Labour of love to Langelinie to laud the lady

The Little Mermaid 100th anniversary


The Little Mermaid is a fairy tale that every Dane is familiar with. In fact, thanks to Disney, it’s a story that most of the world knows, and loves, as a tale of true love conquering all. Rest assured though, the original tale, pre-Disney makeover, is anything but a fairy tale with a happy ending, although it’s definitely a tale of true love. If you haven’t read the original version, then what better time than now, on the 100th anniversary of the Little Mermaid sculpture.

Without giving away any major spoilers to those who haven’t read it, it’s safe to say that the original tale tells a remarkable story of undying love and longing for a different life. This mesmerising story has been a source of inspiration to countless artists, musicians and dancers through the years with everything from operas and ballets to anime films being made in its name.

In 1909 the Little Mermaid ballet was being shown at the Royal Danish Theatre and it was at one of its performances that Carl Jacobsen, of the Carlsberg brewery, saw ballerina Ellen Price dance the role of the Little Mermaid and fell in love with the tale. Consequently, Jacobsen commissioned sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create what is today the world famous sculpture of the Little Mermaid. The sculpture was unveiled on 23 August 1913 and presented as a gift to the City of Copenhagen.

Ever since the sculpture’s debut in 1913, the Little Mermaid has sat steadfast by the waterfront, looking pensively out on the horizon. Well, with one minor exception when she travelled halfway across the globe in 2010 to be a representative of Copenhagen at the Shanghai World Expo. Of course, over the past century, she’s seen her fare share of vandalism: her head has been severed, her arm has been cut off and in 2003 the poor lady was knocked off her base by explosives.

Given the beautiful story that inspired the sculpture and its endurance over the last century, it only seems fit that there will be some truly remarkable celebrations to mark her anniversary. The festivities start at 14:30 with staff from Denmark’s aquarium, The Blue Planet, reading out mermaid-themed stories and the popular Trolle and Tormod with DJ Skummetmælk putting on a big mermaid concert for the children. There will also be horses and carriages from the Carlsberg brewery, a speech by Lord Mayor Frank Jensen and the children’s festivities will end with no less than 100 mermaids jumping into the ocean to form the number 100 in the Little Mermaid’s honour. Come evening the celebrations will be a tad more grown- up with scenes from the Russian musical The Little Mermaid and an interpretive dance performance by the talented Selene Munoz. The evening will finish with spectacular fireworks at 21:30.

Truly, there are not many things more Danish than the tales of HC Andersen, of which the Little Mermaid is perhaps the best know. So if you want to experience some Danish culture, head on down to Langelinie and salute a little mermaid that has been focus of both world expos and vandalism – but looked forever graceful – for the past 100 years.


Langelinie, Cph Ø; Sat 14:30-21:30; free adm;