Fairy tales really do come true in Denmark. At least it seems that way when wandering through Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, the enchanting granddaddy of all amusement parks, with its marching bands, beer gardens, lake filled with Chinese dragon boats and assortment of classic roller coasters.
The fairy tale master himself, Hans Christian Andersen, is evident throughout the city. There are Andersen-themed walking tours, a statue of him next to City Hall and, of course, the iconic Little Mermaid (frequently vandalized but always lovingly restored) gracing the harbor.
But Copenhagen has its modern, edgier side, too. Nyhavn, once the seedy sailors’ quarter, is filled with trendy cafes, bars and clubs housed in brightly painted 17th and 18th century townhouses fronting a harbor filled with vintage sailboats. Stroget, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, is a veritable showcase for contemporary Danish design as well as traditional products such as fine silver and porcelain.
This winning combination of heritage and innovation is what makes Denmark an appealing destination for meetings and incentives, according to Christina Andersen, sales and marketing manager-business events, USA, for Visit Denmark. She points out that attendees can meet in venues that range from Renaissance castles to ultra-modern conference centers and engage in teambuilding that encompasses everything from Viking ship races to Lego games with an adult twist.
“We’re reaching out to meeting and incentive buyers across North America and we’re seeing a rise in interest that is very exciting,” Andersen says. “We’re seeing a lot of business from pharmaceutical and tech companies as well as organizations that have an interest in sustainability—we’re very committed to green practices.”
The ease of traveling to Denmark is among the reasons why visitation from North America increased by 20 percent last year, Andersen says. Air accessibility continues to expand, including on SAS, which has new service to Copenhagen from Miami and Boston, and Norwegian Air, which has new service to the city from Las Vegas and Boston.
“People also like the fact that the Danes speak excellent English and that Copenhagen, one of the smallest big cities in the world, is so easy to navigate,” she says. “You can easily walk or bike between many of the major places in the city.”
Given its northern location, it’s not surprising that April through October is the preferred time of year for holding a meeting in Denmark. While there may be some rain during those months, there will also be plenty of long and sunny days, Andersen says.
What is less predictable are the most favorable dates for hotel rates and availability, she adds.
“There can be big events and conferences here at any time of year that can really affect hotel occupancies,” she says. “So we advise planners to consult with us first. We can look at the calendar and see where there are pockets of opportunity. It’s not dependent on season—even mid-July could be a favorable time.”
Hotels and Venues
Copenhagen’s major venue, Bella Center, is the largest convention center in all of Scandinavia. With capacity for up to 20,000, it’s connected to the 812-room AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen and the Comwell Conference Center Copenhagen, a facility with 48 meeting rooms and two auditoriums.
Within the city center, meetings-friendly hotels include the Scandic Copenhagen; Copenhagen Marriott Hotel; Tivoli Hotel & Congress Center; Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers; Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Copenhagen; and Radisson Blu Falconer Hotel & Conference Center, Copenhagen. Several meetings hotels are also near Copenhagen Airport, located just five miles from the city center, including the Hilton Copenhagen Airport and Park Inn by Radisson Copenhagen Airport Hotel.