Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Build an adventure at Legoland

Legoland.  A children's playground.  A cornucopia of little plastic bricks.  A perfect half-term break.

With flights to Denmark from the UK being at cheap as £14 return, why go to Legoland Windsor when you could visit the very birthplace of the phenomenon?  Legoland Billund is literally just a hop, skip and a jump away from the airport; as the flight lands, you taxi alongside the fence dividing the runway from the primary-coloured fantasia.  Flying into Billund was so easy. An hour in the air from the UK and you are transported to a fresh and simple country with so much to offer a family holiday.  
At the end of this summer, we enjoyed a few days in Denmark and savoured the Danish culture.  And what a culture it is!  Such a laidback country with its eyes set firmly on enjoying the great outdoors and taking life at a slower pace. 
Legoland was everything and more.  A carbon copy of its English cousin, Legoland Billund offers all the thrills of Windsor but it seems more authentic and wholesome.  To be surrounded by other Lego enthusiasts and to know that the factory is just over the road adds another dimension to the trip.  When Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys in 1932, I very much doubt he expected the global success which followed.  The brand name of lego is derived from the Danish phrase 'leg godt' which translates as 'play well' and indeed we did!
A sure fire hit with the kids, the lure of Legoland Billund is even better when you work out when the Danish families go back to school.  When the Danes are back at school, Legoland becomes deserted.  The day we visited saw us and a smattering of German families with the same idea!  There were no queues for any rides and the shop was empty.  It turns out that the Danish schools return mid-August, leaving the latter days for British families keen to get their fix of plastic.
And as for minimising costs, I have the perfect plan.  Just as we have the 2-for-1 vouchers on cereal boxes in the UK, the Danish and Germans have similar offers and a quick ebay search produces such deals for only a euro.  For our trip, I sourced a fistful of vouchers which meant that our kids went free into Legoland, with lots of vouchers left over to dish out to other families at the payement booths.  It is worth noting, however, that the opening hours of Legoland do alter towards the end of August so a quick check on their website site is recommended.  In addition to an empty theme park, another incentive of this trip is that there are often good deals for the Legoland hotel online for the latter days of the summer.  If your dream is to sleep in a bunkbed made of lego, then this is a holiday foryou!

Just an hour's drive north of Billund is the wonderful city of Aarhus.  Jutland's main city houses Moesgard Museum which is an amazing collection of Danish history.  We made the journey to pay our respects to the 2000 year old Grauballe Man, who was found in the peat bogs of the country in 1952 and whose body had been perfectly preserved by the nutrients of the land.  He is perfectly intact, complete with fingernails and a shock of hair.  The exhibit features a graphic video of his (presumed) death and visitors can even see a reconstruction of his murder/sacrifice, leaving the kids to imagine the brutality of the Iron Age.
Another history lesson unlike no other came just outside the city of Odense, the birthplace of Hans Chritian Andersen and only 100 kilmoetres from Legoland.  A few miles off the main thoroughfare in Odense is Ladbyskibet and the compelling Vikingemuseet.  Here, Viking history truly comes to life and the children can get up close to an original warship, the grave for a cheftain.  Buried with all his worldly possessions, including his sacrificed horses, the skeleton of the boat is still underground.  Beneath the green grass of a Viking burial mound, the visit to the grave is an eerie subterreanean experience and surprisingly moving.  To be so connected to over 1000 years of history is spell-binding.  To the foreground of the mound is an informative museum which fills in the gaps of your Danish history.
So, a jaunt across the North Sea offers a family all sorts of Danish delights.  With change from £500 for a family break, Billund is a holiday plan waiting to be built - brick by brick!

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