The city of Solvang will sweeten its own Danish this week as it puts on the first Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Festival, Thursday through July 19. The four-day celebration honoring Denmark's brightest literary star will feature storytelling, mime, theater and special meals in Solvang restaurants.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), though author of many novels and plays, is best known for the 156 fairytales he wrote between 1835 and 1872. In Europe, Andersen's tales are considered adult fare, according to Solvang Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Cummins. "It's just in the U.S. that he's considered a storyteller for children." And children will really reap the benefits of this festival.
"There will be lots of things for children to do," Cummins said. Many of the craft shops will offer hands-on experience, like painting wooden toys and, for a nominal fee, painting T-shirts. Most restaurants, Cummins said, will offer special children's meals.
Festival events will take place all over the city in various town squares every hour, on the hour, until 5 p.m. Story-telling will be a major part of the festival. Hobart Baker, a puppet maker, will perform Hans Christian Anderson fairytales with marionettes. Nadja Forrest, Solvang's resident storyteller, and Thor Neilsen (who looks remarkably like the venerable Andersen) will tell tales in Danish and English. There will also be performances by Gabrielle the Clown and Jan Johnson as Mother Goose.