Dominic Picksley travelled to Billund in Denmark to literally step foot inside the original Legoland – read more from his family break
Billund. The Mecca of Lego. The small, unassuming Danish town where carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen created one of the world’s most iconic brands of toys early in the 20th century. And there we were, peering through the windows of his former home just yards from the Lego House, a 21st century creation which pays homage to the plastic building bricks.
Benjamin, my son, and a massive Lego fan, spotted the house as we strode down Hovedgaden, the main street of this most peculiar, suburbanite place. And for a town that attracts over three million tourists a year, the centre of Billund was remarkably quiet and unassuming. But walk half a mile down the road to Legoland, the company’s original theme park, and it’s an entirely different story.
A Lego adventure
We begun our Denmark adventure at the Legoland Castle Hotel, spending two nights in a regally-themed room. And then it was into Legoland itself, experiencing the thrills of Knight’s Kingdom, Flying Eagle, Ice Pilots School, Polar X-Plorer (beware the sudden drop!), Vikings River Splash and X-treme Racers, along with a ride up the Tower, which gives you breathtaking views.
While in Legoland, you can almost touch the planes as they fly overhead in and out of Billund airport, built by Lego in 1964. Manchester is just an hour away with Ryanair and it literally took us five minutes in our Europcar-hired car to reach the hotel.
Of course, no trip to Billund is complete without a trip to the uniquely-designed Lego House, opened only two years ago. The sight of an enormous 15-metre high Lego tree, consisting of over six million bricks, is a sight to behold as you stride into the Square.
There are various levels to explore, all with different ‘zones’, where you can create your own models, direct a Lego stop-motion movie, build a fish and then bring it to life and marvel at the many fantastically-constructed Lego sets. When you’re ready to eat, you can ‘build your own meal’ in the ‘Mini Chef’ restaurant, using different coloured Lego bricks, and have a robot serve it to you. And the fun’s not just on the inside, there are also 13 roof terraces on the building’s exterior equipped with various play areas and fantastic views of the town and beyond.
More than Lego – Lalandia
Billund is not just about Lego though.
The mini-tropolis of Lalandia is a favourite resort destination for many families.
Hundreds of traditional Danish lodges are set among parkland on the outskirts of the town, with a huge complex at its hub, complete with permanent blue sky, Roman-Style amphitheatre and a distinct Mediterranean feel to the place.
You can make your way – as most people do – to the fantastic Aquadome, or you can pop along to the Winter Wonderland and do a spot of skiing or rock climbing, have a game of bowling or mini golf, or burn off some energy in Monky Tonky land.
As we were staying on site for three nights in a lovely, and well-equipped, two-bedroom lodge, we spent the best part of a day splashing and sliding down the various water rides in the Aquadome.
Just 20 minutes away by car is Givskud Zoo – part zoo, part safari park. It is home to a multitude of species. We were able to get up close and personal with the lions in a special behind-the-scenes tour of their stable block. Standing with our guide Sophie, a former TV newsreader, just a couple of feet away from these majestic creatures, they barely batted an eyelid at our presence as we stood and gazed at them in awe.
Next we headed to the west coast to Tirpitz, Hitler’s underground bunker during World War II, which has been renovated and turned into a museum. It was really interesting to see the War from the ‘enemy’ perspective and what the German soldiers had to go through.
After Tirpitz, it was on to our third and final base of the week, a lovely apartment at Ribe Byferie, a holiday village on the outskirts of Denmark’s oldest town, Ribe. Ribe Byferie was like an amalgam of Amsterdam and Coronation Street – from the front you had a splendid river view and from the back you could see the back yards of your neighbours, interspersed with more cobbled streets, but this had a far more upmarket feel than Weatherfield.
From Ribe, the Wadden Sea Centre is only a 10-minute drive and after a wander around the town, dominated by the 12th century cathedral, we drove to the attraction that marvels at the wonders of the ocean and all the wildlife associated with it.
And finally, there was the Viking Centre, a recreation of a settlement as it would have looked during the time of Denmark’s most famous inhabitants. We were shown around the village by our very own guide, while the children got to make their own bread, mint a coin each and hear tales of yore from a time when these Scandinavian warriors ruled the roost and their women kept the home fires burning, aided by the odd slave or two.
There was just time to follow the famous Night Watchman around Ribe in our last evening there, as he regaled tales of the town’s historic past, and the next day we journeyed back to Billund and home, but not before one last play at the Lego House.
Where to stay
Lalandia offers a holiday cottage for two persons for two nights from around £340 (access to the water park included)
LEGOLAND Castle Hotel offers double rooms from around £150.
Ribe Byferie Hotel offers holiday apartments (sleeps 2-4 people) from around £100
What to do
Explore Scandinavia’s largest waterpark Lalandia. Adult ticket £35, child ticket £28 (3-11 years).
Visit the original LEGOLAND.Adult/child ticket £49.
Discover a world of bricks in LEGO House.Adult/child ticket £28
Say hello to the animals in Givskud Zoo. Adult ticket £26, child ticket £14 (3-11 years)
Get close to nature in the Danish North Sea Nature Park and the Wadden Sea Centre.
Wadden Sea Centre: adult ticket £12, child ticket £6 (4-14 years)
Live like the Vikings in the Viking Centre in Ribe. Adult ticket £16, child ticket £8 (3-13)
Travel back in history at Tirpitz. Adult ticket £18, child ticket (below 18) free
See the modern architecture with Fjordenhus and the Wave in Vejle.
How to get there
British Airways has daily (except Saturday) flights from Manchester to Billund from around £75 per person one way.
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