One of Copenhagen’s most famous residents turned 100 today, and the city threw her quite the party.
The Little Mermaid celebrated her centennial birthday together with hundreds of visitors in a festive occasion honouring the Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale icon.
Under the late-summer sun, tourists and residents alike crammed along Langelinie promenade and posed for pictures with the birthday girl. By the time the event began, on-lookers were packed two and three and deep as tour busses continued to unload additional partygoers.
A global icon that's small in stature but with a big reputation
Standing just 1.25 meters tall, the Little Mermaid is dwarfed by other European landmarks, she nevertheless has a place as one of the nation’s most-regarded tourism sites. She is often characterised as intrinsically Danish, embracing the magic and fairytale mystique woven into Andersen’s stories.
“She’s a great symbol for Denmark,” said Peter Yang, a Chinese journalist with the Xinhua News Agency. “We grow up reading these fairy tales, and for us [the Little Mermaid] symbolises something magical.”
The party for the nation’s premier tourist attractions brought plenty of Danes to Langelinie as well.
“A lot of people come to see her every day,” said Egon Dahl, an 80-year-old Copenhagen resident. “So it’s only fitting we celebrate her like this. She’s a very famous lady.”
The little lady that causes a big stir
During the event, the statue was repeatedly characterised as an important figure in Denmark’s identity around the world.
Three years ago, the Little Mermaid made her first trip abroad to the Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The trip has helped secure Denmark’s place as an increasingly popular tourist destination for Chinese travellers.
“The Little Mermaid may be a small artifact compared to other great historical monuments around the world,” said Lars Bernhard Jørgensen, managing director of city tourism bureau Wonderful Copenhagen. “But she captures both history and fairytale, which causes quite a stir outside of the borders of Denmark.”