Category Archives: Lekplats

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö.

The Fairytale Playground, Malmö. Source: Wikipedia; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

It’s a city I know little about but one I would love to visit just by virtue of its playground smörgåsbord. My hunch is that Malmö has more imaginative playgrounds per capita than any other city of similar size. At approximately 300,000 inhabitants, it is significantly smaller than its more populous neighbour Copenhagen (another playground hotspot) to which it is linked by the Øresund bridge.

The Music Playground, Malmö. Source: Lekplatsprogram för Malmö, April 2006

In the mid-1990s, the city’s playground stock was getting a little old and tired. Instead of replacing the old standards with more of the same, Malmö City Council made a policy decision to begin building themed playgrounds with custom designs. It was a new playground paradigm, providing children and families with a richer play experience in terms of both imaginative and physical play. Djurlekplatsen, Animal Playground, was the first of the new themed spaces out of the blocks in 1997.

The Spiral Playground, Malmö – Riding the Spiralosauras. Source: Beatrice Hansson

There are now a total of twenty themed playgrounds in the city catering to all age groups. Spend a morning with the small ones at Fairytale Playground, dipsy doodle over to The Spiral Playground with sculptures by Beatrice Hansson and then start trekking for a safari at the Africa Park.

Africa Park, Malmö – life size giraffe

A full list of themed playgrounds with locations is available here. Reviews of themed playgrounds in Swedish are here – Google translate works well enough to provide a good idea of what’s going on.

For Lotta, a Malmö mom I contacted through flickr, the themed playgrounds are an important part of the Malmö play mix.

A lot of land is reserved for parks and recreation and I think it is money well spent. Largely I think the City is making good decisions. There are themed playgrounds and un-themed for that matter as well popping up regularly in town.

Lotta has no problem selecting a couple of favourites that she regularly enjoys visiting with her girls.

I really like the Fairytale playground next to the City Library. It’s very modern and caters to all ages by well thought-through areas. Another favourite is the Farm playground within waking distance from home. It has a barn like structure with swings and slides, carved wooden cows and calves for climbing and riding and little playhouses that mimic the farmer’s home and stables for play for the younger children.

The Farm Playground, Malmö. Source: Malmö Town

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface as far as what Malmö has to offer kids and parents in search of fun and quality play experiences. The Evans family, recently relocated from their US home to Malmö have been out exploring the themed playgrounds. Read about them and enjoy their many photos at the links below.

The Africa Playground
The Sea and Beach Playground

The Space Playground
The Spider Playground
The Forest Playground
The Spiral Playground

I figure I have about three years left to get my three wee ones to this playground paradise. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage it but I think it could be the vacation of a lifetime – plenty of fun for everyone without a lot of hype and flash. I’ve also thought that perhaps there is a remote possibility of being appointed by the City of Malmö as the Chief Worldwide Publicist of Themed Playgrounds. This would require at least one familiarization trip accompanied by my testers of choice. Mayor and Councillors, I am ready to take this trip whenever you have a need to call on me…

Readers, if any of who can think of a way, or ways that could get my family and I to Malmö for a couple of weeks please share it with me. No idea, or concept is too zany.

The Concrete Playground, Malmö. Source: City of Malmö

Malmö’s commitment to play is serious business that other jurisdictions could learn from – great spaces that make kids and adults tourists in their own city. Read a brief report on the themed playgrounds here.

Just in case you didn’t know, for the kids in Malmö life can be a circus!

The Circus Playground, Malmö