Denmark – Legoland & Lalandia

Lalandia holiday village in Billund is a little like a Center Parcs site but without the woodland setting. The chalets are comfortable and well kitted out. The main attractions are the large indoor waterpark and, of course, Legoland next door in Lego’s home town of Billund. The waterpark had a good variety of slides and pools with a particularly good wave pool that had much bigger and stronger waves than at Center Parcs. It was also nice that the water was not chlorinated. Having already had to undergo “waterboarding” at OMB’s behest in Barcelona it was Mrs B’s turn to stand under the large bucket in the children’s climbing area though!

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The main atrium of the complex is rather disconcerting – as you can see from the photo above, it has been designed to look like a Tuscan village, complete with a blue sky (handy when it is flat and grey outside!).

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Of course, Legoland is the big local draw. As a boy I loved Lego and had always wanted to visit. Although my family travelled very widely when I was growing up due to the opportunities to accompany my dad in his job in the Merchant Navy, Billund is inland and so was never a likely option! We’d visited Legoland in Windsor but had been a little disappointed with it, mainly because of the massive queues even for the most sedate of the rides for young children and the clear impression that it was a theme park with a little Lego added on rather than a land where the Lego was the star.

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As you can see, this is not a problem with Legoland Billund. The Lego model dioramas are the first thing you see as you enter the park and cover a large area. The rides and other elements of the park are actually hidden away from the entrance past the dioramas so they don’t distract from the Lego and we spent a long time exploring the scenes, many of which had motorised elements like boats, cars, trains and planes moving around to OMB’s (and me and Mrs B’s) fascination.

There were of course also a lot of the usual rides and they were all very good fun, particularly the roller coaster going through a castle dungeon and the Egyptian Temple dark ride where you were armed with a light gun to shoot at coloured light targets. Despite it being a sunny Sunday in early August the crowds were not huge and we didn’t have to queue for more than a few minutes for any ride. Later in the afternoon the queues were short enough that we were able to end by having back to back goes on our favourites. There were a couple of more exciting rides which OMB was slightly too small for, not quite being 120cm tall but missing them didn’t take away from the fun. Realistically it isn’t a theme park for those looking for the thrills of the biggest rollercoasters.

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Children’s water play area = nice for OMB to cool down in!
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Humungous ice cream – the Danes seem to love their massive ice creams. We could barely finish this one between three of us.
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The acrobatic/diving pantomime show. So good OMB made us see it twice. The equivalent play in Legoland Windsor was the most enjoyable thing there.

I couldn’t resist a visit to the world’s largest Lego shop on our way out. OMB was very good though – at his age I would have wanted everything there. In the end we chose a relatively modest set which we’ve had a nice time building together.

Camp Bestival 2012

Camp Bestival is a great weekend away for those who like the festival part of music festivals and who want to go to a festival with children. The music is a distant second to the broader festival experience but that is just as well if you have younger children who are unlikely to enjoy the usual sound levels of live music. I saw Adam and the Ant and a bit of Hot Chip, but not much else.

We went with OMB and his friend AC and his dad, TC which meant that we were able to spend some time without the children if we wanted to and to explore more generally, but in the end we spent most of the time together as the best of the festival was the family atmosphere rather than things specifically for the adults. However, we did leave on the Sunday and missed out the closing fireworks and the Happy Mondays as the boys had had enough having arrived on the Thursday and already having had three full days of festival.

There were lots of activities for children including crafts and circus skills, free bouncy castles and a really good wall of death motorbike show (surprisingly free). There was also jousting, circus acts, comedy and poetry (we all really enjoyed Harry Baker from the Elephant Collective and his poem about dinosaurs and his reimagining of Ed Sheeran’s song A Team with desserts replacing some of the lyrics – I’m still tickled by the line “Meringue, but you never rang back”). The food on site was also a cut above normal festival food in particular the Young British Foodies tent which had amazing food (special mentions to the best ribs I’ve ever had and the crab which TC and Mrs B would have carried on to a third helping of given half a chance).

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As you can see, we were in the festival mood with our FieldCandy tents which got a lot of admiring comments, although we were in a very small minority in not setting up home from home with massive family tents! It was a rather middle class event – or rather, it was pitched at the sorts of families who regularly go on camping holidays. Everything seemed well-organised and the facilities were good. However, we were also lucky to have had very warm, dry weather. Particularly with our small tents it might have been rather harder to have kept the boys’ spirits up had it been wet and muddy without us having somewhere dry and clean to retreat to.

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This is part of the Flying Seagull circus troupe’s show. It was so much fun we went to see it twice. They manage the rare combination of being great performers and doing very good work for charity without being preachy or sanctimonious.

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This is as close to Mr Tumble as we could manage – it was probably the most crowded the main stage got all weekend! I still think he’s planning on staging a coup some time around 2030 once his loyal followers have grown up.

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You don’t get jousting by a real castle at Glastonbury!

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Hey, look, some more traditional festival goers!

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But why would you want to?

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The Wall of Death!

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OMB and I doing a spin painting.

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Move over Damien Hirst!