TIVOLI GARDENS AMUSEMENT PARK | COPENHAGEN
DENMARK’S BEST AMUSEMENT PARK
Tivoli! Tivoli! Tivoli! No – not another little Italian town. I live in Denmark! I’m talking about Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park right here in the Danish capital Copenhagen. What? You don’t know Tivoli? You should come visit! You should come visit Copenhagen AND visit Tivoli. When it’s open. Alas, it’s not always open. But if your travels allow, it is so worth it when it is.
Tivoli is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world and has been in operation since August 1843. In the world peeps! That is cool. And old. And cool! Bakken, only 20 kilometers up the road in Klampenborg is the oldest, but my heart lies in Tivoli.
That’s because Tivoli is all sorts of charming in every season. And seasonal it is. Tivoli is not open all year round like some of those other world famous amusement parks you may know. Say maybe like… Disneyland. But did you know that ol’ Walt himself visited Copenhagen multiple times and drew more than a little inspiration for many of his own attractions? And he may have even co-opted a bit of Disneyworld’s pristine, fairy-tale-like atmosphere from a certain darling Danish theme park. Where else? Ding, ding, ding. Yep, you got it. TIVOLI.
Tivoli’s season begins in early April so that means that here in Copenhagen – it will soon be open for your enjoyment! Bring on summer! Summer season that is. I know it’s only April. Believe me, I feel you. Spring is a little slower to start up here in Scandinavia – but it’s springing. I can taste it. And like one bookend on a calendar’s shelf, now that Tivoli is open, the year can truly begin. So let’s begin. This is a perfect time to walk you through the unique seasons at Tivoli Gardens. There is always time for Tivoli. I’ll start now in…
SPRING – FORÅR IN DANISH
Easter Activities | April 6th – April 17th, 2017
After an initial crush of locals getting their sweet Tivoli rush on following four months of dark, Spring is a great time to visit this Copenhagen icon. If your trip falls in Spring, it is actually fantastisk (that’s Danish for fantastic) in the park. Flowers, those traditional trumpeters of spring, play an important role in creating the coveted atmosphere at Tivoli. Already hyacinths and daffodils and pansies will be perking up the park. But the big show will be 24,000 Dutch tulips in a grand display outside the park’s Pantomime Theater.
This year Tivoli starts the season with special Easter themed activities. Besides extra fresh flowers, baby lambs will be on display. Yes. I said baby lambs. I’m sold. You can also meet the park’s mascot Petzi the Bear and his friend Flora (are you sensing a pattern?) for a special easter scavenger hunt through the old garden and earn a chocolate egg if you complete your sheet. For 20dkk, grab a list and starting looking. Don’t forget to meet back at 16:00 at the main stage each day to claim your treat.
Besides flowers, springtime affords the added bonus of smaller crowds. Thank Denmark’s unpredictable spring weather. Case in point – even gobs of rain didn’t stop those in the know from getting a head start on the season at last year’s Lysfest, or soft opening. We didn’t stay long, just enough to hug friends and whet our appetite on a ride or two. If you can brave the potentially crazy weather and come during a weekday, right when the park opens at 11:00 am, you will be rewarded with relatively shorter lines for most rides. Danish school children are tucked away in classes until late June. Weekdays during spring will also save you 10DKK per ticket.
On most spring days, repeats on your soon-to-be favorite rides are easily possible. Try the newest attraction – Fatamagora – which only opened April 28th, 2016 – adding another beautiful tower to the Tivoli skyline. Will it become one of your family favorites?
TIVOLI TIP: Spring affords the added bonus that crowds will be smaller during this time of year. But keep note of Danish public holidays, as a visit to Tivoli is always popular with the many locals who purchase annual passes.
SUMMER – SOMMER IN DANISH
April 6th – September 24th, 2017
Most people who visit Tivoli know it from the fragrant flower-filled fun of summer, which runs through the end of September. During the summer season, you can enjoy tons of live music, marching parades and fireworks shows. The park can also be chock full of tourists from every corner of the world in the summer. Holding an annual pass card becomes a small luxury for those who do, as they can hop in and out as often as they please when the lines get too long. Don’t have that freedom? Don’t worry. Tivoli is the perfect size. In fact, much smaller than an average American amusement park – facilitating your ability to check that line again later. No fast track or line wait apps necessary. And there is plenty to do here with or without waiting for the rides.
Just chilling on the center lawn while the children dart in and out is truly a lovely way to spend the sunny afternoon in the summer time. Grab some take-away food, a glass of wine or a cold Carlsberg and if you are lucky enough to nab one of the loungers about the lawn – sit back and soak up the atmosphere. Unlike other amusement parks around the world, the food offerings are very good here. We haven’t tried all of the restaurants, but do like the BBQ ribs at Promenaden and there is always a line for Wagamama. Don’t want a full sit down meal? Try the traditionally Danish meatball sandwich at Frikadellen – a small take away window near the lawn area. For sweet treats there are yummy is vafler (ice cream cones), candy floss (cotton candy, not edible underwear) or try the Scandi favorite – the fancy lakrids (licorice) from Johan Bülow. Just try some, it’s super lækker! Delicious!
Tivoli offers a myriad of entertainment options if rollercoasters and losing your delicious lunch isn’t really your thing. Try to make time for marveling at the prestigious Tivoli Guard marching through the park in their red and blue regalia. The guard is made up of mostly boys (only recently girls) starting at age 8 up to 16 years old. They are part of what I love about Tivoli – the many historic traditions that still endure today. You could take in a theater show, but remember that they will all be in Danish. That could be entertaining in and of itself! Need
Need a more universal language? There are tons of musical performances – both modern and classical for your listening pleasure. Many Friday evenings in the summer – there are free concerts (after you pay admission) from the main lawn stage. Known as Fredagsrock in Danish, there are as many options as there are musical tastes. From Lil Wayne to House of Pain and Erykah Badu to Brian Wilson. Want more local flavor? Top Danish acts like Phlake, Mads Langer and Joey Moe are here to hjælp (help.) This year Tivoli has added music options for lillefredag (little Friday, otherwise known as Thursday) as well. Find all the current events listings here.
If you fancy fireworks, you can often find one of their famous displays during the summer time. Plan accordingly, they are worth the wait, if you can make it until the end of the park day! The light stays long come midsummer, which we all love, but it will be nearly 23:00 when the show finally starts.
TIVOLI TIP: Crowds shrink again in September when kids are back in school – a perfect time to visit Tivoli with potentially great weather.
FALL – EFTERÅR IN DANISH
October 13th – November 5th, 2017
Because operations at Tivoli are only seasonal in nature – there is plenty of down time to prepare, making the most of each season in truly unique and special ways. Autumn brings Halloween to Tivoli. This is the newest addition to the Tivoli repertoire and has only been around since 2006. That will make this year’s jack-o-lanterned party a memorable 11th anniversary if you are waiting for a reason to come in October. For a holiday that isn’t widely celebrated in Denmark, Tivoli does a wonderful job with their delightful Halloween decor.
The gardens shift into fall shades and provide the backdrop for harvest-themed displays full of gourds and friendly ghouls. In Denmark, Halloween is the “spooky” holiday, in contrast to the traditional Danish kid-costumed Fastelavn celebrated in February. But don’t worry, no zombies will be on the loose and the park keeps their charm safe for all ages. A word of caution that some of the shops will be selling supremely creepy and somewhat gory costumes and accessories, so if that is not your family’s thing – steer clear.
The weekend closest to Halloween will offer pumpkin carving if you need your lantern jacked as there is nary a pumpkin patch to pluck your own in Denmark. You only have three weeks to get your fall on at Tivoli this year, so plan accordingly. (Looking for more reasons to visit Denmark in Fall? I’ve got you covered here.)
TIVOLI TIP: Closer to October 31st, Tivoli offers pumpkin carving if you need your lantern jacked as there is nary a pumpkin patch to pluck your own in Denmark.
CHRISTMAS – JUL IN DANISH
November 18th – December 31st, 2017
God Jul! Merry Christmas from Tivoli – truly the pinnacle of the year! A perfect magical wonderful fairy tale bookend on all the seasons. Christmas at Tivoli. Oooh. Ahh. The winter solstice may darken our days here, but Tivoli lights up our hearts. As cheesy as that sounds, once you see the million and one sparkly fantastisk twinkly lights flocking the festivities, you will agree. Lights bedeck the rides, hang in the trees and illuminate the lanes. Summer’s lazy lawn gets covered with little chalets and Christmas trees and love. No, really. There is a huge tree near the center that drips with giant glowing red hearts, that oh so Danish of holiday decorations.
Bundle up, it can be cold, especially on the rides! But braziers burn around the grounds and can afford you a few minutes’ hand warming while you ogle the lights and take in the sights. Don’t have the nerve to try one of the world’s tallest swing rides? At Christmas, the fountains close up and make space for a tamer version that I adore. I miss those swings in other seasons.
Try the gløgg – Denmark’s answer to warm mulled wine. Go ahead – take the extra snaps. It’s very Danish. And you know – when in Denmark? Plan ahead and book dinner at one of the restaurants for a chance to warm up before one of the amazing themed fireworks displays to end your festive evening in Tivoli! It has become a special Copenhagen tradition for our family. Want more things to love about Danish Jul time? Read my post here. Christmas at Tivoli begins November 18th and runs through New Year’s Eve, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the Jul time bliss.
TIVOLI TIP: Try the gløgg – Denmark’s answer to warm mulled wine. Go ahead – take the extra snaps. It’s very Danish. God Jul!
A year’s worth of fun and memories at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park in Copenhagen. Been to Tivoli? What time of year did you come? What did you like best? What is your favorite ride? PS – mine is the Demon – love it! Share in the comments below and tell me where you’re reading from, I’d love to know.
Cheers from Copenhagen! Har en go’weekend! Have a great weekend! – Erin