Tivoli, the 170-year-old amusement gardens in central Copenhagen, used to be only a summer pass-time. In 1994, however, the first Christmas in Tivoli opened, and Tivoli’s special magic proved to be longer lasting than the short Danish winter days. With thousands of lights adorning the historic buildings and gardens, and with charmingly themed villages and shops full of tasty treats and dazzling decorations, Tivoli oozes Christmas. Add to that the wonderful restaurants and the many thrilling rides, and you are set for a day’s adventure.
In 2013 the Nordic Village welcomes you just inside the main entrance gate. Here you will find Father Christmas’s den where you can visit, make a wish and have your photo taken. Many of the shops in the Nordic area focus on knitwear: scarves, shawls, hats, mittens etc. You will also find traditional Christmas tree decorations and yummy fudge and liquorish.
Leaving the Nordic Village, you will have the 1909 Moresque style Nimb building in front of you. Nimb houses Nimb Brasserie that specializes in seasonal cuisine. So this time of year it is Danish traditional Christmas foods with a contemporary twist. Nimb Brasserie is open on Christmas Eve as well as New Year’s Eve.
Passing Nimb, you see Tivoli’s version of Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral at one end of the Russian Square. Inside the cathedral you can taste the ‘aebleskive’ – a pan-baked doughnut that Danes munch on at Christmas time, usually accompanied by steaming hot ‘glögg’ (spiced wine with raisins and almonds).
Along Tivoli’s main walk you will find restaurants such as Groeften, Kähler in Tivoli, Paafuglen, Madklubben Grill, and Brdr. Price in Tivoli. These are just some of Tivoli’s many restaurants. In most – if not all – restaurants you will see Danish ‘julefrokost’ (Christmas lunch) on the menu. The julefrokost is loved by Danes, and most of us attend several every Christmas: one at work, one with friends, one with family etc. For a julefrokost you will need (as a minimum): pickled herring, fried plaice, meat balls, roast pork, fried duck, cheese and rice pudding – all with the appropriate garnish and bread. Velbekomme! (That’s bon appétit in Danish).
Also in the main walk are shops offering gift items, food and drink. Look out for Danish charcuterie or ‘nisse’ ornaments to bring back a little bit of Denmark. The nisse is a being from Danish folklore now often confused with Santa’s Little Helpers. The nisse lives in your barn or attic and will help you if you are nice to him, which is why Danish kids put out a bowl of rice pudding for the nisse on Christmas Eve.
Throughout Tivoli on rides, in tree tops and everywhere, there are Christmas ornaments and sparkling lights. The gardeners have even planted enormous pots with hardy flowers to add that little extra to the ambience.
For the first time ever, Tivoli is open for regular business 31 December. The gardens open at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. This goes for admission to the gardens and rides. If you have a booking at a Tivoli restaurant you may stay until midnight.