With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to get excited about upcoming
festivities! This month we offer some accessible Christmas activities suitable for all.
Text: Sara R. Newell / Nikolaos Papadopoulos
Christmas is always time for celebration, and here in Denmark, the land of hygge, it is a central tradition, intertwined with many Danes’ social and family lives. Whether big or small, Christmas events are abundant in the country, dressing it up in festive colours and providing fun and entertainment for all! But is it all-inclusive? In this issue, we checked out accessibility across the country for special needs families:
The first and foremost place that comes to mind is the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen, one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks and most visited attractions; indeed a focal point for Christmas celebrations in the capital. There are new activities to choose from during the festive season. The park has made some strides towards accessibility, from free entry for assistant companions (this is not always an option in some places) to allowing visitors to loan wheelchairs for free. However, Tivoli does not come without issues - some rides are simply not accessible, large crowds can trigger sensory overload. In addition, brightly decorated amusement parks might prove too much for sensitive individuals, and lack of proper changing facilities for people lacking upper body strength might hamper their experience.
For more information: https://www.tivoligardens.com/en/praktisk/gaester-med-funktionsnedsaettelse
Tivoli Friheden, a similar amusement park in Aarhus, offers many identical options, although its website is much more limited in information.
For more information: https://friheden.dk/information/
A series of events that really stand out are those of Lumagica. The organisation behind them holds light festivals from mid-November to December in Ringsted, Ødense, and Aabenraa. These festivals are genuinely suitable for all as they also take sensory disabilities into consideration. As a result, the festivals are not overpacked, the atmosphere is calming, and the lighting is smooth. In addition, the paths are manageable for wheelchair users, and facilities are in place to service those in need. One downside is a lack of changing facilities for wheelchair users, which is sadly noticeable throughout Denmark.
For more information: https://lumagica.dk/faq/
Finally, local Christmas events are abundant across the land. As the country dons its festive outfit, Christmas fairs, markets, concerts, rides, and many more activities spring up across the country. Most of these activities are free, and one can find them on their municipality’s websites. Accessibility information for these activities is not always available, and it depends on where the activity is held. For example, Ribe’s Christmas celebrations are renowned, and buildings in the town are accessible - however, wheelchair users might have difficulty navigating the town’s cobbled roads.
"Trips out for special needs families take extensive planning, depending on the needs of the impaired individual(s), and being unable to plan for a visit is very frustrating."
There are, however, two significant takeaways from our search. The first is that there is no real concerted effort to organise and promote events that are accessible to all. There is an utter lack of events dedicated to special needs families, accessibility information is not always prominent or even available, and a simple internet search is never enough to find accessible activities for everyone. This might deter people even before the visit starts to an attraction or event. Trips out for special needs families take extensive planning, depending on the needs of the impaired individual(s), and being unable to plan for a visit is very frustrating.
Additionally, while many activities are usually accessible to people with specific impairments, they do not cater to everyone. Larger events and venues tend to focus on wheelchair access, but they might fail to consider other kinds of sensitivities, such as sensory disabilities. For example, it is understandable that, by default, Christmas celebrations are full of artificial lighting, often accompanied by music, which might be uncomfortable for specific individuals. In that case, particular areas could be offered for sensory impaired people, where noise and lighting levels are moderated but can still offer a Christmas experience. A little consideration might go a long way towards true inclusivity, and Denmark could start showing how all of its people truly matter.