The first time I heard of Tivoli Gardens was whilst watching Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown (which was one of my favourite pastimes before I moved to London when I wanted to feel more discontented than usual) a year or two before I’d ever even been to Europe. As soon as I saw her eating a massive candy floss (cotton candy) I was sold on the place, and have been keeping it in the back of my mind for a good seven years, until at long last I found myself in Copenhagen.
Due to my unfortunate tendency towards motion sickness, pretty much the only rides I can manage are straightforward wooden coasters, with no loops or anything, and even then, I have to be drugged up on Dramamine. But I do love a good old-fashioned amusement park of the sort that are in increasingly short supply, with promenades, gardens, and a surplus of greasy/sugary food coupled with a modest admission price. Admission to Tivoli, without a ride pass, is DKK 95, about 12 quid, which is a bit pricy considering all it buys you is the right to walk around the premises, but still better than dropping £40+ on somewhere in the UK or USA. If you want to go on the rides, it’s an extra DKK 355 for unlimited rides, or alternatively, you can buy individual tickets, which will end up with each ride costing the equivalent of £4-9, so not the best deal. We just skipped them altogether, allowing me to pig out without risk of puking.
The first clue that Tivoli is cooler than your average amusement park comes when you learn that the theme is based on Tycho Brahe. The only thing I remember from 9th grade astronomy is the story of Tycho Brahe – I mean, the man had a silver nose, and possibly died from holding in his wee too long at a banquet, that’s memorable stuff. You’ll find an amazing Tycho Brahe fountain hidden in a quiet corner of the park next to a self-serve ice creamery, but the main way the theme manifests itself is through a few rides featuring steampunky looking rockets. Everything else seems to be based on either the sea, or world landmarks, a bit like a slightly less commercialised version of Epcot.
The other main theme is a scary-ass clown, who pops up through the park (though fortunately, we never saw the real thing). They seem to love clowns on the Continent, and this one is over-the-top terrifying. Be careful about turning your back on him, as he may have the ability to eat your soul.
As you can see, Tivoli is otherwise quite lovely, with loads of gardens and fountains interspersed with rides and game stalls. It’s especially pretty after dark, when everything is lit up, including the fake Taj Mahal, and there’s a special light show over one of the fountains. There’s also various musical acts performing at different times throughout the park, so there is entertainment to be had outside of the rides and carnival games.
Tivoli is ringed by restaurants and cafes, most of which you can eat at without entering the park, though if you want proper carnival food, you really need to go inside. Since we weren’t riding the rides, most of what we did was eat. I had to get the giant, made to order candy floss, but I also had an ice cream with Tycho, and delicious it was too. There’s also lots of fried things, and of course the ubiquitous Danish hot dogs, but I definitely gave those a miss.
I suppose there’s not really much more to say about Tivoli. I’d highly recommend it if you’re in Copenhagen, as it does have a really nice atmosphere, reminiscent of a smaller version of Conneaut Lake Park as I remember it, admittedly through the golden glow of childhood. The rides probably aren’t the most thrilling, but if you spent as many hours as I did mooning over pictures of old Victorian amusement parks as I did as a child, you’ll love it, though you’ll probably wish, as I did, that they at least had a funhouse or Laff-in-the-Dark ride for the nausea-inclined amongst us to enjoy. And now I’ll leave you with a few more random pictures from around the park.