May 23, 2015

Midsummer Weekend- 2015

Midsummer at Skansen,
photo by: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
It is a little less than a month before Midsummer weekend here in Sweden. This year it falls on June 19th through 21st with Midsummer's Eve on Friday and Midsummer's Day on Saturday. This is arguably the biggest holiday in Sweden... on par with Christmas as a holiday celebrated with family and friends. It is a very old holiday, celebrating the summer solstice, with roots going back to Sweden's pagan past. Here is a handy video that explains the holiday! Unfortunately, most tourists are taken by surprise every year as parts of the city can resemble a ghost town with many Stockholmers heading to the countryside to celebrate. But don't worry... as long as you are aware of the holiday, there are still lots to see and do. Most places geared for tourists tend to be open or at least partially open. Here are some tips on what is open/closed and what to expect:

Museums-

  • Skansen- open every day, all weekend.
  • Vasa Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Fotografiska (photography)- closed on Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • ABBA the Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Royal Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Drottningholm Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Moderna (modern art)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nobel (Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nordiska (nordic culture)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Historiska (history)- closed Friday & Saturday, open Sunday.
  • Medeltidsmuseet (medieval)- closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

If you are travelling with children (or are young at heart) both the amusement park Gröna Lund and Junibacken, the home of Pippi Longstocking and her friends, are open all weekend.

Restaurants-

Here is where you can get into a little trouble. Many restaurants are closed for the whole weekend, while others will be closed at least on Friday. Higher-end, Michelin star restaurants are almost all closed Friday through Monday. Most hotel restaurants are open to the general public (like the Rival Bistro) all weekend. There are also a few other restaurants that are open during Midsummer... if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me as soon as possible for help booking a table, as they will probably fill up and last minute reservations might be tough! 

Shopping-

Also a little tough. Many smaller boutiques will be closed for the whole weekend. Even large shopping centers, like Mood and Sturegallerian, will close on both Friday and Saturday (Sturegallerian is closed on Sunday as well). The two largest department stores, NK and Åhlens City, will close early on Friday (NK at 2pm and Åhlens at 4pm) and stay closed on Saturday. Officially, it is only Saturday which is a bank holiday... but Friday is about as close as you can come "unofficially", so expect many pharmacies, banks and liquor stores to be closed that day as well.

Sightseeing-

Large sightseeing companies like Strömma run as normal with bus, boat and combination tours available all weekend. Smaller, independant sightseeing companies may be closed. Public transportation runs as normal, though on a more limited "holiday" schedule, all weekend.

Experience Midsummer-

After all of this negativity, you may be wondering "but where do we experience the Midsummer celebrations?". Well, the best place to see how Swedes traditionally celebrate this holiday is at Skansen. Check their calendar for a program of what is going on all weekend long! While most Swedes do leave the city, the few that are left will celebrate with picnics and games in the different parks throughout the city. So, when in doubt, just head outdoors to celebrate. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further information... contact me directly at the hotel!
Summer Night
photo by: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

May 18, 2015

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Stockholm

Skeppsbron, photo by: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Here at the Rival Hotel, we can tell that the summer season is gearing up... less businessmen and more tourists (even on the weekedays), more questions about the archipelago as well as a sharp increase in e-mails asking advice about what to see/do/dine while in Stockholm. I thought I would put togther a collection of my most popular summer-themed blog articles as well as links to some excellent websites to help you make the most out of your visit to Stockholm. Always good to do some research and plan ahead...

Arrival/Departure

Getting Around the City
Sightseeing (multiple blog articles, but here are links to the individual company websites)
Activities
Restaurants
Archipelago
Museums
This is really just some highlights and top tips. If you are booked at the Rival Hotel... contact me directly if you need assistance or more information.
Strandvägen, photo by: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

May 14, 2015

Art Museum Exhibitions- Summer 2015

Audrey Hepburn on the set of "My Fair Lady" 1963.
at Sven-Harry's Konstmuseum.
Photo: Cecil Beaton
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's
Another article to help you plan your summer visit in Stockholm. Below you will find the major exhibitions at museums and galleries, concerning art, happening in Stockholm this summer. There are many other museums and attractions in Stockholm which foucus more on history. Click here for a list and description of them. After each museum/gallery below, I have written a word (modern, classic, etc.) describing the type of art usually shown there. Keep in mind that this is just a generalization. These are also temporary exhibitions and many of the museums listed also have permanent collections on display.
The park at Waldemarsudde. Photo by Lars Edelholm.
Lots of great art! Personally, I am really looking forward to the Nick Brandt, Cecil Beaton and Less is More... Not! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further help or information, talk to me directly at the hotel. Are you coming to Stockholm before the summer exhibitions start? Click here to see the main spring exhibits.
"Less is More... Not!" at the Spritmuseum.
Photo by: Per Myrehed
© All rights reserved

May 6, 2015

Restaurants Closing For a Few Weeks This Summer- 2015

This post may come as bad news, at least for "foodies" visiting Stockholm in July and early August. Many top tier restaurants (Michelin star, gourmet) close for a few weeks during the summer. This is mainly due to the generous Swedish vacation rules and the fact that many top restaurants feel that they can't offer excellent food & service with summer replacement staff. Another reason, perhaps, is that many Stockholmers leave the city during this period and there aren't enough visiting "foodies" to fill these types of restaurants. No businessmen in town either... wining & dining clients. At any rate, the good news is that there are a few which will be open all summer and several other top restaurants have some other options during these weeks... and you always have a plethora of other great restaurants in the city to choose from! Most of these restaurants are also closed during the big Midsummer holiday weekend (June 19th-21st). More about that in a few weeks, but here is last year's blog article regarding the holiday and what to expect.

  • Mathias Dahlgren- closed between July 10th and August 4th (both the Dining Room and Food Bar).
  • Frantzén- closed between July 11th and August 13th.
  • Oaxen Krog- open all summer, but only Wed-Sat during the period July 14th to August 11th.
  • Oaxen Slip- open all summer, every day (lunch/dinner) starting on July 18th.
  • Gastrologik- open all summer for the first time(!). Even their more casual Speceriet will be open.
  • Ekstedt- closed between July 21st and August 5th.
  • Esperanto- the dining room is closed between June 19th and August 6th. Between June 27th and August 4th they open up in their lounge with what they call their French Summer Salon where guests sit at a communal table (a la carte menu). Their great sister restaurants Råkultur and Shibumi are open all summer!
  • Operakällaren- closed between June 27th and August 5th. Operabaren- closed between July 4th and August 9th. Their more casual Bakfickan will be open all summer. 
  • Volt- closed between July 19th and August 17th. 
  • Svartengrens- closed between July 6th and August 3rd. 
  • AG- closed between June 28th and August 2nd. 
  • Rolf's Kök- closed between June 28th and August 2nd.
  • Pontus!- currently closed, reopening as Burger & Lobster on June 26th, with plans to be open the rest of the summer. Their more casual Pocket will be open all summer.
  • Lux Day to Day- closed between July 11th and August 11th.
  • Farang- closed between July 5th and August 5th.
  • Djuret- closed between June 17th and August 17th, instead they will open their pork barbecue restaurant Svinet in the courtyard.
  • Pubologi- closed between June 29th and July 30th. 
  • Proviant- closed between July 5th and August 4th.
  • Niklas- (waiting on updated information)
  • Grill- open all summer, though only serving a grill buffet between June 29th and August 6th.
  • Le Rouge- closed between June 27th and August 11th. Their more casual Le Bar will be open all summer.
  • SMAK- closed between July 4th and August 5th. 
  • Miss Voon- closed between July 5th and August 4th.
  • Publico- closed between July 5th and August 3rd. 
  • Lilla Ego- closed between June 28th and August 11th. 
  • Nook- closed between June 27th and August 5th.
  • Spritmuseum- their indoor restaurant closes on June 9th and moves outdoors for the summer with a more casual garden restaurant. 
  • Fotografiska- the main restaurant is closed from June 19th until the first week of September. During this time they will have an outdoor grill restaurant on the waterfront.
  • Wedholms Fisk- open all summer.

Don't despair though... there are still plenty of great restaurants open in Stockholm during these weeks. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for more information. Our Bistro will be open every evening, all summer! I will be updating this list as I get more information from restaurants. Please keep in mind that I gathered some of this information from their websites and some of the dates may change. To be absolutely sure, check the restaurant's website (which I have linked above). The dates I have written above are for dinner service, lunch service may differ! I will soon be writing an article about summer-open restaurants...

May 1, 2015

House of Amber

This past week The House of Amber had an open house for Stockholm hotel concierge in order to properly introduce themselves and show what they have to offer ahead of the busy summer season. This is their first boutique in Sweden (having opened a little less than a year ago), but they have their origins in Denmark starting in 1933 and their stores can be also found in China with plans of expansion to the US and the Persian Gulf region in the future.
As the name suggests... they specialize in amber jewellery. Amber (Bärnsten in Swedish) has deep roots in Scandinavian culture and history. It has been used for trading, jewellery and healing properties as far back as the Paleolithic Age and up through the Viking period until today. The most well known type of amber is gold in colour, but it does also come in a variety of colours from milky white to reddish brown and even green and blue. The stone also ranges from transparent to opaque.
Amber is fossilized tree resin and while it is found in several places around the world, the largest amounts, highest quality and most famous amber is found in southern Scandinavia and along the coasts of the Baltic Sea. This amber is between 30 and 44 million years old. Amber is mined is some places but can also be found washed up on the beaches... though it takes a keen eye to spot amber in its raw form.
The House of Amber is located in the Stureplan district and is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just four stations on the subway (red line) to Östermalmstorg, exiting to Stureplan. The boutique consists of two floors, with the second floor functioning as a mini-museum with amber artwork as well as information and interesting facts on the history of amber. A nice way to bring a piece of Scandinavia home with you. Don't forget that if you are a non-EU citizen, you can get the sales tax refunded when you leave Sweden. More information on tax free shopping.

April 30, 2015

Valborg (Walpurgis) Celebrations in Stockholm

Photo by Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Tonight is Valborgsmässoafton (or Walpurgis Eve) here in Sweden! This is a great, annual spring celebration where Swedes gather in the evening, light bonfires and sing traditional songs. Tomorrow, May 1st, is a bank holiday (International Workers Day) so younger celebrants can get a little rowdy. But it is all in good fun. There are official bonfires being lit tonight throughout the city (though mostly in the suburbs), but if you are staying at the Rival Hotel then there are two that are conveniently close to the hotel... if you wish to witness and partake in the festivities.
Valborg at Skansen, photo by Dan Larsson
The main celebration is at Skansen on the island of Djurgården. There will be things (concerts, speeches) going on all afternoon and early evening... but the all important bonfire will be lit at 9pm. Another place you can celebrate is on the island of Långholmen. Here they will light the bonfire at 8pm (though they start celebrating at 6pm). There is usually a large celebration in Gamla Stan and Riddarholmen. However, this year it is cancelled due to construction on the island of Riddarholmen. Click here for a full list of bonfires (list in Swedish). Happy Spring!

April 27, 2015

Adrián Villar Rojas at the Moderna

Last week I attended the press showing for Moderna Museet's (modern art museum) new exhibition: "Fantasma" by Adrián Villar Rojas (April 25th to October 25th, 2015). Villar Rojas is a hot name in the art world right now, with several well publicized exhibitions recently at the High Line in NYC, Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London and the Venice Biennale. We're happy that he is now in Stockholm!
The work process for Villar Rojas when he puts up an exhibition is quite different from other artists. First of all, his exhibitions are site-specific, based on the location, space and often what is available in terms of material. A process which sometimes requires months of onsite work. Secondly, he works with a team of collaborators (artists, engineers, craftsmen, etc.), with Villar Rojas working as the "artistic director" for the group, and their individual creativity can influence the exhibitions outcome. Thirdly, he works often with organic materials. This means that most of his work isn't permanent. Or at least it changes as the material deteriorates over time.
Part of the Louise Bourgeois exhibition (until May 15th).
I found the exhibition very interesting, especially to see how Villar Rojas utilized the space and light of the Moderna Museet. "Fantasma" is just one of several spring/summer exhibitions at the museum as well as their collection which is a permanent exhibition, though always changing. Moderna is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and is relatively easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... either by taking the Djurgårds Ferry from nearby Slussen (let them know, as you board, that you wish to disembark at Skeppsholmen) or by walking, crossing the bridge that connects the island with the downtown area. The ferry trip just takes 10 minutes. Moderna also has a great gift shop and café, both worth a trip in themselves.
Djurgård Ferry that takes you from Slussen to Skeppsholmen.
To take ferry back to Slussen (and the Rival), press the button to "call" the ferry.

April 23, 2015

ABBA by Calvero

I recently wrote about a fun, new exhibition at ABBA the Museum. And now more news from the museum! I was there yesterday evening for the unveiling of a new mini-exhibition... 15 photographs by legendary Swedish rock'n roll photographer Torbjörn Calvero featuring the members of ABBA. Some which have never been seen by the public before! The pictures are from around 1978-79 and are some great images of the Swedish super-group in their heyday. Not only are the pictures beautiful & fun to look at, they can also be purchased (numbered and signed by the photographer). The images will be on display on the entrance floor of the museum all this summer.
The museum is located on the island of Djurgården and is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel using the Djurgård ferry from nearby Slussen. Tickets to the museum can be pre purchased (time allotments) on their website. If you are staying at the hotel, contact me directly for any help or advice. By the way, have you heard the exciting news? Coming in January 2016: Mamma Mia! The Party! Something to look forward to...
My original blog article about the museum.

April 18, 2015

Stockholm Culture Night (Kulturnatt) 2015

Kulturnatt Stockholm: www.kulturnattstockholm.se  
This Saturday, April 25th, is the sixth annual Culture Night (Kulturnatt) in Stockholm. It has become quite popular! So, what exactly is a Culture Night? Well, it basically is an evening devoted to all things cultural... and FREE! Different cultural institutions in Stockholm are open during the evening (6pm to midnight), including museums, art galleries, libraries, churches, palaces, clubs, theatres, cinemas and more. This festival will have almost 400 events taking place at different locations throughout the city! And, as I mentioned earlier, admission is free... so this is a great opportunity to get cultural without damaging your wallet.
A concert last year, at Gustav Adolfs Torg. Photo by Emma Svensson.
There is a lot to choose from... art & museum exhibitions, concerts, dance, games, guided tours, performances, viewings and parties. Something for every taste! You can find a summary to download/print in English (pdf file) on their website (click here), just scroll down a bit for the link. More detailed information in Swedish along with the full program with actual events can be found by clicking here. Of course, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel... you can stop by and talk to me and I can help you with more detailed information. You can also stop by the Stockholm Visitor Center or Visit Djurgården for more information about what is happening! In past years they have had one official After Party (with live music, DJ's, dancing), but this year they are splitting it up and holding parties at four venues in different parts of the city. Free admission and open until 2am or 3am depending on the venue.

April 14, 2015

Stockholm City Bike Season 2015 Has Started!


We have a bike stand just outside the Rival Hotel!
Stockholm is a fabulous city to bike around... lots of late evening sunlight, plenty of parks and bicycle lanes. This is all made easier (and inexpensive) with the Stockholm City Bike system. They have approximately 100 bike stands spread throughout the city, even out into the suburbs. You have the choice of buying either a 3 day card for 165 SEK or a season card for 300 SEK (250 online). Guests often comment that they only want the bikes for one day. Well, they don't sell one day cards... but the price for three days is often cheaper than renting a bike for one day at other commercial bike rental companies. If you are guests at the Rival Hotel then you can purchase a 3 day card at the hotel (we do not sell season cards). But if you are not a guest, either check with your hotel or else you can purchase your card at over 200 different 7-11's and Pressbyrån kiosks in the city or at an SL Center. Click here for a list of retailers.
Bike path around Djurgården island.
After purchasing a card, you can check out a bike at any of the bike stands by holding up your card to the computer display and following the instructions. You can check out a bike at any of the stands between 6am and 10pm daily throughout the season. If the stand is empty, the display will point you in the direction of the nearest stand with bikes. Otherwise they will be by shortly to fill up the stand with new bicycles. You then have that bike for 3 hours. You are welcome to check out a new bike right away, but you have to leave the bike at a stand before 3 hours is up... otherwise you receive a demerit. 3 demerits and your card will be cancelled. This system is to stop people from taking bikes home or into their offices all day long and keeps more bikes in circulation. Be aware that the bikes don't come with locks, instead use the bike stands to lock your bikes (over 100 stands in the city!). It is important to note that you have to be 18 years old to use the bikes. If you are a family with children under 18, just talk to me and I will point you in the direction of a bike rental company that rents out children's bicycles.