“Mom,” says my son, leaning over the breakfast table in Billund’s Hotel Legoland and looking at me intently, “I don’t want to leave here. And if we have to go, we have to come back… soon.”
or for as long as we can remember – and despite living in a house crammed to the roof with plastic bricks – Arthur, now 11, wanted to stay in a Lego hotel.
It’s fair to say that the kids have had a pretty rough time over the last few years and it was time to infuse their lives with a big dose of fun – mask free and preferably with at least a short flight.
So you can imagine the look on his face when we told him we were going to Denmark to join Lego – where not only would he finally sleep in a real Legoland bedroom and poke fun at the original Legoland park, but he would also visit Lego House – a separate “experience center” with the added bonus of a playground spanning every section of its roof space.
In addition, we planned to create the ultimate kids’ outing by expanding into the simple beauty of southern Jutland, where treetop adventure parks, cooking food over a campfire and whizzing along the beaches in wind-powered go-karts promised to heal the pain left by the Lego mothership.
Ryanair flies from Dublin to Billund and British Airways has reopened its direct routes from the UK to the city, where Denmark’s lifting of Covid-related testing or mask-wearing requirements could almost make you forget there ever was a global pandemic.
Billund has a vision of becoming “the best city in the world for children” and my city would claim that it has already achieved this goal.
The small town offers tons of fun within easy walking distance, and our first stop is Lego House, where a central 16-meter-tall “Tree of Creativity” built from more than 6.3 million bricks takes a journey through four colored zones full of waterfalls, mountains and jungles, made of colored plastic but full of life and movement, and play areas designed to stimulate imagination and creativity.
Among a variety of activities, kids and adults alike can program robots and send them on a mission to find flowers for the bees, build fish and release them into a digital aquarium, and record their own stop-motion movies.
And the immersive experience extends into lunchtime, where the on-site Mini Chef restaurant lets visitors compose their own orders using Lego bricks before the food – tasty and healthy as is standard in Denmark – is delivered by dancing robots.
Outside, the building’s tiered block architecture — designed like Lego bricks — lures us down colorful steps to 13 rooftop terraces, each equipped with a playground.
And so, under a blue sky bouncing around the playground, we hear the first, inevitable “I don’t want to leave here.”
Fortunately, after falling asleep surrounded by a Lego Kingdom Room, the first thing in the morning is Legoland itself, where the relatively small park offers a day of unique and exciting rides.
We all vote one – the Polar X-plorer – our all-time favorite for its totally unexpected screaming moment and gorgeous views of the resident penguins. We enjoy it so much that we manage to ride it four times.
The park is immaculately maintained, the staff are all cheerful and friendly, and Duplo-Land itself offers a truly wondrous scene for its youngest visitors, with its colorful planes, trains and monorail.
Last year, the park opened four new attractions in its new Lego Movie World, including Emmet’s Flying Adventure Masters of Flight, in which you soar through the Lego Movie universe, and Apocalypseburg Sky Battle, in which you have a Duplo invasion with so much spinning and combat combat reverse action as you see fit.
A two-minute walk home through an airlift for Lego hotel guests would have ended our great day perfectly were it not for the desperate sobs we left Billund with the next morning.
Twelve hours later, the mood has only worsened. But we have a plan.
Our route from Billund ends after a 10-minute drive at WOW Park, a treetop adventure playground on an area the size of more than 40 football pitches.
The park, designed for all ages, is divided into six zones full of zip lines, giant nets, climbing paths and swings, all located in the highest branches of a forest.
The kids fly, disappearing and reappearing meters high in the air, jumping into giant nets and whizzing around on zip lines and swings. Helpfully, there are chill out zones for any older visitors who might be a little overwhelmed to show the little ones how it’s done and where you can take a moment to gaze up at the sky and listen to the birdsong to listen.
You could easily spend a whole day here and not experience all of the park’s special features, but we continue through southern Jutland towards the Wadden Sea National Park, where the unique biodiversity and intact ecosystem have led to the Danish area being a Unesco area World Heritage.
The peaceful space that stretches as far as the eye can see is the perfect antidote to the crowds of Legoland, but there’s also fun and adventure here. We meet Bente from Naturcenter Tonnisgaard, who takes us on a foraging trip to the beach, where we collect herbs and flowers for our campfire. For lunch, ‘Wadden Sea hot dogs’ are on the menu – sausages made from lamb grazed on the local salt marshes, in fresh, locally sourced bread, topped with mayonnaise and flavored with the morning’s harvest.
After lunch, it’s back to Romo beach where a stiff breeze provides the perfect conditions to try ‘blokarting’ in single-sail three-wheeled carts along the endless flat beach.
A short tutorial from operator KiteSyd’s instructors shows us how to steer the karts and race safely, and then we make our way towards a yellow flag in the distance, which can be reached in just a few minutes at breathtaking speed. There’s no stopping the kids as they weave their way through a regatta before circling the flag on two wheels and racing back to base with their parents. It’s great fun in a spectacular setting at the edge of the sea.
On our final afternoon, we head to the most luxurious campsite we’ve ever experienced in style.
Marsk Camp, a five-minute drive from Romo Beach, has an all-Scandinavian theme, where you can sleep in a tent straight out of a guide to living the Danish hygge dream.
The 24 square meter glamping tents – with their own terrace and BBQ – have a real bed and a cozy living room with two sofas that can be converted into extra beds, as well as access to a private shower and toilet.
We spend a lazy afternoon at the camp’s tournament-legal 18-hole miniature golf course – local gin in hand – before climbing the stunning on-site Marsk Tower with its DNA-inspired design. Its double helix shape means there is only one way up and another way down, although this is fascinatingly invisible from the ground, while a viewing platform offers 360-degree views of the beautiful swamp and national park.
The on-site restaurant is a final exceptional experience. We eat an exquisite seasonal three-course menu with locally sourced ingredients and wines to match.
We all had the best night’s sleep we can remember, woken only by the chorus of dawn before a breakfast delivery of fresh bread, fruit, yoghurt, cold cuts and cheese and a pot of hot coffee.
At the end of our Denmark adventure, it’s fair to say that none of us want to leave.
A Kingdom Family Room at Castle Hotel, LEGOLAND, for two adults and four children, from £295 per night, including breakfast and access to LEGOLAND (legoland.dk).
For more information, see visitdenmark.co.uk.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/legoland-and-beyond-why-denmark-has-all-the-elements-for-a-brilliant-family-holiday-41661865.html Legoland and more – why Denmark has all the elements for a brilliant family holiday