As we are in full swing of celebrating winter holidays, my mind is still with fall holidays.
Who doesn’t love Halloween? You can get all dressed up and get candy or go out to a party, then spend the next day nursing a hangover with some free chocolate. I was always a fan of dressing up in homemade costumes when I was younger, that I think I’m reliving that excitement a bit with my daughter, Evie. I get really excited about costuming, and she gets really excited about candy… although, she doesn’t really eat a lot of it (still has candy from last year), but Peabe and I get into her stash every now and then when we need something sweet.
This year, as we were going to be in Scandinavia, I was worried about how she would take the news of not dressing up, trick or treating, or getting candy. Did Danish people even celebrate the holiday? Will she even know that it’s Halloween at all?
Feeling a little guilty about missing it, we decided to take her to the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli Gardens. (The oldest park is coincidently also in Denmark.) It’s something we wanted to see anyway, but when I did the research, I came to find out they decorate the park in fall/pumpkin/Halloween themes for the end of October. We were back to being excited about the holiday again.
Luckily, the curators at Bumby Box found super cute animal masks as we didn’t have the time or luggage space to be messing around with a full on traveling costume. We brought a puppy and a mouse mask, and are happy to report we used both in Scandinavia. (The puppy mask was used in a Halloween parade in Stockholm the week after.)
Tivoli Gardens is actually a great place to visit on regular days, without the holiday, but how they transformed it makes me not want to celebrate another American Halloween again. We all had a blast despite the crummy cold weather with the on and off rain. There was actually a surprising amount to see and do in the park which sits, so unassuming, inside the city.
For my four year old, it was the perfect place to expose her to a lot of new things while still giving her the holiday she wanted. I would love to do Halloween here again one year, and here are all the reasons why:
10- Creativity in Costumes
Costumes were all around, and they were mostly all homemade. Kids are generally super cute in costume, and this is no exception. Seeing the kids all getting excited about each other’s costume was nice too. Evie had gray clothes to match her mouse mask, but it was barely seen under her coat. The mask was the least imaginative costume at the park, but I also didn’t want to fuss over a dragging an additional outfit on vacation with us. We didn’t stay until the end, but they have a parade of all the costumes, and all ages come out to participate. You may see a cute little toddler in her colorful tutu or an adult in full on zombie gear, apparently there are a lot of costumes on display.
9- Animals on the Loose
I’m not usually a fan of animals being loose around little kids, but when they are super cute and not so harmful, I’m ok. I actually followed this female peacock around and kept thinking it reminds me of the loose and wild turkeys of Oakland (another fall reminder because of Thanksgiving). The main lake inside the park draws a lot of really unique birds to the park, and you can even feed the giant koi inside… perfect for the little ones.
8- Hans Christian Andersen
Most kids understand fairytales based on Disney revisions of it. Even if Evie wasn’t allowed to see the Disney films, she would probably see the merchandising all around or even learn a song/storyline from a classmate at school. As she worked her way through a small-world-esque ride, she saw the inspiration for a lot of these movies. With colorful dioramas of the original stories, she understood that there was a connection, that this Danish guy had written some stories for children and they were so good that they are used and reused through time. Because she understands this bit of literary history, one can only hope she understands inspiration or being inspired. I also hope one day we can read those stories together.
Definitely not your ordinary carnival rides. Set up for different ages, some Evie needed us to ride with her and some she was okay on her own. A funny thing to take note of is that they trust kids a little more than what I’ve seen at some parks back home. Also, another thing to note… Danish kids are a lot taller than my daughter. She could barely reach the pedals on the boat she was driving and basically hit every other boat and bumper on that ride.
Scandinavia in general has so many play spaces, green spaces, and kid-friendly areas, that I didn’t think they would be able to do much to one-up that. The play areas in Tivoli were really cool. They challenged her motor skills and even plants some early seeds of other development. She freaked out on a springed platform wiggling under her weight. I saw her little face go from terror and insecurity, to an understanding of how to move her body to adjust for the springs. How to get lower or wider to create her own stability. These things may not seem like much, but it’s teaching her some early scientific concepts. I saw her climb a metal cage in light rain, carefully accounting for the slippery steps. I do think the safety of American playgrounds loose a little bit of teaching risk management, that’s why I believe nature is the best playground. That being said, to see a playground that had metal elements was refreshing.
The park was fully dressed in fall colors, various pumpkins, and Halloween garb and not in a tacky way. I compare the park to what Fairyland in Oakland is like but with Disneyland money. It has an old, almost antique feel to it, without feeling too plastic or manufactured. The colors and pumpkins were real, and gave the place a super homestyle feeling. Attention to details were all around, even when it came to the rides; the panels in the carousel’s fascia have been swapped out to be in theme and the interiors of some of the rides had fall decor.
Yes, we didn’t have to miss the fun after all! Tivoli had the option for kids to pay a small fee and get a card and bag in the front. The card was a list of the participating food stalls, cafes, and restaurants inside the park who have some treats for the little ones. They mark the card so kids don’t keep going back for more. The whole thing turned into a really fun scavenger hunt of sorts where we were all checking our maps and asking around to find the next place.
3- Glühwein aka Glögg aka Mulled Wine
Life changing. How did I ever do winters in Chicago without this? You can’t help but take notice to the smells of the spices in the wine as you go through the park, but to have a warm cup when the day got colder or when the rain started up again, it felt recharging in a way. The only thing that I opted out of was the mix of walnuts and raisins that they throw into it… that sounded unappealing, like a soggy sangria. We enjoyed the mulled wine while Evie had some warm apple cider.
From the bubble fountains in front of the Moorish Palace to the venetian-looking pantomime shows in the Chinese-themed open air theater. We had kick out of the hammerhead shark hanging off the pirate ship in the lake, with the giant dragonflies flying over the koi fish. The place is beautifully created to have fun and unexpected elements through the whole park.
This Norwegian and Danish word is one of those that I wish there was an English equivalent. It translates to a warm and cozy feeling, something that gives you happiness and safety, and promotes well-being and kinship. It could be considered charming or intimate. It’s the warm glögg on a rainy day or real pumpkins around a theme park. The word can mean something so little and minimal, but the psychology behind the item or act makes it anything but. Many things around the park gave me this feeling, and it’s that missing element in most businesses (or relationships) elsewhere. It is the thought to have some warm blankets on your chair, just in case you want to sit and just get cozy. What an amazing thought, we all need more hygge in our lives.