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Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens (or simply Tivoli) is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. The park opened on August 15, 1843 and is the second oldest amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearbyKlampenborg. Tivoli is currently the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the 3rd most visited in Europe.

The amusement park was first called “Tivoli & Vauxhall”; “Tivoli” alluding to the Jardin de Tivoli in Paris (which in its turn had been named from Tivoli near Rome), and “Vauxhall” alluding to the Vauxhall Gardens in London. Tivoli’s founder, Georg Carstensen (b. 1812 – d. 1857), obtained a five-year charter to create Tivoli by telling King Christian VIII that “when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics”. The monarch granted Carstensen use of roughly 15 acres (61,000 m²) of the fortified glacis outside Vesterport (the West Gate) at the annual rent of 945 kroner. Therefore, until the 1850s, Tivoli was outside the city, accessible through Vesterport. From the very start, Tivoli included a variety of attractions: buildings in the exotic style of an imaginary Orient: a theatre, band stands, restaurants and cafés, flower gardens, and mechanical amusement rides such as a merry-go-roundand a primitive scenic railway. After dark, coloured lamps illuminated the gardens. On certain evenings, specially designed fireworks could be seen reflected in Tivoli’s lake.

Composer Hans Christian Lumbye (b. 1810 – d. 1874) was Tivoli’s musical director from 1843 to 1872. Lumbye was inspired by Viennese waltz composers like the Strauss family (Johann Strauss I and his sons), and became known as the “Strauss of the North.” Many of his compositions are specifically inspired by the gardens, including “Salute to the Ticket Holders of Tivoli”, “Carnival Joys” and “A Festive Night at Tivoli”. The Tivoli Symphony Orchestra still performs many of his works.

In 1874, Chinese style Pantomimeteatret (The Pantomime Theatre) took the place of an older smaller theater. The audience stands in the open, the stage being inside the building. The theatre’s “curtain” is a mechanical peacock’s tail. From the very beginning, the Theater was the home of Italian pantomimes, introduced in Denmark by the Italian Giuseppe Casorti. This tradition, which is dependent on the Italian Commedia dell’Arte has been kept alive, including the characters Cassander (the old father), Columbine (his beautiful daughter), Harlequin (her lover), and, especially popular with the youngest spectators, the stupid servant Pierrot. The absence of spoken dialogue is an advantage, as Tivoli is now an international tourist attraction.

In 1943, Nazi sympathisers attempted to break the Danish people’s spirit by burning many of Tivoli’s buildings, including the concert hall, to the ground. Undaunted, the Danes built temporary buildings, and the park was back in operation after a few weeks. Tivoli is always evolving without abandoning its original charm or traditions. As Georg Carstensen said in 1844, “Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished,” a sentiment echoed just over a century later when Walt Disney said of his own Tivoli-inspired theme park, “Disneyland will never be finished as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Walt Disney during a trip overseas with his wife Lilly visited Tivoli Gardens. Walt was so impressed with the Danish amusement park, he immediately decided Disneyland should try to emulate its “happy and unbuttoned air of relaxed fun.”

Rides

The park is best known for its wooden roller coaster, Rutsjebanen or as some people call it Bjerg Banen (Mountain Track), built in 1914 in Malmö, Sweden. It is one of world’s oldest wooden roller coasters that is still operating today. An operator controls the ride by braking down the hills so it won’t gain too much speed. It is an ACE Coaster Classic. Dæmonen, The Demon, features an Immelmann loop, a loop, and a Zero-G roll all during the ride time of just one minute and forty six seconds. The old roller coaster, Slangen, was removed to have enough space for The Demon. The roller coaster is situated next to the concert hall. The world’s tallest carousel, Himmelskibet, opened in Tivoli in 2006. Eighty meters high and built by the Austrian company Funtime, it offers panoramic views of the city.

Tivoli Concert Hall

Tivoli Concert Hall is a classical concert hall featuring concerts with some of the largest names in international classical music. It was built in 1956 by Hans Hansen and sits 1660 people. In 2005 the concert hall saw a major renovation and extension by 3XN where the classical 50’s style of the main auditorium—including a characteristic colour scheme of red, blue, yellow and green colours—was restored, while visitor facilities were upgraded and expanded. These include a new gardenside foyer with a two-story bar and lounge and Europe’s longest saltwater aquarium in the basement. The Eurovision Song Contest 1964 was broadcast from the auditorium.

The Pantomime Theatre

The pantomime theatre is an open-air theatre designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup, also known for the design of the Royal Danish Theatre. It is a toy-like historicist built in Chinese style and noted for its mechanical front curtain that takes five men to operate and unfolds like a peacock’s tail. As indicated by the name, it is primarily a scene for pantomime theatre in the classical Italian commedia dell’arte tradition, which is performed daily with a live pit orchestra. Besides this original function, the theatre leads a second life as a venue for ballet and modern dance, performing works by choreographers such as August Bournonville, Dinna Bjørn, Louise Midjord and Paul James Rooney.

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