Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843 and is the second oldest amusement park in the world: the oldest is nearby in the Danish town of Klampenborg. However, Tivoli (main entrance shown above) is probably the most famous and apparently served as the inspiration for Disneyland.
I visited Tivoli Gardens on the evening of November 22. Yes, the days are very short at this time of year (it gets dark around 4:00 p.m.) and it is rather cool, but the park is open anyway. It closes in September but then reopens for a couple of weeks before Hallowe’en and then again for several weeks before Christmas.
The place is lit up “like a Christmas tree”. In addition to festive music and what must be hundreds of thousands of lights, there are many stalls devoted to seasonal treats and Christmas gifts. They say that you must have a heart of stone if you visit Tivoli at Christmas and don’t feel at least a little bit of Christmas spirit.
Some people visit Tivoli and don’t go on any rides at all. That’s fine – the atmosphere is fun anyway and the cost structure certainly doesn’t support dabbling in the rides. It’s best to either ride nothing or to get an unlimited ride pass, as the cost for individual rides is almost criminal. Still, it didn’t seem right to travel all the way to Denmark and not go on a single ride at Tivoli.
However, while I enjoy the thrill of downhill skiing, I am not really into deliberately scaring myself. This ruled out some of the crazier rides at Tivoli. As I wanted to try at least one ride, I opted for the sedate Ballongyngen Ferris wheel. It goes back to 1943…but that was still one hundred years after the park first opened!
Particularly given the price, the ride was over quickly and I only had time for a couple of photographs of the park. Then again, I was the only person on the Ferris wheel. Needless to say, I’ve never been on a Ferris wheel by myself on a dark late November evening with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights twinkling below.
Keen observers will have noticed that, other than the awesome Hunter’s Pot at the street food market, I really haven’t said that much about Danish food. That all changed at Tivoli. I began with a combo of Gløgg and æbleskiver. Gløgg is basically glühwein (mulled wine), but it was nicely enhanced by raisins and roasted almonds. It was an excellent choice on a chilly night.
As for æbleskiver…don’t be put off by the rough-looking name. These are delicious miniature warm doughnuts, dusted with powdered sugar and served with fruit jam for dipping. It was a mess and (like the Ferris wheel) it was over far too soon, but I will never hesitate to accept æbleskiver if they are ever offered to me again.
After those sweets, I needed something substantial and savoury. I found it in the form of a frikadelle sandwich. This consists of a toasted bun with Danish pork meatballs topped by a mustardy remoulade and pickled red cabbage. Pickled red cabbage is awesome by itself and I really enjoyed having it on this (once again messy) sandwich.
Stay tuned for more on Copenhagen…including my collaboration with a world-famous artist!