Tivoli Gardens is a charming amusement park and pleasure garden situated in the heart of Copenhagen. It opened in 1843 which makes it the second oldest amusement park in the world, attracting over 4 million visitors a year. Rumour has it that after visiting the park, Walt Disney was deeply inspired by it and tried to emulate Tivoli’s fun, laid-back and inviting atmosphere during his creation of Disneyland.
As soon as you walk through the gates you’re greeted with the Moorish-inspired vision of Nimb, a lavish hotel with an out-door eating area, the perfect place for lunch and people watching. Needless to say it wasn’t within my budget, but that didn’t stop me gawping at it in the way I do when I’m wistfully looking at restaurant menus that are too expensive for me.
Admittedly, amusement parks are never usually my thing, but I was utterly charmed by Tivoli. Immediately falling in love with its vintage, old movie like appearance – being beautifully maintained and feeling as if you were stepping back in time. It doesn’t have that modern day, gimmicky atmosphere that many amusements parks have; you won’t see people dressed up in costumes or be subjected to loud, thumping dance music. Instead you’ll hear the sound of people laughing and chatting and experiencing a landscape that could easily have been found in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. It’s not surprise this place inspired Mr Disney.
I visited Tivoli once during the day and rode the ‘Daemon’ roller coaster which twirls and swirls whilst going upside-down at a terrifying speed. The ride doesn’t last very long which pleased me, because any longer and I might have lost my voice box from screaming so much! There are lots of gentler rides too, and a wide variety to suit all tastes and thresholds of fear! Something to note is that rides aren’t free once you pay your admission, instead you pay for them individually. There are three different pricing brackets which range from approximately £4.50 to a rather pricey £8.50 per ride.
One of the great things about Tivoli is that being located in the city centre it means you can leave and re-enter the park as often as you like. I therefore decided to visit at night too to see how it differed from the daytime. Luckily I was there on a Saturday night when they hold a spectacular fireworks display at 11:45pm, I know this is quite late for families with young kids but it’s worth letting them staying up for! Before the firework display all the rides are still in full swing and are lit up really elegantly, and there’s also a concert area with a brass band.
The Nimb Hotel shows that Tivoli is just as magical at night as it is during the day.
There’s a really romantic vibe during the late evening as couples hold hands on the rides, and the smell of food drifts out from the restaurants and lingers in the air. There are also quiet and dimly lit pockets to the garden and lakeside areas which attract fewer people. The lake looks stunning at night because it captures the reflection of nearby rides which light up in colours of gold, red, purple and blue. It’s also funny to see the hundreds of coy fish swimming and bobbing up their heads with open mouths at this time of night.
Ten minutes before the fireworks are due to start the rides stop, and the entire park becomes dark. Collectively, people break off from what they’re doing to look up and wait until the clock strikes 11:45pm. Then a beautiful and dramatic firework display takes place, and I watched in awe as they exploded in faultless unison to the sound of the orchestra in the background.