Things to do

Tivoli’s version of The Nutcracker – an enchanting fairy tale ballet

This December you can enjoy Tivoli’s enchanting version of the world-famous ballet, The Nutcracker, with the beautiful music played live by Copenhagen Phil’s 70 musicians.

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By Bente D. Knudsen   Pictures: PR Tivoli

Once again, the wonderful Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, is put up at Tivoli’s Concert Hall.

It is performed every other year, so make the most of this opportunity as next year they will be performing, The Snow Queen, another Christmas ballet.

You may be confused by several different posters around Copenhagen advertising The Nutcracker ballet. This is because this year two different performances are put up; Tivoli’s and the more classical version by the Royal Danish Ballet at the Royal Theatre.

Apart from the music, the baseline story and the ballet dancing the versions are different, so if you are a fan of The Nutcracker, we do recommend seeing both.

However, the performance in Tivoli can of course be combined with a visit to this magical Christmas winter wonderland and that makes it even more attractive to do so both before but also after the performance.

And of course, the entrance to Tivoli is included in your ballet ticket, so no extra charge there.

If you have never been inside the concert hall, you will be surprised by the large aquarium which stretches all along the corridor of the wardrobe and bar area.

Magnificent many coloured fish attract a lot of attention from adults and children alike. The relevance of the aquarium with the concert hall is bewildering but still enchanting.

The conductor arrives and Tchaikovsky’s mesmerising music starts flowing through the air.


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If you have already seen the classical version of The Nutcracker, as the ballet is performed in the US for instance, you will be slightly bewildered when H.C. Andersen arrives on stage to take part in the Christmas Eve dinner in act one with Clara and her family.

He is clearly distinguishable with his large, pointy and bumpy nose and of course the large book he carries to the party and reads to the Christmas guests during the first act.

However, somehow, he could easily have been in the original version too and when he sits in the highchair reading his fairy tales, you have already quite forgotten that he is a new addition to the story.

Tivoli’s version is very child friendly and younger children will enjoy this well-known figure on stage.

The Christmas tree is revealed, decorated amongst other items with Danish flags.

If you are not used to a Danish Christmas tree, this may be surprising, however, this is quite customary and part of the many Christmas traditions in Denmark.

Danish Queen Margrethe plays an important part in The Nutcracker as she is the set designer of the Tivoli version, and as the evening progresses, her taste for bold colour combinations becomes very visible in the magnificent multi-coloured costumes.

As Clara falls asleep, she awakens in a dreamland of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales together with the well-known Tivoli characters Pjerrot, Harlekin and Columbine (all three characters are part of Tivoli’s summer pantomime plays) and the real enchantment begins.

Tivoli is of course the venue of the performances during act two together with H.C. Andersen.

Act 2 is truly mesmerising, the costumes are surprising but add so much to the performance, and the dancing (on a rather small stage) is bewitching.


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Ballet dancers perform bold pas de deux dances on what is really very little space and the many ballet children of all ages who participate in the various dances add a charming dimension, much to the amusement of the audience.

Music, dancing, acting and set design all come together in this magical performance. You cannot help but being bewitched by it all, even if you have seen The Nutcracker before in a larger stage setting and more classical version.

Tivoli makes the evening very child friendly as both candy and popcorn can be brought into the concert hall during the performance. Special boxes can be added on top of the regular seats allowing small children to look past a tall adult sitting front.

The audience was very diverse with both older couples as well as teenagers with their grandparents and some foreigners as well.

As the concert hall and stage is smaller than for instance at the Royal Theatre, seats to the very far side of the stage cannot be recommended. The vision from them is slightly impaired, so try to get centre stage seats for the best experience.

To avoid queuing, pre-order drinks from the bar when you arrive to be ready for you during the break (they will be standing ready on a long table in the wardrobe section) so you can enjoy your drink peacefully during the 30-minute interlude between the two acts.

Stay in the bar area with the aquarium or go upstairs and enjoy the view of the decorated and illuminated Tivoli trees from the large windows looking out into the gardens.

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Being a ballet, no Danish language skills are required, however, some knowledge of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales (The Tinderbox and The Snow Queen) can be an advantage.

Upon leaving the concert hall, we stroll through Tivoli both bewitched and enchanted with the ballet, the mesmerising lights and true Christmas atmosphere of this fascinating and magnificently snow decorated park.

If you go to Tivoli during the weekends, expect it to be crowded, as this is one of the favourite Christmas excursions not only for Danes, but also for Swedes and other tourists.