If you watch any kids’ TV then you’ve probably seen the Legoland advert. My two children certainly have and they have been pestering my wife and me to take them there for what seems like an eternity. Being the doting Dad I am (and a secret Lego enthusiast to boot) I decided to look into a trip. What I discovered was that there are now direct flights with Ryanair to Billund in the Southern Jutland region of Denmark, which is the original home of “The Brick”. So we were booked and on our way in no time.Arriving at Billund Airport we easily found the car hire office (within the main concourse of the small terminal) and were on the road within minutes… and off it almost as soon as our first destination, Lalandia Resort, was just two miles away.
Check-in couldn’t have been easier, even though reception was closed as it was early evening. We were each given wrist bands needed to access the facilities and accommodation plus a very handy “My Happy Pass” booklet and card, with discounts and freebies for most of the region’s biggest attractions. We followed the instructions to our very Scandi-style holiday cabin, about a mile down the road from the resort centre. With two bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen-diner and a lounge area looking out through the glass front to landscaped grounds beyond, it was everything we were hoping for and more. We proceeded to make up the beds with the bedding we had hired and find a shop to get some milk. Conveniently there is a small supermarket in the resort centre, where you can buy all your family essentials, such as pizzas, chicken nuggets, milk and beer. The next morning we decided to spend the day exploring the resort. Almost everything is located inside a massive tropical dome, where the look and feel is of a Mediterranean village at sunset. It has to be experienced to be believed. Included in the cost of the stay is unlimited access to the amazing indoor waterpark and Monky Tonky soft play. We headed straight for the waterpark, which had loads to do for all ages, even our very cautious three-year-old, Sarah. My fearless five-year-old son Reuben and I went down the Octopus flume in a double inflatable raft which bounced over the bumps and raced down the rapids. We all tried the mini-flumes for younger children plus the splash and spray play area and the wave pool. Reuben particularly loved the giant lilypad assault course and we all played a game of water basketball. Then we discovered the secret tunnel which led into an outdoor pool where there was also a giant warm Jacuzzi. We could have spent most of our four-night stay at Lalandia just in the waterpark it was so much fun, but we also tried ice skating and the ice-slide, panning for treasure in the Winterland zone, soft play, crazy golf and shuffle board in the Tropical zone, as well as catching a few children’s shows at the amphitheatre. Come the second morning of our stay, it was time to widen our horizons. We travelled southwest to the edge of the Jutland peninsula and visited Denmark’s fifth largest city, Esbjerg. Overlooking the harbour is the Art Museum, which focuses on how science and music are interlinked with art. Curator Christiane Finsen gave us a wonderful tour of the predominantly surreal and abstract artworks from the early 20th century onwards. It includes an interactive gallery where the children tried to identify artworks hidden in boxes by feeling them and matching what they felt with a picture. They also loved drawing pictures of different types of music they could hear. Later, on the coastal route we found vast beaches and visited the monumental concrete sculpture of four seated men, nine metres high called Man Meets the Sea by Svend Wiig Hansen. It really is something to behold. Across the road is the Fisheries and Maritime Museum which focuses on three different areas to explore our relationship with the sea. The cultural selection has, hanging from the ceiling, huge, intimate portraits of people who have worked in the fishing industry who tell their stories in bite-sized extracts. The energy area takes you into the sea, beneath the seabed and up into the air as it explains the different ways we produce oil and gas. The real treat here was dressing up in orange overalls, donning a helmet and embarking on a virtual helicopter ride to a very realistic oil rig – so good we did it twice. The final area is for natural history, where we watched the seals being trained and fed and walked through the aquarium. Stroking the rays in the petting area prompted a huge squeal of “no!” from Sarah. Bright and early next morning we travelled south across the flatlands passing never-ending corn maize fields with their ears dancing in the morning light to Denmark’s oldest town of Ribe. The first stop was the architecturally innovative Wadden Sea Centre emerging from the surrounding reeds and marshland. On the West Coast of Jutland, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Wadden Sea National Park is one of the most important ecological areas in Denmark, and the centre showcases its unique wildlife and landscapes. A quick pit-stop and alfresco lunch in the stunning pedestrianised town centre of Ribe was a feast for the eyes and the belly. We ate at a tiny pizzeria amid beautiful buildings and a bustling market before heading to the Ribe Viking Centre. My wife (née Pedersen) is always telling me that she’s part Viking and so I humoured her with a visit to what I expected would be a very boring museum with nothing more than a few ancient relics to look at. How wrong I was. As we walked through to door of the visitor centre and into the grounds, it was like going back in history and stepping into a Viking village. With the kids gleefully riding along in a wooden handcart, we explored our reconstructed Viking surroundings and tried our hands at archery, coin minting, wood whittling, flatbread baking, falconry and all sorts of other fascinating pastimes. But the real objective of our trip to Denmark could be put off no longer. And given the breathless expectation of Sarah and Reuben we weren’t going to do anything by halves at Legoland. We were booked into the brand new Lego Castle Hotel. Full of little surprises and well, erm, Lego, the kids’ heads nearly exploded with excitement when we checked into our huge Dragon Knight’s family room (with partitioned area for the children to sleep) and were handed a treasure map with clues to unlock a chest in the room. We set off around the building and grounds at once in search of the clues needed to unlock the big wooden chest. Inside were four mini-sets of Lego. Boom – delighted children! With passes for the Legoland theme park covering two days we still had barely a moment to spare after exploring everything on offer. Sarah loved Duploland, with its cute monorail, giant duplo play park and aeroplane ride, and Ninja-in-training Reuben went nuts for the rides in Ninjago World. Despite very strict height restrictions, we found plenty of rides for all the family, and the live shows were brilliant. We cheered for the white knight in a real jousting battle and we gawped in amazement at a Princess diving from a 10-metre castle and into the moat below. Staying at Legoland meant that at the end of each busy day, we only had to crawl a short distance back to our room. There are three restaurants within the hotel complex and with Lalandia and all its culinary options just across the road, there was plenty of choice for dinner. During our stay at Legoland we squeezed in a trip to the nearby town of Vejle. Famous for its futuristic “wave” building and “umbrella street” we enjoyed our wander around and had a nose in the stylish shops with Scandi designer goods. On our last day, we stayed in Billund and headed to the Lego House, an interactive brick experience and Lego history museum. This hi-tech gallery brought Lego to life in a way that must be seen to be believed. Even us grown-ups were utterly captivated and compelled to get building. A highlight was lunch at the on-site MINICHEF restaurant, where Lego is converted into healthy and tasty food. Build your food out of the bricks provided, scan it into a special machine and your plastic creation is magically turned into a meal, delivered by Lego Robots. This utterly bonkers eatery is more than just gimmick, it’s also one of Denmark’s top ten restaurants. But before we knew it, the time had come to trek the two miles back to the airport for the flight home that would return this magical holiday to the toy box.
A Lalandia Holiday Cottage sleeps four people and prices start from £340 for two nights (access to the water park included). The new Legoland Castle Hotel has rooms sleeping 4-5 people with prices starting at £110. Explore Scandinavia’s largest waterpark, Lalandia. Adult ticket £35 and children’s £28 (3-11 years). Visit the original Legoland. Entrance is £49 per person for children and adults. Get close to nature in the Danish North Sea Nature Park and the Wadden Sea Centre. Entrance to the Wadden Sea Centre is £12 for adults and £6 for children (4-14 years). The North Sea Nature Park is free to visit. Live like the Vikings in the Viking Centre in Ribe. An adult ticket is £16 and £8 for children (3-13). Ryanair flies from Edinburgh to Billund twice a week. Prices start from £15 per person one way.