Tivoli Gardens -
A Piece of Copenhagen Magic
Welcome to Tivoli Gardens or just "Tivoli" as we call it. A world of its own - right in the heart of Copenhagen. Tivoli is one of the most beloved Danish tourist attractions and for a reason. As soon as you enter through the gates you can feel that there is something special about this place.. there is a magic in the air.
In this city where fairy tale meets the future - Tivoli definitely belongs to the fairy tale part.
© Photo Tivoli
Tivoli Gardens is the most famous of the
Copenhagen amusement parks
and hasn‘t changed much since the founder's vision saw the light of day 15. August 1843.
Whenever I talk to people both in Europe and overseas they won't necessarily know a lot about the city, but they always mention the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen when we come to talk about Denmark and Danish culture.. and that's okay. I trust that there is a good reason for that.
I have loved to go here since I was a boy. My grandfather took me there ever so often and we would spend most of the day walking around in this fairytale garden full of well-known "surprises" and adventures.
The founder and creator of Tivoli Gardens - Georg Carstensen also seems to have been a dreamer. His vision was to create a magical place of fun and joy for his fellow Danes. The Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park all right - and yet, it is so much more than that...
© Photo Tivoli
In the middle of the 1800s most people's lives were not so sparkling in Copenhagen. This time period undoubtedly called for amusement and diversion. - so Tivoli Gardens quickly became extremely popular as a place of enjoyment and recreation from the daily struggles.
Wanna try out the coolest rides..? I have gathered
a few of my favourite rides in Tivoli Gardens.
It should be virtually impossible to go wrong, but should you have trouble finding it just ask a local "where is Tivoli?" - and they‘ll point you in the right direction. I don‘t think there is a Copenhagener between 5 and 90 years of age who does not
know where "Tivoli" is.
The Tivoli Gardens is situated right in the middle of Copenhagen center next to "Rådhuspladsen" the City Hall Square. The area is a couple of square miles big surrounded by boulevards on all four sides and has roughly the same size as when it opened in 1843.
Today Tivoli is located in the middle of town centre - but it wasn‘t always like that. What today is considered a central situation in the city was literally outside the city walls - back in 1843 when Tivoli was opened. It was built on the remains of the moat that had existed for hundreds of years around Copenhagen as protection for the city. The lakes inside the Tivoli Gardens are remainders of these water moats that once surrounded the city.
Tivoli Gardens was geographically placed at what was then outside the city gate of "Vesterport" (the western gate), which was situated where The City Hall Square "Rådhuspladsen" is today.
Admission to Tivoli Gardens is separate and costs 79 DDK (10 Euro) for adults and 40 DDK (5 Euro) for kids.. so you can stay all day if you want - but in order to try all the fun rides you will need a tour pass ... a ticket that allows you access to all the rides.
More about ticket options.
Take a Tivoli stroll
Take the full walk around the Tivoli Gardens. It‘s worth it.. and it‘s not bigger than you can easily come around in half an hour. But it's very likely you'll spend a lot more time. There are just too many exciting rides and "sweet distractions".
In the evening the smells from the many tall trees fill the air and the thousands of flowers, that The Tivoli Gardens are so known for - will entoxicate you as you pass by. On a warm summer night the place is like poetry itself. If you get a chance to have a walk or to sit under the trees taking in the sights and sounds of people having a good time.. you will know what Tivoli is all about.
When you sit at the center fountain in front of the entrance to the Tivoli Concert Hall you literally sit embedded in flowers all around you..
.. indeed there are so many things to see here and to try out. Go for what speaks to you. To me Tivoli is "ever green". I loved it when I was 5 and I doubt this will have changed much when I'm 95.
A magical garden
Tivoli is really a garden. A sort of magical garden with Chinese pagodes and Japanese style water streams, mixed with flowers and fairytale atmosphere that speaks to the heart of every child or romantic soul. It‘s done with a lot of care and finesse...
here you can see that Tivoli actually really is a garden.
The Pantomime Theatre
To the more quiet and poetic activities I recommend the old Pantomime Theatre. When I was .. younger - I thought this was totally boring in comparison to all the other rides, but nowadays I actually love to hang out for a while whenever there's a performance.
© photo Malene Thyssen
This tradition which has its roots in the Italian Commedia dell'Arte is still very much alive today with the main characters of Harlequin and Columbine. The performances particularly speak to the youngest spectators who especially love when the stupid servant Pierrot enters the stage.. and to be quite honest we actually all love it.
When the peacock center curtain folds down its wings, the stage is usually set somewhere in old Copenhagen, but no matter the plots - the issues are ever young.
This theatre is unique in the world. The absence of spoken dialogue in the performances is an advantage - speaks to all cultures - since this art form makes use of no language only a "universal" body language where it doesn‘t much matter what nationality or age you are. As such it remains timeless in its expression. A visit to the Pantomime Theatre can be a delightful intermezzo during your visit in Tivoli.
Admission to Pantomime Theatre performances is free. The current cast are listed on the notice board at the entrance to the theatre’s performing area.
Let yourself be driven around the Tivoli Gardens for a change. This charming little journey will bring you around most of the places except where one cannot drive - like "Smøgen" - a very narrow old street within Tivoli itself with a lot of different fun stuff to discover. You can see the beginning of "Smøgen" on the picture below to the right ..
... speaking of .."garden"
No, "Tivoligarden" isn't Tivoli's garden. It so happens that the Danish word for "guards" is "garde" and Tivoli's "guards" of proud marchers are thus named "Tivoligarden". It's the name for the junior soldier parade. They play and march regularly through Tivoli and they're actually good. A dear junior "copy" of the Royal Palace Life Guards - if you will.
© Photo Tivoli
They are really cute and - they can actually play..
Speaking of music ..
Tivoli Gardens Concert Hall
This is one of the best concert rooms in Europe. A large variety of artists and orchestras give concerts here together with the world's finest conductors. Zubin Metha is one of the returning guest conductors in Tivoli Gardens Concert Hall. I have personally performed in this acoustically magnificent place several times with various ensembles. For a mainly classical concert hall I must say - it rocks!
See program for upcoming concert events.
Two smaller outdoor concert "saloons" belong to the original tradition in this old garden. They feature excellent bigband music during the afternoon and evening.
© Photos Tivoli
.. the bigband pavillon
and the classical pavillon ...
From its large repertoire the orchestra will frequently play the "Champaign Galop", composed by the famous Danish composer
Hans Christian Lumbye.
Hear a little sound clip from The Champagne Galop.
"Plænen"- the central square
This place houses the main stage in the middle of Tivoli where many famous artists give concerts throughout the year.. like Sting, Beach Boys, Smashing Pumpkins and last summer 2006 Jamie Cullum during the Copenhagen Jazz week.
The big open air concert stage in the middle of Tivoli houses big outdoor performances like concerts, circus acrobatics, Riverdance performances, etc.
Check out the coming Tivoli events
© Photo Tivoli
This literal "high light" of the evening is not to be missed. On special days during the summer season and in December close to Christmas the famous Tivoli fireworks lights up the sky over the central square with its beautiful big trees and fountains.
It‘s such a very nice tradition to join when everybody gathers together at midnight. As a last farewell before closing.. Tivoli Gardens presents a 15-20 min fireworks show which can be seen from every point in Copenhagen.
© Photo Tivoli
On a warm summer night it is sure to fill up .. 'cause who wants to miss the fireworks. A couple of thousand people is not unusual in the cosy little square amongst the trees.. just waiting in anticipation - adults and kids alike - for the show to begin and make the evening perfect.
Enjoy your time in Tivoli Gardens!
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