Especially with a slightly bum ankle! I think I might keep it to a pop off the curb or just a step stool? Copenhagen rocks on NYE. Second best was probably Sydney down at The Rocks and the fireworks off the Harbor Bridge – epic. How does Melbourne do New Year’s?
I love tivoli and imagine it’s a great place to start nye
It’s all sorts of charming! Cheers from Copenhagen!
They are amazing here! Happy New Year!
The Tivoli Gardens look beautiful at this time of year, I would like to visit one day! It sounds like the Danes like their fireworks as much as the Austrians do! #FarawayFiles
Tivoli is adorable in every season, but especially charming at Christmas and New Year’s. So do they allow personal fireworks in Austria as well?!
The fireworks remind me of Vienna on New Years. It was total chaos all over the city. Fireworks, noise, and total mayhem. Much different than the five minutes of banging pots and pans on the porch that I grew up with in Seattle. #farawayfiles
Someone else just posted that Austrians love New Years Eve and fireworks too – time to check that out I think! The fireworks off the Space Needle are pretty epic though! Happy New Year from Denmark!
Wow! That’s a fun way to bring in the new year. We have never been to Copenhagen for New Year’s Eve – maybe next year! #FarawayFiles
I love the idea of jumping into the New Year! I must remember to try that one year – provided I haven’t drunk too much Champagne to injure myself while jumping! Great reading about new year’s in Copenhagen. Sounds like a lot of fun! #FarawayFiles
That is my concern as well! Seems slightly ill-advised for those in a certain state! But a metaphorical jump in to the new year – I can definitely endorse! Cheers from Copenhagen Clare!
Wow, Copenhagen looks like an absolutely amazing place to be for New Year’s! I love the jumping tradition..and the queen’s speech..and of course all the fireworks for that many days. I can imagine Tivoli is beyond magical too. Great post, Erin! #farawayfiles
Thanks Corey! Sooo the real fireworks happen on the 31st, but some people just can’t wait, so they are legal for those four days, but much more sporatic until the big night! And YES to Tivoli – any time of year! Happy New Year Corey!
The Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park sounds like my cup of tea! Give me twinkly lights and a few rides and I’m a happy camper. I think that if I was in Denmark I’d probably tune into Queen Margrethe’s speech even though I wouldn’t be able to understand it. It seems like a nice tradition.
Happy New Year!
Walt Disney designed Disneyland inspired by Tivoli Gardens – it is chock full of charm and some pretty good rides too! Thanks for reading – cheers from Copenhagen!
I love a good fireworks display, this one looks amazing. Am hoping to finally visit Copenhagen this year as my husband’s friend is moving there for his job (although they’re going to be living over the border in Sweden). #farawayfiles
Sweden is awesome too! Always nice to have a local connection! Cheers from Copenhagen! Happy New Year!
Dinner for One is a sure thing in Norway as well 🙂 Can’t remember not seeing it on the day before Christmas Eve 🙂
Copenhagen certainly seems to know how to welcome in the New Year! Love the idea of jumping into the New Year. Fireworks look amazing. We spent one New Years Eve in Norway and they were all our letting off forewords on New Years Eve. Never seen anywhere quite like it since..!
Do Danes kiss after the jumping, or is that not done there?
I think this depends on the Dane! But probably if you are interested in who you jump into the New Year with!
Oops, forgot #FarawayFiles
Okay, this is awesome! The photos, the traditions, the video! All of it! Its funny, but for most of my adult life I’ve been fairly content with staying in on NYE, but this all sounds so fun, and I think we need to adopt some of this… I love the idea of the literal jump into the New Year! #farawayfiles
Happy New Year! Wonderful how the new year is celebrated in Denmark. Cool to know the Queen even gives a speech! New Year’s Eve is very loud in Puerto Rico too. Firework and explosions start very early. When the new year hits, you can see the smoke from all the things that are being burn. Therefore, I think I will feel at home in Denmark. #FarawayFiles
Godt Nytår to you too! Although how I’m pronouncing it in my head is 99.9% not how it’s actually pronounced 🙂 I love that they literally jump to jump into the new year. Also, wow fireworks galore!
This sounds so festive! I love the sound of all the traditions. And those fireworks look amazing! We spent NYE in Oslo once, and the amount of fireworks there was crazy. Any excuse to break up the cold and dark, I guess!
Copenhagen looks like a fun place to celebrate NYE if you are human. I cannot imagine how terrifying all that fireworks noise must be for the animals. #FarawayFiles
This looks like so much fun! I had a really chill New Year’s Eve this year and now I’m regretting it a little bit. 🙂 I didn’t make it to Tivoli while I was visiting Copenhagen two years ago and I can’t believe I didn’t prioritize it! Next time, for sure. 🙂
I wouldn’t normally put an amusement park visit on my top sites to visit on a city break trip, but Tivoli is something else – even if you aren’t into the rides, they decorate for each season in such a charming way! Next time – you should! Cheers from Copenhagen, thanks for reading!
It’s just not the holidays without glogg!
I loved this post! It sounds just as NYE should be; full of fun and festivities. I love that everyone comes out of their homes for fireworks. Just perfect. I might add in the jumping off furniture into my celebrations!
Happy New Year, Erin! Wow, the Danes sure know how to usher in the New Year :-)This is interesting because we often hear and read about NYE’s parties in the main cities of the world like NY, London, Sydney but it’s cool to read about how it’s celebrated in Copenhagen 🙂
Those are some fireworks! I like the idea of jumping into the new year. Happy New Year!
I really like your post. I am happy that you like Denmark. I live in den and I agree with you. The danish new year is amazing?
Sounds like a wonderful evening!! #farawayfiles
Wow! Copenhagen seems so astonishing and a perfect place to spend the New Year’s Eve, Erin! Thanks to your post, I am so inspired to explore it as soon as possible!
It really a wonderful place to explore and has plenty of great places for a run! Cheers from Denmark!
This is so misleading. I live in Denmark and god knows they love to party but at NYE everything is closed. Most pubs and restaurants are shut. Most of those that remain are private parties Fireworks are the only thing they do here.
So sorry you found my post misleading! I truly do think Copenhagen is one of the best places to celebrate NYE! As a family, we don’t look for pubs or fancy restaurants on NYE. If that is your thing – there are definitely still some to be found open in the capital – Tivoil and the old town tourist area are a good place to start! For me – I love the free show (and your own kransekage + bottle of champagne) plus fireworks all over the city! I think it is fantastisk!
And I live here too!
The lights look wonderful indeed. They are transformational to a city. We saw a great festival in Lisbon a few years ago and I know there is a brilliant one in Chartres in France too. I smiled when I saw Hellerup on your map. It reminded me of my 1992 visit to the Tuborg brewery where I learned about the rivalry with Carlsberg! Wilbur #farawayfiles
I’ve got a photo for you then! I’ll send it via Twitter! Cheers from here.
All across the city.
I couldn’t stop smiling and ducking around the corner.
It’s a blast isn’t it!? Cheers!