The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is one of Europe’s best-known amusement parks and pleasure gardens. Situated conveniently in the centre of the city, between the Central Train Station and the City Hall, Tivoli has been one of Copenhagen’s best-loved treasures since its opening in 1843 – which makes it the second oldest amusement park in the entire world.
Tivoli’s age doesn’t mean that it’s stuck permanently in the past, however. Lovers of thrill rides will be delighted to know, for example, that as recently as May, 2009, a new sensation known as Vertigo was unleashed on the public. Having said that, Tivoli is proud that one of its favourite attractions is still Mountain Track, the wooden roller coaster, built in 1914, which, somewhat un-nervingly perhaps, has a ‘brakeman’ to keep control on the steep downhill sections. Other terrifyingly popular attractions are The Demon and The Golden Tower- both of which will test the strongest nerves – and stomachs. Slightly less daunting is Himmelskibet, which was introduced in 2006 as the tallest carousel in the world and affords terrific panoramic views across Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Tivoli Gardens is not just about the amusement park, though – exciting as that might be. Obviously the famous gardens themselves are a great attraction, especially during the warm summer months they they are in full bloom. There are over 110,000 flowers to wander through – and during the most popular season, guided tours are available in English each afternoon at 3 pm. At nights, 120,000 lights illuminate the garden, giving it a magical, ethereal atmosphere, especially around the enchanting Tivoli Lake.
Tivoli is also one of this exhilarating city’s major cultural destinations. The Tivoli Concert Hall, which although built in 1956 was radically overhauled in 2005, is one of Copenhagen’s major classical music venues in an auditorium seating over 1600 people. The recent upgrade means that there is now a delightful gardenside foyer with a two storey bar and lounge and also, in the theatre’s lower levels, an impressive saltwater aquarium. As well as concerts from visiting performers such as the New York City Ballet, there is a prestigious international piano competition each year.
The impressively original Chinese styled open-air Pantomime Theatre, which has daily performances of classical commedia dell’arte, also hosts regular dance and ballet productions during the summer. Indeed, the summer is a wonderfully thriving time for the Gardens, as a live music series, known as Fredagsrock – Friday Rock – takes place here. In addition to top Scandinavian acts, during recent years musicians such as Sting, the Smashing Pumpkins and the Pet Shop Boys have played Fredagsrock.
Tivoli Gardens is all of these magical things and much more besides. Although not enticing from the outside – you might even walk past it without being aware of what it was – once inside the gardens you are in a magical environment. With puppeteers performing on the paths, entrancing water fountains, fabulous open-air cafes – in addition to the fact that a Michelin-starred restaurant is in here – it’s easy to see why, at day and at night, the Tivoli has such an important place in the lives of the Copenhagen residents.
Always famous as a summer venue, more recently the Tivoli Gardens has started to become well-known for its Christmas activities as well – when even more lights enthral the visitors and a thriving Christmas market operates throughout the day and evening.
Copenhagen has long been a popular tourist venue, with its memories of Hans Christian Andersen and Little Mermaid statue prime reasons for visiting. The airport was voted the World’s Best in 2002 and has a good deal of international traffic although many visitors like to arrive by sea. The Tourist Board’s own website has a considerable amount of information about accommodation and possible ways to reach the city.