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An Insider’s Guide to Tivoli

Things to Do — By Jane Graham on April 15, 2010 at 11:51 am
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Tivoli Pleasure Gardens opens for its 168th summer season today.

Said to have inspired Walt Disney when he visited in 1950, the magic of Tivoli is intrinsic to the Copenhagen lifestyle: add a little playtime to every day. And rather than being tucked away on the edge of town, the world class pleasure gardens of Tivoli can be found right in the heart of the Danish capital.

Done right, Tivoli really is as magical as the advertising suggests. However, it can also be outrageously expensive. After the entrance fee of 95kr (50kr for children) there’s the price of the rides, as well as food – and Tivoli’s restaurants are some of the most expensive and exclusive in the city.

Here are a few expert tips to make your day at Tivoli be one you’ll savor and want to repeat:

  • Choose your season. Tivoli is not open all year round. The gardens enjoy a long summer season (2010’s summer season opens today, April 15 and runs until September 26) as well as a 7-week Christmas season from mid-November and a 10 day ‘Halloween’ season to coincide with the school holiday in mid-October. For many, Christmas – with its vast array of lights – is the most magical time. For others, the long, light summer evenings offer a special atmosphere. Either way, Tivoli prides itself on its natural-looking, soft-glow bulbs: you’ll see no neon here.
  • Tivoli has regular concerts and shows on a daily basis: check the gardens’ website (www.tivoli.dk) to find out what’s happening and when. Many of these, like the Friday night rock concerts on the huge grass lawn, or the summer season’s Pantomime Theatre, are included in the ticket price, while others, including the Crazy Christmas Cabaret of London Toast Theatre and the classical concerts held at Glassalen, are ticketted.
  • If you’re visiting with older children who plan on going on a lot of rides, be sure to buy one of the multi-ride tickets along with the entrance fee. It might seem pricey at the time, but you’ll save a lot of money this way .
  • Younger children can – at no extra cost – enjoy a new playground for 2010: ‘Petzi’s World’ is a tour around the universe of popular Danish cartoon figure Petzi (Rasmus Klump) and his friends.
  • If you want to avoid long queues, buy your tickets beforehand over the internet and miss out the long wait at the entrance gates. You can also expect hefty lines for some of the rides: the big thrill rides tend to get busiest around early evening, so aim to check them out earlier in the day. The rides for very young children can also attract long lines; these tend to thin out later in the afternoon.
  • Where to eat. Tivoli can boast of 38 eateries, ranging from fast food joints to the Michelin-starred cuisine of The Paul and Restaurant Herman. For those looking for good quality food in the middle price range, Wagamama’s noodle bar is reasonably priced and family friendly, while Nimb Brasserie is a little more expensive but of a very high standard, and also offers kids’ menus. Bryggeriet Apollo brews its own beers on the premises that can be enjoyed with a steak meal, while Cafe Ultimo offers Italian cusine in a pretty setting.
  • The Tivoli Illuminations is a free, 10-minute show presented down by the lake with lights, lasers, smoke and music. It takes place every night just before closing, at 10.30pm Sun-Thu and just after midnight (00.15) Fri-Sat.

Photos of Petzi and the Star Flyer courtesy of Bjarke Ørsted and Tivoli.

The Little Mermaid now in Tivoli: see What’s Happened to the Little Mermaid?

Tags: Copenhagen activities, Family-friendly, funfairs, Tivoli

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