Did you know that there’s a little bit of Denmark, right in the middle of California? The town of Solvang is located in between San Francisco and Los Angeles and entering this tiny village you can’t help smiling. It’s bizarre and surreal – you see Denmark all around you (and a little bit of the Netherlands too, for some reason).
Copenhagen road, Arne’s Aebleskiver, Danish bakery, Julehus, Hans Christian Andersen, Runde Tårn and the little Mermaid are some of the sights. Houses built in old Danish style are dominating the city picture and people smiling everywhere, welcoming you as a fellow Scandinavian. It just so happens that I’m half Danish and I visited Solvang back in 2005. It would have been a crime not to, since we drove right through it, more or less.
Solvang means “sunny fields” and seing the picture below you get the idea. It suits both this field and the yellow ones you find all over in Denmark.
The town was founded back in 1911 by theologist Benedict Nordentoft, pastor Jens M. Gregersen and lecturer Peder P. Hornsyld, wishing for a colony somewhere warm, far from the Midwestern Winters. The population today is just over 5000 and it became a city in 1985.
When I visited, the third weekend in September, the traditional “Danish Days” was celebrated, as it’s been since 1936. They have eating competitions, processions through the downtown area with floats, marching groups, dancing, and singing. During these “Danish Days” you can have a couple of Danish delicacies, Medisterpølser and Æbleskiver.
Buildings in the half-timbered style of Danish rural houses dominate the town, even though Scandinavians point out that these have nothing to do with the original immigrants, but rather make for a huge tourist attraction.
As mentioned, there are many copies of Danish sightseeings. One is Runde Tårn, that is orignially located in the middle of Copenhagen and is Europes oldest observatory, built in 1637. The tower situated in Solvang is 1/3 of the one in Copenhagen, and houses a pizza place.
The little Mermaid has it’s place, of course.
H.C Andersen, the great Danish writer.
Christmas whenever you want.
So, do you want to have a bit of Danish extreme, Solvang is the place. Enjoy!