If you requested your youngster to plan the right holiday, what wouldn’t it appear like? Lots of pool time? An opportunity to play all day? Animal sights? There are loads of locations that may spring to thoughts, however a small inland Danish city might be not amongst them.
Billund in Jutland, nevertheless, has not one however three main attracts for households: the world’s first Legoland, opened in 1968; Scandinavia’s greatest water park, Lalandia; and, since September, the Lego House. On high of that, in a stroke of genius, the city has renamed itself Capital of Children. Much greater than a intelligent slogan, Capital of Children is an organisation arrange by the Lego company and the native council, tasked with making Billund essentially the most child-friendly place to dwell and work, not simply in Denmark, however within the world.
In follow, this implies native youngsters are invited to planning conferences to provide their enter on new outside areas, services, similar to the youngsters’s library the place youngsters can clamber over the e book cabinets, and safer routes by way of the city. “It’s about including kids in deciding what kind of society we would like to live in,” Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, a former government minister and now CEO of Capital of Children, instructed me.
For the customer, the obvious manifestation of this bold venture is the Lego House (grownup/Three-12 years £24, under-3s free). It’s a gleaming white architectural surprise that appears as if a large has been taking part in with outsized Lego bricks, and which Sahl-Madsen describes because the Lego household’s “gift to the Capital of Children”. The Guardian’s structure critic, Oliver Wainwright, had already praised its good design – the interlocking blocks, brick-like wall tiles and brightly colored terraces – so after I took my seven-year-old son over October half-term, I knew that we had been in for a visible deal with. What I hadn’t anticipated was that there could be a lot to do contained in the constructing we’d find yourself spending eight hours there.
The Lego House from above. Photograph: Rex
There is a real wow issue within the colossal Lego tree (6½ million bricks) that dominates the centre of the indoor ‘square’, and within the creations dreamed up by Lego tremendous followers – often known as “Afols” (grownup followers of Lego). But the true thrill for kids is getting access to 25 million Lego bricks. Friendly employees sporting Lego determine title badges wander the “experience zones”, gently steering youngsters in direction of actions – and keeping track of the adults, too; there’s no skulking within the nook scrolling your cellular right here. We made flowers for Lego gardens, frogs on lily pads and vehicles that we raced on a monitor. We competed in robotic video games, and even performed by way of lunch: diners construct their order in bricks, then watch their meal being ‘made’ in an on display screen animation earlier than it’s delivered in a Lego-style field by robots. Even the exhibition on the historical past of the Lego company had us engrossed. Did that the unique Lego bricks couldn’t lock collectively
Visitor numbers are anticipated to soar in July and August, when a timed entry system will function, however in October half-term I may depend on one hand the variety of individuals in every room.
As household journeys go, Billund was turning out to be a breeze, with queue-free sights, and straightforward driving … . At Legoland (one-day go grownup £43, youngster £40), we walked straight on to each journey, returning to some for a second go simply because we may. And then there’s Lalandia. This huge leisure centre – proper subsequent door – has by some means slipped underneath the radar of British vacationers. Of the 723,000 guests to its Aquadome (grownup £32, youngster Three-12 years £26, underneath 3s free) in 2016, lower than 2% had been from the UK.
The waterslides and swimming pools of Lalandia. Photograph: Gils Søren Lambert
To enter the revolving door of Lalandia is to swap the true world for a windowless, Vegas-style mega zone, with painted blue skies, a “street” of cafes and outlets, a mini-amphitheatre and a head-spinning variety of actions: ice-skating to bowling, loopy golf to climbing and video games arcades. Without a doubt the spotlight is the Aquadome. We spent a day splashing round within the 4 swimming pools and 6 waterslides, and driving fats tubes on big inflatables. When we had been spewed out of the Tornado slide, my son had a manic grin on his face. “My body hates it but my brain loves it!” he squealed.
Lalandia is completely naff, so naturally youngsters like it. But the on-site cottages exhibit the Danish aptitude for cool, calming areas. In higher climate, we’d have made use of our terrace and the playgrounds dotted concerning the website.
When we’d had our fill of Lego and waterslides, we moved on, first to Givskud zoo (grownup £24, Three-11 years £12, under-3s free) – a safari park with the bonus of 40 life-size dinosaurs – after which to the close by city of Vejle. Sitting on the high of a fjord on Jutland’s east coast and flanked by woods, and a uncommon (for Denmark) hill, Vejle is fashionable for outside actions. In summer season households descend on the seashores dotted alongside both facet of the fjord. This being Scandinavia the courageous proceed to swim by way of the winter and final month a sauna opened on Tirsbaek seaside. Recently, the city has gained a status for placing structure: the award-winning Bølgen (Wave), a row of 5 undulating condominium buildings, overlooks the harbour, and one other architectural marvel: the floating Vejle Kayak Club. We admired each from Remouladen, a classy restaurant named Lunch Restaurant of the Year by a Danish publication in 2012, with views of the waterfront, chairs with sheepskin throws and a menu that includes open sandwiches, a Danish speciality. I humiliated myself by asking for a youngsters’ meal – to maintain the price down – however was politely refused and opted as an alternative for Faroese smoked salmon on rye bread topped with tiny items of chopped apple. Pricey at £10 however scrumptious.
Bølgen in Vejle. Photograph: Mads Hansen
With 10 museums, Vejle punches nicely above its weight culturally. The Museum of Cultural History shares area in a former cotton mill with arts studios and start-ups and is the resting place of Haraldskær Woman, a bathroom physique relationship from 490BC and found in 1835. She could also be a tough promote for teenagers after Lego and Lalandia, however mother and father will admire a cut price lunch within the cafe. Between midday and 1pm, there’s a small buffet of freshly made dishes for round £eight a head, or half of that for simply the soup.
Kolding, half an hour to the south, is one other small city with a thriving cultural scene. Its Trapholt design museum is its best-known arts venue however households shouldn’t miss Nicolai for Børn, a youngsters’s centre providing inventive actions and a laid-back restaurant embellished with movie posters additionally with a buffet (the Danes appear to like the all-you-can-eat idea) lunch. We stayed at Kolding Hotel Apartments, with trendy interiors and views of the floodlit 16th-century fort.
With continuous leisure, this journey was at all times going to be a winner with my son. I’m already planning a return go to – this time in summer season, to benefit from the east and west coasts (each inside simple attain). Billund could also be Capital of Children however Jutland may actually lay declare to being essentially the most kid-friendly place in Europe for holidays.
• Flights and lodging had been supplied by Visit Denmark. Ryanair presently has flights for May half-term 2018 for £75 and BA for £83 return. Airbnb has a flat for 4 within the centre of Billund for £61 an evening
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