With the theme park season drawing to a close in many countries and people forced to stay home again, we thought we’d bring you a brand new article series. Expect regular updates from myself as we explore one of the most beautiful, cultural and historical regions of Europe: Scandinavia!
We’ll be taking you from Norway across to Finland, through Sweden and then down to Denmark. We’ll be providing you with detailed insights and top tips into the theme parks each of these countries has to offer. We will also be diving into which rollercoasters and attractions you aren’t going to want to miss out on. So grab a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and enjoy!
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Welcome back everyone. We’ve just landed at Aarhus airport, which is a pretty small airport located not too far from Aarhus, a city on the east coast of Denmark. Once you’ve collected your bags and left the arrivals terminal, it’s a short walk to the bus stop where you will board a direct bus to the city centre. The bus journey takes around an hour and is the only connection outside paying for a private taxi, so this isn’t too convenient. However, if you plan visiting elsewhere in Denmark it might be worth considering flying to a different city and getting a train to Aarhus, as these connections can be better. Aarhus is actually the second largest city in Denmark and is a harbour city meaning it’s one of the most beautiful in Scandinavia.
There’s so much to see and do in the city of Aarhus, making it one of my favourite cities that I’ve visited in Europe. The city is host to a wide range of museums, including an art museum, as well as botanical gardens and greenhouses. It’s also home to the Marselisborg Deer Park, where you can bring your own carrots and feed the deer in an expansive and beautiful setting. However, my personal favourite landmark is known as Den Uendelige Bro, or “The infinite bridge” in English, which is located on Ballehage beach and provides beautiful views out to sea and over to the harbour areas of Aarhus. It’s also located pretty near to the amusement park we are stopping by at this evening for a look around.
The city of Aarhus boasts an amusement park which is located only a 30 minute walk away from the city centre or a direct bus ride to the gates. Aarhus also boasts a direct transport link to another theme park. We’ll be looking at the former today and the latter in part 8 of the series. The park we are visiting today, located so close to the city centre is called Tivoli Friheden. It’s worth not getting mixed up here with Tivoli Gardens, which is an amusement park located in Copenhagen. These two parks are completely different places and owned by different companies. Once you’ve bought either a park entry ticket to walk around or an unlimited ride wristband, you enter through the park gates and are greeted with the view which you can see in the photo below.
From first impressions you’re probably getting the vibe that this is a really small and quaint amusement park. That’s partially true, as there’s not much here in terms of rides and attractions. However, the park regularly host concerts and other forms of entertainment which are included in park entry and boost the annual gate figure to over 365,000. Tivoli Friheden opened in 1903 and has gradually made improvements and investments as the years have passed, although expansion room is limited. The park’s main season only runs from April to October, although they do also run Christmas events. When we visited, the park only opened at 17:00, so it’s not a whole day park and more of an evening affair. As you enter the park you are greeted with various plantings, light installations and a carousel on the left hand side known as Frihedskarrusellen.
As we already discussed, Tivoli Friheden is a pretty small and quaint park, mostly visited by a local audience rather than a national or an international one. The park somewhat subverted my expectations, as I expected more in the way of garden areas, detailing and decoration like Tivoli Gardens over in Copenhagen. I knew in advance that the attraction offering was very limited, but there were a couple of key attractions that I wanted to check out which we will get onto in a minute. Despite the park not being overwhelmed with detailing or theming, there were a couple of nice areas, either scenic or detailed with theming which gave the park more of a quality feel. For example, I love these little spiral fountains which are located next to the park’s centrepiece attraction.
The park’s centrepiece/main attraction is definitely the ferris wheel, which is known as Pariserhjulet. This ferris wheel has a lovely red, white and blue colour scheme and soars high above Tivoli Friheden with a hot air balloon style theme. Each of the individual cars are detailed as hot air balloons and it actually looks really pretty and suits the park really nicely among the surrounding trees and buildings. I didn’t actually ride this attraction, however I regret it now as I’m sure it would have given some lovely views over the rest of the park.
Once you’ve wandered into the centre of the park you reach a hub of the park featuring shops, different restaurants and places to eat. There’s a range of different fast food options, various different market stalls dotted around the place selling things like fish and chips and also upmarket sit down restaurants where you can go for a full meal before an evening concert. There’s also various bar stalls around the place for people to go and get a drink before a concert starts in the evening. In the centre of the park you have an area with a set of dancing fountains. Quite a common feature for European theme parks however nonetheless looks very pretty and suits Tivoli Friheden very well. From the central square you also get nice views over towards the front entrance of the park and the ferris wheel, which makes for a nice photo with the fountains in the front and ferris wheel in the background.
There’s a bit of a recurring theme in Tivoli Friheden and that is the fact that the park features a lot of water. Whether it’s dancing water fountains, streams running through the park or various lakes which host water based attractions on them. In fact, the park is actually home to 53819 square feet (5000 square metres) of space occupied by water such as lakes or rivers running through the park. This was probably one of my favourite things about the park, and also meant the park was riddled with bridges crossing over the different streams and lakes and the a lot of the attractions were located around or on the water.
Below is probably one of my favourite photos I took in Tivoli Friheden and was definitely one of the most charming and picturesque spots that I came across in this little amusement park. It’s taken from one of the bridges crossing a stream to another section of the park and looks onto another little bridge crossing over the stream. I love the foliage which surrounds the water at Tivoli Friheden, especially the weeping willow trees which hang down dramatically over the water. I also love the use of the flower boxes attached to the bridge itself which really add a lot of charm as you cross over the stream and makes for stunning photos. This section of Tivoli Friheden really reminded me of a botanical garden or the like with all of the dramatic depth of foliage surrounding the water. I just wish the rest of the park had been quite as charming as this little section.
Anyway, onto talk about some thrill rides. In all honesty I hadn’t done that much research into what to expect in terms of thrill rides at Tivoli Friheden. There’s a couple, but not many and in fact the park mostly has rides for younger kids even though the concerts are aimed at an older audience such as teenagers and young adults. The park also features two indoor experiences; a 5D cinema and a haunted house, both which aren’t worth talking about. However, probably my favourite ride in the park was brand new for 2019 and is called Hjertekig. Just to be clear, I have absolutely no clue how this is pronounced either!
Hjertekig is a 213 feet (65m) tall drop tower and provides stunning views of the city of Aarhus, out to the harbour and port areas, over the sea and over a dense woodland region which is situated near to the park and is home to the deer park. It is a gyro drop tower meaning that the car rotates on the way up and therefore provides you with 360 degree views out from the park. It’s manufactured by Ride Engineers Switzerland (RES), a company I personally haven’t come across much before. This drop tower pulls a positive force of 5G which is surprising and is actually one of the best drop towers I’ve ever ridden. The reason I think that it rides so well is because it features lap bars which means the amount of air time is phenomenal. Easily one of my favourite drop towers and I couldn’t stop re-riding it!
Tivoli Friheden is actually home to four rollercoasters, which is quite a significant amount for a park of such a small size. For coaster enthusiasts though, most of them are really nothing to get excited about and that is exactly the reason I won’t dwell on them for too long. The newest addition to the park is an SBF Visa family spinning coaster, known as Bisværmen. Additionally, the park has a Pinfari caterpillar/wacky worm which is known as Dragen. The park is also home to Tyfonen, which is a Zamperla spinning coaster with a strange sound barrier to prevent from too much noise from the rollercoaster to local residents. However, the park’s main coaster is known as Cobra and we’re going to go into a bit more detail about it as it is definitely the most intriguing ride in the park.
Ok so to start off with Cobra is manufactured by Satori, with the coaster model being known as “Energizer”. Satori isn’t a very well known company and despite this coaster opening in 2008, it actually went SBNO for a year before reopening in 2009. In front of the coaster there’s also a very un-aesthetically pleasing sound barrier like on Tyfonen to prevent noise pollution, meaning you can only really take photos from the side. This coaster was definitely a reason of intrigue from the park for me, especially with the fact it has such a short train and only seats 10 riders at a time. It actually opened up late due to technical problems but they did manage to get it operating. To keep things short and sweet here, this coaster was pretty damn awful. It features 3 inversions in a really compact layout, but it’s so so jolty! This rollercoaster has to be one of the worst inverts I’ve done due to constant jolting and head banging. It’s completely disorientating though. On a positive note, I actually really like the orange and black colour scheme of the ride.
After trying out the park’s rollercoaster offering, we wandered over to the back left-hand corner of the park which has the largest lake in the park, where guests can get into a swan themed pedalo and have a relaxing explore across the lake. The lake is surrounded by lots of trees and foliage including more willow trees and looks really beautiful in the sunset with the golden sunshine reflecting off the water. You can also notice in the backdrop of the photo below another little bridge which takes you across to the other side of the lake, where there are picnic benches with little canopies over them, meaning guests can sit and eat their food whilst enjoying stunning views over the lake and watch people in the pedalos on the water.
I briefly mentioned earlier in the article that Tivoli Friheden hosts various entertainment, mainly in the form of concerts. This seems to be a common feature across the Scandinavian parks, as if you remember from previous articles both Gröna Lund and Liseberg in Sweden also regularly host artists for performances to live audiences. The concert arena is located pretty close to the lake with the swan pedalos, however a bit more central and located closer to various restaurants and fast food outlets. There was already a crowd forming for the concert that evening, as a popular Danish artist called BRO was to perform that evening. We actually watched the concert and it was really good fun- a great live performance with lots of cool pyrotechnic effects as well!
In the photo below you can see a shot which was taken from towards the back of the park, nearer towards the picturesque lake with the pedalos and the concert arena. I think the park actually has a really nice skyline, which is evidenced by this photo, and some really tall attractions! On the left hand side you can see Hjertekig, which is the 65m tall gyro drop tower which we already elaborated on. On the right hand side you can see Sky Tower. Now strangely, at the time I really didn’t pay much attention to Sky Tower. It’s not something that I did and I barely noticed it to be honest as I was quite pre-occupied with discovering the rest of the park. It’s an up-charge attraction even if you’ve bought the unlimited wristband but it’s certainly one for adrenaline junkies. Sky Tower stands at 131 feet tall (40m) and is an experience where a person is dropped down 10 stories in a back-first free-fall experience. On reflection, this looks pretty insane and extremely intense and thrilling, so it’s one of the attractions to check out if you’re a thrill seeker and heading to Tivoli Friheden.
As I was saying a little bit earlier in the article, there’s various different water features and fountains located around the park. The fountain in the photo below is also located quite near to the concert arena and is detailed with vibrant flowers around the edge. These little details such as various flowers planted around the place provide a classy and charming vibe to the park, as it’s actually pretty upmarket on the whole in terms of food and drinks and the park’s layout and scenery. Unfortunately though, the rides themselves are a bit outdated and need some more attention and care. The fountain in the photo below is one of the more interesting ones- I’m not quite sure what it’s trying to depict.
So a little bit more talk about the park’s flat rides. Obviously we already took a look at the drop tower that the park boasts and there’s lots more kiddy flat rides and a waveswinger. The park is also home to a Gerstlauer Sky Racer which isn’t particularly interesting. However, the most notable flat ride at the time and the one I was most looking forward to has to be a crazy contraption known as Pegasus. Pegasus is a flat ride manufactured by Technical Park, somewhat similar to a Mondial topscan, however instead riders sit facing outwards and complete flips, twists and turns while the ride runs. Pegasus at Tivoli Friheden was known for it’s extremely long and intense cycle. However, when we visited, it was unfortunately closed, and looked like it had been for a long time. I was really upset to be spited by this flat ride as it was the ride I was most looking forward to in the park so it was a bit of a kick in the teeth. It’s now been replaced by a Technical Park Loopfighter which is a somewhat more boring and standard model for funfairs and amusement parks.
After trying out all the rides we wanted to and watching BRO’s live performance, we were done for the evening, even though the park was open for a little while longer until 23:00. Therefore, we headed out of the main gates to the bus stop so we could take a direct bus ride back to our hotel located in the city centre of Aarhus where we were staying for the night. The park actually looks really pretty in the dark, as there are various light installations dotted around and a lot of the rides light up with neon lighting, such as the ferris wheel. I would love to see what this park does with lighting for their Christmas event as I would imagine that they create something really magical.
Thanks for joining me today as we’ve explored a little around the city of Aarhus and Tivoli Friheden amusement park. To answer the all important question of whether I would recommend a trip to Tivoli Friheden is a difficult one. Some areas of the park, such as the lakes surrounded with plantings and willow trees with pedalo style attractions are really charming and provide a classy atmosphere to the park. However, a lot of the rides such as the haunted house and the rollercoasters feel very outdated and are in need of a lot of attention and care. That being said the brand new drop tower was incredible and the concert was a very well put show so it has to be said there are pros and cons to this park. I was quite upset that Pegasus was closed and that I’ve now missed my opportunity to experience such a unique attraction. If you’re interested to discover Aarhus, and also to discover another nearby park, Djurs Sommerland, then I definitely recommend throwing Tivoli Friheden into your itinerary.
As we just hinted a second ago in the next episode of my Scandinavia Series we will be setting off to Djurs Sommerland, which is only a bus ride away from the city centre of Aarhus. So join us in the next instalment to discover one of the largest theme parks in Denmark, which has some exciting rollercoasters and amazing theming!