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Tivoli Gardens

July 26th, 2007

copenhagen  tivoli gardens_7


More an amusement park than a grassy, tree grove garden, Tivoli is nonetheless a favorite for kids, and so it finds its spot on my list of great European city parks. You can find quiet sections of Tivoli, even romantic spots around its lake with spectacular night views of the Chinese pagoda or Pirate ship reflected in the still waters. Perhaps Tivoli is not a true chill-out park—even though 75% of the area must by charter be “open space”—but this is because the rides and fun of amusements draw you into their world. It is a gorgeous, fun, eclectic, and rambunctious place to spend money and see one way traditional Copenhagen celebrates every single day.

copenhagen  tivoli gardens_4Tivoli’s lake is part of Copenhagen’s original moat that surrounded the once fortified city. Founder Gerog Carstensen secured a five-year charter in 1842 by telling King Christian VIII, as the annals of history tell us, “When the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics.” (Some things never change.) Carstensen got 15 acres to work with, and he made the best of his charter.

Buildings and mechanical rides have always been a part of Tivoli. An Oriental theme surrounds one section of the park; a pantomime theater entertains people alfresco; bandstands dot the lighted and flowery landscape; tucked in between you’ll find assorted restaurants and cafés; the Rutchebanen is one of the world’s oldest roller coasters, built in 1914; and in 2006 the world’s tallest carousel opened: the Himmelskibet, reaching 80 meters into Copenhagen’s clear skies.

At night lamplight illuminates Tivoli’s vast gardens. You can walk through various landscapes, almost like a botanical garden, actually. I like the evening lamplight, as it gives a completely different perspective from daytime park strolling. Streams gurgle in the moonlight, moths come out for you to see their markings, some as colorful as any butterfly; you can find benches in foliage groves to watch people or find quiet moments alone with a lover.

Tivoli’s flower beds are kept colorful throughout the year, but the best time to visit is late spring, when 115,000 flowers bloom throughout the park. You can spend a few hours wandering the garden paths while your kids are off spending Danish kroner in the arcades or on rides. Take advantage. You deserve to get lost, too. At midnight each summer evening, a fireworks display explodes overhead, easily seen from hotel balconies surrounding the walled garden park.

copenhagen  tivoli gardens_3Family Activities in Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli was made for family activity. As Carstensen dreamed, people like to amuse themselves, find recreation in a park, and this is the place in central Copenhagen for afternoon and evening fun.

Besides the wooden roller coaster (whose workers ride in the last car to brake the train when it goes downhill so as not to pick up too much speed. Hmm.) there is a modern coaster: The Demon: it has two loops and one zero-G roll in a two-minute ride.

The Himmelskibet carousel is not your traditional horse & sleigh round-about. You sit in a basket-like seat hooked onto four chains. As the carousel spins, you find yourself flying toward the edge of nowhere as the mechanism elevates you a hundred feet over the park. The attendants don’t allow people to ride who are wearing flip-flops. You can hear people screaming on this ride from blocks away.

(read more about Tivoli Gardens highlights here

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