First opened in 1843, Tivoli Gardens was inspired by the romantic pleasure gardens of Europe. Over the years, Tivoli’s guests have included an impressed Walt Disney and a mesmerized Michael Jackson, who rumor has it attempted to buy the place. The grand old amusement park is unquestionably Copenhagen's biggest tourist attraction and this nostalgic wonderworld can have even the most cynical visitor hanging loose. It also has the potential to be one of Copenhagen’s most expensive days out, however, so taking a little time to plan ahead could save you a considerable amount.
One of Tivoli's younger guests enjoying a ride on the miniature airplanes. — Photo courtesy of Tivoli Gardens
Before you make a trip to Tivoli, check it's open first. Tivoli has three seasons: Its summer season is by far the longest, and lasts from mid-April until late September. The Christmas season runs from mid-November until the end of December (not including December 24 and 25) while a short, two week Halloween-themed opening runs from mid to late October, to coincide with the school fall break.
It’s also worth considering what you’re most likely to do once in the park, as there are a variety of different tickets on offer. If you have kids of school age, chances are they’ll want to try as many rides as possible - in which case it pays to purchase a multipass armband along with entry tickets for unlimited rides. Expect long lines for the more popular rides, especially those for the smallest kids where seating is limited, or come early or after 4pm, when the gardens thin out before the night time crowd, who come for the concerts and upmarket restaurants that are as much part of the park as the grill stands.
Tivoli’s founder Georg Carstensen always said the place would never be finished and the gardens make additions at the opening of each season. Sometimes this is a new ride; for 2012, this was a stronger focus on Tivoli’s musical offers for young people, including shows, musicals and the Friday rock program.
Those expecting a funfair atmosphere may be pleasantly surprised by the culinary offerings in the gardens, that span hot dogs to Michelin stars. Regardless of gastronomic standards, healthy eating and consideration for the environment is in focus, from low-fat fries to the new deposit scheme on plastic cups, which should not be thrown away; instead, place in the machines dotted around the park and redeem the DKK 5 deposit you were charged earlier.