Billund. The Mecca of Lego. The small, unassuming Danish town where carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen created one of the world’s most iconic brands of toys early in the 20th Century.
And there we were, peering through the windows of his former home just yards from the Lego House, a 21st-Century creation that pays homage to the plastic building bricks.
Benjamin, my son and a massive Lego fan, spotted the house as we strode down Hovedgaden, the main street.
For a town that attracts more than three million tourists a year, the centre was remarkably quiet. But walk half a mile down the road to Legoland, the company’s original theme park, and it’s an entirely different story.
We began our adventure at the Legoland Castle Hotel, with two nights in a regally-themed room.
Then it was into Legoland, experiencing the thrills of Knight’s Kingdom, Flying Eagle, Ice Pilots School (you can programme your own ride), Polar X-Plorer (beware the sudden drop!), Vikings River Splash and X-treme Racers, along with a ride up the Tower.
In Legoland, you can almost touch the planes as they fly overhead in and out of Billund Airport, built by Lego in 1964.
Manchester is just an hour away with Ryanair and it took just five minutes in our Europcar-hired car to reach the hotel.
But no trip to Billund is complete without visiting the Lego House, opened two years ago. The sight of an enormous 15-metre-high Lego tree, built using six million bricks, is a sight to behold.
There are various levels and zones to explore, where you can create your own models, direct a Lego stop-motion movie, build a fish and then bring it to life and marvel at the amazing Lego sets.
When you’re ready to eat, you can “build your own meal” in the Mini Chef restaurant, using Lego bricks, and have a robot serve it to you. Outside, there are 13 roof terraces equipped with play areas and fantastic views.
Billund is not just about Lego, with the mini-tropolis of Lalandia a favourite destination. There are hundreds of traditional Danish lodges set among parkland on the outskirts of the town, with a huge complex at its hub, complete with amphitheatre.
You can head to the aquadome or pop along to the Winter Wonderland and do a spot of skiing or rock climbing, have a game of bowling or mini golf, or burn off energy in Monky Tonky land.
Just 20 minutes away by car is Givskud Zoo – part zoo, part safari park. It is home to a multitude of species and we enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of the lions’ stable block, standing just a couple of feet from these majestic creatures with our guide Sophie.
It was then on to Tirpitz on the west coast and Hitler’s Second World War underground bunker – now a museum – before heading to our final base.
Our lovely apartment in the holiday village of Ribe Byferie was on the outskirts of Denmark’s oldest town, Ribe. From the front you had a splendid river view while from the back you could see the backyards of your neighbours, interspersed with cobbled streets. And the bread-laden breakfast baskets were great.
From Ribe, it’s a 10-minute drive to the Wadden Sea Centre, an attraction that marvels at the wonders of the ocean and all the wildlife associated with it.
Finally, there was the Viking Centre, a recreation of a settlement as it would have looked during the time of Denmark’s famous inhabitants.
We were shown around the village by our guide, while the children got to make their own bread, mint a coin and hear tales of yore from a time when these Scandinavian warriors ruled the roost.
There was just time to follow the famous Night Watchman around Ribe on our last evening, as he regaled tales of the town’s historic past.
The next day we returned to Billund before heading home…but not before one last play at the Lego House.
Lalandia offers a holiday cottage for two, for two nights from around £340. LEGOLAND Castle Hotel offers double rooms from £150. Ribe Byferie Hotel offers holiday apartments from £100. British Airways has one-way flights from Manchester to Billund from £75. Ryanair has flights between Manchester and Billund from £15 one way.
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