Located in the heart of Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is a seasonal sensory spectacular.
With no real agenda for our short break in the Danish capital, Tivoli had been the only thing to truly make the “must see” list. I was expecting an elaborate Christmas market with a few rides and the usual over priced yet distinctly underwhelming culinary options. I was instead met with the classiest display of festive splendour I have ever had the joy of witnessing and after paying the 99DKK (around £10) entry fee, I was thrilled we had set aside the late afternoon/evening to explore. Tivoli Gardens at Christmas is a sight not to be missed.
Tivoli Gardens are huge. Don’t be deceived by the fact they are literally in the centre of Copenhagen, they still take up as much room as they probably would do if situated in the out of town suburb usually dedicated to such attractions. A seasonal affair, Tivoli has been around since 1843 with the first Christmas season taking place in 1994. Alongside a fully fledged theme park there are theatres, restaurants and lakes. Throughout November and December the park transforms into the ultimate winter wonderland using no fewer than 1,100 Christmas Trees and a casual half a million lights to adorn its historical grounds. Honestly, Tivoli is amazing.
We arrived in the afternoon and did a walking tour stopping for endless photo opportunities, squeals of joy and the occasional warming of the hands before settling into Fru Nimb for lunch. I had been promised impressive open sandwiches and impressive open sandwiches is exactly what we got. The restaurant itself was beautiful (honourable mention to the bathrooms which were gorgeous) and sitting in the window we contently watched the peacocks meander around the outside diners (Tivoli’s answer to Southern Europe’s feral cats) while the sun began to set.
I opted for the shrimps from Greenland which, judging by the taste of them, is obviously where all shrimps should hail from while Tom enjoyed the Guinea Fowl option. I was also lovingly reunited with my favourite Grapefruit Radler drink of the summer and left Tom to try to the customary Aquavit accompaniment to the dish alone. 3% grapefruit “beer” > 45% alcohol.
As the short lived daylight hours faded away Tivoli transformed and those half a million lights really came into their own. With 60 stalls all selling various products to look at the hours soon passed. You can purchase ride tickets at an additional cost to the entry fee but we personally didn’t feel the need to. Perhaps in the summer when there are less Christmas trees to admire this would be a logical way to spend your day at the gardens but for us several cups of mulled wine and endless baubles (well, 60,000 of them) were enough to keep us entertained.
I loved the quirky decorations still found around the park, like these carousel horses above. To me Tivoli had just the right amount of retro kitsch- enough honourable nods to its proud Danish history without feeling too much like a huge step back in time.
Tivoli Gardens at Christmas is an absolute must do if in Copenhagen over the winter months. It was certainly a highlight of our trip and an absolutely masterclass in how to tastefully put on a winter themed attraction. I do however now fear that no other Christmas market will ever compare…although I suppose in the name of research I’m just going to have to commit myself to trying them all out. You know, to make it fair.