Perhaps contrary to popular belief, life in Denmark isn’t all about eating rugbrød or reading HC Andersen tales. Clubs, associations and sports, in fact, are an integral part of life for most Danes from a young age. But for those international families who aren’t brought up with an innate knowledge of Danish social customs, finding that special niche in the community might seem a little daunting.
That’s where The Copenhagen Post’s Children’s Fair comes in. After resounding success in 2011 and 2012 despite unfortunate weather conditions, the fair is back again this June, inviting international families to join together for a day of fun and sun (well, hopefully) in Valbyparken. Now in its third year, the fair is expected to draw some 1,500 families and will endeavour to provide a space for expat and Danish families to mingle and get acquainted both with each other and a variety of clubs and associations from throughout the city.
Over 50 organisations will host booths and activities at the fair, including theatre academy Scene Kunst Skoler and piano school Harman Music Methods. Young sports enthusiasts will enjoy the softball activities put on by Gladsaxe Softball and Baseball Klub, while the future equestrians of the family can go for a free pony ride thanks to the outdoor association Børnenes Dyremark. Throughout the afternoon, the kids will also have the chance to have their face painted, pay a visit to a balloon artist for a special sculpture, or get in touch with their DIY side through the host of arts and crafts activities on offer.
Elsewhere, the fair will also give families the chance to get acquainted with the local officials responsible for their safety. The fire brigade will host a demonstration in the afternoon, after which even the youngest of aspiring civil servants will be able to try their hand at extinguishing (fake) flames.
But it’s not just about enjoying the outdoor activities, suggests Jesper Nymark, the chief executive of The Copenhagen Post. As Nymark explained, the fair is an important opportunity for Copenhagen’s international community to blur the lines between work and socialising, and expats and locals.
“Clubs and associations are such a natural part of social life in Denmark, and they offer a lot of positive experiences and enrichment,” Nymark pointed out. “But if you don’t already know about them or know where to look − it’s hard to know where to start.”
“We want to create a chance for international families to come and find out about these things, meet other families and have a fun day out with their kids,” he went on. “But it’s also important to open up a dialogue between families and local organisations so that better communication exists to inform foreigners of the opportunities around them.”
Although the fair will take place in June, there is no guarantee of sunshine and blue skies. At least, that’s what Shantel Weinsheimer found out last year when she attended the fair with her husband and daughter, who was then four years old. But according to Weinsheimer, neither the rain nor the wind took away from their overall experience.
“True, the tents for the activity booths were blowing in the wind a bit, but it was still good fun,” Weinsheimer told The Copenhagen Post. “It was great to see what kinds of activities are out there that we might not have found out about otherwise.”
Originally a San Francisco native, Weinsheimer and her family relocated to Denmark several years ago after her husband accepted a job at Novo Nordisk. As she explained, she and her husband both enjoyed meeting other international parents at the fair.
“For us it was especially nice just to meet other families who were in a similar situation,” she pointed out. “Of course, it was a good chance to identify which organisations were available for us to join as well.”
But Weinsheimer admitted that the fair was more than just an opportunity to make connections – and it seems her daughter thought so too. Between the arts and crafts, the face painting and all of the other festivities, Weinsheimer said her daughter struggled to pick a favourite activity – there were just too many to choose from.
“She especially loved the firemen – the kids all had the chance to put out a fake fire in a makeshift building,” Weinsheimer explained. “And they each got a firemen’s hat too. That was a huge hit!”
In between crafts and chatting, guests are invited to re-energise with free snacks and refreshments, or enter a raffle – last year’s booty included a three-course dinner at the Marriott Hotel, one of the event’s sponsors.
Among the other sponsors are the City of Copenhagen, Maersk, Microsoft and McDonald's, all of which will participate with the hope that through events like this one, international families will be encouraged to get involved in their community and experience the best of Denmark’s social offerings. And with something for everyone, the fair is bound to be a hit once again with natives and internationals of all ages.
Factfile | Children’s Fair 2013
- Located at Valbyparken, Hammelstrupvej 41, Cph SV
- Sunday June 9, 14:00-17:00; free adm
- Meet over 50 local clubs and organisations
- Free pony rides, face painting, balloon sculptures, drinks and snacks, and more!