December 31, 2010

What to do on New Years Weekend?

(This is old information, for current info... click here!) What to do this New years weekend? Plenty to do... be aware that some museums are open one day and closed the other. Almost all stores are closed on New years Day... and many restaurants.


Friday, December 31th

Museums- Skansen is open from 10am to midnight. A very popular place with Swedes to ring in the New Year... with the hour before midnight filled with music and entertainment. Besides Skansen, the other museums open today are the Vasa Museum and the East Asian Antiquities Museum (Terracotta Warrior exhibit).
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 12:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour and Little Archipelago boat tour everyday all weekend.
Other activities- The midnight firework display will take place over the water on the eastern side of Stockholm (ocean side). This can easily be viewed anywhere on the waterfront or a place with a good view.
Ice skating at Kungsträdgården from 11am to 8pm. Hammarbybacken is open for skiing 9am to 4pm. 
Restaurants- Many restaurants closed and the ones that are open serve the traditional nyårsspé dinner. Hope you have a reservation... it's very hard to get one last minute!
Stores- many open, with shorter hours. NK Department store open 10am to 5pm. Gallerian shopping center open 11am to 5pm. Skrapan shopping center open 10am to 4pm.

Saturday, January 1st

Museums- Skansen, Fotografiska, The History Museum and the East Asian Antiquities Museum (where you can see the Terracotta Warrior Exhibition) are all open.
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 1:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour and Little Archipelago boat tour  everyday all weekend.
Other activities- Ice skating at Kungsträdgården from 11am to 8pm. Hammarbybacken is open for skiing 11am to 6pm.
Restaurants- Many restaurants are closed (hungover staff?)... there are restaurants open in the Stureplan district as well as hotel restaurants. Rival Bistro is open.
Stores- Most are closed, including NK, Gallerian and Skrapan.

Sunday, January 2nd

Museums- all major museums, including the Vasa Museum, are open for business.
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 1:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour and Little Archipelago boat tour everyday all weekend.
Other activities- Ice skating at Kungsträdgården from 11am to 8pm. Hammarbybacken is open for skiing 9am to 6pm.
Restaurants- many more restaurants are open for business, but it is a Sunday... so restaurants that are generally closed on Sundays will be closed today!
Stores- Open for business again! NK Department store open 12pm to 5pm. Gallerian shopping center open 11am to 5pm. Skrapan shopping center open 11am to 6pm.

The weather this weekend? Temperatures around -5 Celsius and snowfall expected late on New Year's Eve and in the morning on New Year's Day.

Happy New Years!
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December 26, 2010

How Do You Say "Sale" In Swedish?

Christmas is coming to an end... now comes the time that Swedes call Mellandagarna, meaning "middle days", which is the time between Christmas and New Years. It is the big shopping week here in Sweden and all types of stores drop their prices to get rid of excess stock brought in for Christmas. Wherever you go in Stockholm you will see signs that say REA! which is Swedish for "sale", or perhaps MELLANDAGSREA!
Where to go for the sales? The best place is the downtown area which has the highest concentration of stores. A great place to start is the NK Department Store which is located at the head of Kungsträdgården park. A beautiful store, here you will find everything from food to bedding to clothes to interior design. Across the street (kitty corner) you have the Gallerian Shopping Center with loads of stores. If you exit NK at the basement level you come to Sergelgången, an underground passageway lined with stores and leading to the Sergels torg square. At the far end of the square you come to a street that bisects the square called Drottninggatan (Queen's Street). This pedestrian street is a shopping mecca... heading north you'll first find Åhlen's Department Store and a couple of blocks later the PUB Department Store which is on the corner of Drottninggatan and Kungsgatan (King's Street). Heading east on Kungsgatan, you come to a high concentration of electronic stores like On/Off, Siba and Elgiganten. At the end of Kungsgatan you come to the posh district of Stureplan. Right on Stureplan square you have the Sturegallerian Shopping Center. This whole area, including the street Biblioteksgatan, is where you will find the high-end designer shops. To the east of Stureplan is Östermalm, a great place to find interior design stores... like Svensk Tenn.
That pretty much gives you a good overview of the downtown area. If you think it's too cold to fight the crowds in town, then you can find some great shopping closer to the Rival Hotel. Within a 10-15 minute walk of the hotel we have the pedestrian street Götgatsbacken, the shopping center Skrapan and the hip neighborhood of SoFo... all of which I have written about earlier.
Happy Shopping! For more shopping tips, click here!
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December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Lots of snow out there! We are having a cozy, white Christmas here at the Rival Hotel!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and safe holiday season... lots of winter travel disruptions out there, hope everyone gets to where they are going safe & sound.

Don't forget to join us on Facebook for more hotel information and deals!
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December 23, 2010

Christmas Mass in Stockholm 2010

EDIT: These times are from 2010. For current information, click here!
Almost all churches (of all denominations) have some type Christmas Mass this weekend. Close to the Rival Hotel we have two churches one Lutheran and one Catholic. The Lutheran churches will have services almost exclisively in Swedish, while the Catholic churches offer services in several languages.

Katarina Church (Lutheran) has a late night mass on the 24th at 11.30pm, otherwise they have a Christmas prayer at 5pm. On the 25th they have Christmas Mass at 11am. These services are in Swedish.

The main Catholic church in Stockholm is called Katolska Domkyrkan and is just a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel. They have the following mass times:

December 24th
8am- Swedish
9pm- Italian
10pm- Croatian
12am- Midnight Mass (in Swedish or Latin I assume, no language given on website)

December 25th
8:45am- Italian
11am- High Mass (in Swedish or Latin, I assume)
2pm- Spanish
3:30pm- Maronite Rite
5pm- Polish
6:30pm- Swedish

If you are looking for a Catholic Mass in English, you will have to head to the downtown area... to St Eugenia Church. They have a midnight mass on the 24th and a mass at 6pm on the 25th and 26th. All three in English!
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December 22, 2010

What to do on Christmas Weekend?

Edit: note the no swimming sign!
If you need a little help in planning in what to do while in Stockholm over the Christmas weekend, here are some options of things that are open & running day to day...

Friday, December 24th

Museums- Skansen is open from 10am to 2pm. Free entrance! The Stockholm Jewish Museum is also open from 12pm to 4pm. All other major museums are closed.
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 12:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour everyday all weekend.
Restaurants- Plan to eat at a hotel restaurant, any other restaurant of quality will be closed. The Rival Bistro is open!
Stores- many open, with shorter hours. NK Department store open 10am to 2pm. Gallerian shopping center open 10am to 2pm. Skrapan shopping center open 10am to 2pm.

Saturday, December 25th

Museums- Skansen, Fotografiska and the East Asian Antiquities Museum (where you can see the Terracotta Warrior Exhibition) are all open.
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 1:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour everyday all weekend.
Other activities- Ice skating at Kungsträdgården from 11am to 8pm. Hammarbybacken is open for skiing 11am to 4pm.
Restaurants- Besides hotel restaurants, a few other restaurants open for business. Especially in the Stureplan neighborhood.
Stores- Most are closed, including NK, Gallerian and Skrapan.

Sunday, December 26th

Museums- all major museums, including the Vasa Museum, are open for business.
The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in the Old Town: 1:15pm
Tours- Strömma offers the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, Panorama bus tour as well as the Winter boat tour everyday all weekend.
Other activities- Ice skating at Kungsträdgården from 11am to 8pm. Hammarbybacken is open for skiing 9am to 6pm.
Restaurants- many more restaurants are open for business, but it is a Sunday... so restaurants that are generally closed on Sundays will be closed today!
Stores- Open for business again! NK Department store open 12pm to 5pm. Gallerian shopping center open 10am to 6pm. Skrapan shopping center open 11am to 6pm.

December 17, 2010

This Weekend!

December 17th, 18th and 19th

The Winer Solstice is next Wednesday (Dec. 22nd). This the year's shortest/darkest day... but I think we can find some things going on in the city that might lighten the weekend for you!

  • They are celebrating the Winter Solstice in true pagan style at Skansen this weekend with "ice & fire" show. It will take place on the Solliden stage at 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Take advantage and visit their Christmas market... it is the last weekend they will be having it!
  • If you are a dog person then I have the perfect event for you... the Swedish Kennel Club has their FCI International dog show this weekend. It will be taking place at the International Fairgrounds in Älvsjö. Thousands of dogs on show and competing.
  • Advent Calendars are very popular in Sweden. Decorative pictures with little windows which you open once a day revealing an image or a poem. The Old Town (Gamla Stan) is having a living Advent Calendar this year. Everyday a window opens at a different adress in the Old Town to reval a choir, a singer, musicians or other artists. The windows open at 6:15pm, except on Christmas Eve when it opens at 11:30am. Their website is in Swedish, but there you will find a map showing the different addresses and dates.
  • The Maxim Theater is putting on a performance of Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Performances start on December 20th and run through January 8th (no show on the 24th, 25th and Jan 1st). It is a British cast, so the show is in English! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel then, contact me and I can help you with tickets.
The weather this weekend? Lots of snow, with temperatures between 0 and -5 degrees Celsius. Colder air expected on Sunday evening. Good news... it is pretty much official now: Stockholm will be having a white Christmas this year! (Both pictures here were taken outside of the hotel this morning)

December 14, 2010

Museums During the Christmas Holidays 2010/11

(EDIT: this is infor for 2010/11, for current info... click here!) Museums and other tourist sites have pretty generous opening hours during the holiday season. There is no day where eveything is closed! Here is a short list of the most popular museums and the days they are closed, which will make it easier for you to plan your stay in Stockholm!

Vasa Museum- closed December 23rd, 24th, 25th and January 1st.
Skansen- open 365 days a year!
National Museum- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th and 31st as well as January 1st.
History Museum- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th and 31st.
Fotografiska- closed December 24th and 31st.
Nordic Museum-  closed December 24th, 25th and 31st.
Nobel Museum- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.
Mideaval Museum- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.
East Asian Antiquities Museum(Terracotta Army exhibit)- closed December 24th
Stockholm City Museum- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st. They are still offering the Stieg Larsson Millenium tour on Christmas Day and New Years Day, but be aware that you need to buy tickets ahead of time as the museum is closed.
Royal Palace(and adjacent museums)- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.
Millesgården- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th and January 1st.
Modern Art (Moderna)- closed Mondays, December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.

So, in short... you have Skansen open everyday including the 24th, East Asian Antiquities and Fotografiska on the 25th, Vasa on the 31st and History on the 1st. So you always have at least two museums to choose from everyday (except the 24th)!

December 11, 2010

St Lucia Day

Photo: Marie Andersson, Skansen
(EDIT: Click here for information regarding 2014 Lucia) This Monday, December 13th, is St Lucia Day... an important day is the Swedish holiday calendar and one of the most beautiful of Swedish traditions. The main tradition is that of a parade of white clad singers holding a candle, led by a young woman (Lucia) with a wreath of candles in her hair. They sing the Lucia song while entering, followed by Christmas carols. This procession will take place in homes, schools and churches all through Sweden on Monday. In homes the processions are made up of the children in the family coming into their parents room in the morning. Elsewhere the Lucia is often elected. Check out videos on youtube to get a better idea of the ceremony.
Photo: Marie Andersson, Skansen
As a visitor to Stockholm, your best chance of witnessing this tradition is either in a church or at Skansen. Churches can have one or two processions/concerts during the afternoon and evening. There is generally an admission fee and tickets should be bought ahead of time as this is quite a popular event. While churches provide perhaps the most beautiful setting, the downside is that the church service will be generally done in Swedish and may be a bit hard for tourists to understand! The other option is Skansen. This is Stockholm's outdoor cultural museum and zoo and a great place to experience genuine Swedish traditions. Here you will find Lucia celebrations going on all day and into the evening... There will be four Lucia concerts in the Seglora church (12:30, 2:00, 3:30 and 5pm), otherwise the main Lucia procession & concert (with the official Lucia of Sweden) will be at the Solliden stage at 6pm. Please remember that most of Skansen is outdoors, so dress accordingly! The easiest way to get to Skansen from the Rival Hotel is to take the Djurgårds Ferry from Slussen (a 10 minute walk from the hotel).
Photo: Henrik Trygg, Stockholms Visitors Board

December 10, 2010

This Weekend!


December 10th, 11th and 12th


"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight,we're happy tonight.Walking in a winter wonderland..."


  • As I mentioned earlier this week (scroll down to previous blog entry), tonight (Friday) is the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony and dinner. Nothing much for visitors to see... but be aware of possible traffic problems in the downtown area around the different venues.
  •  St Lucia Day is next Monday, but you can experience the tradition already this weekend at Skansen. There will be a Lucia concert in the Seglora church at 1 and 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Combine the concert with a visit to their Christmas market which is open both days from 10am to 4pm.  
  • And speaking of Christmas markets, two very special markets are opening this weekend. The Beckmans School of Design is having their annual, and very popular, Christmas market. The perfect place to buy a one of a kind designed present or ornament. Open between 11am and 5 pm both Saturday & Sunday, it is located in Östermalm. The second special market is for you history buffs... The History Museum is having their Viking Christmas Market this weekend with music, archery, and historical handicrafts, Between 11am and 5pm (closes at 4pm on Sunday). 
  • The photography museum, Fotografiska, has a new exhibition by the photographer Christopher Makos. It is a unique series of photos showing Andy Warhol as his alter-ego Lady Warhol. It is a world premiere for this exhibition which runs through to March 20th. And tonight (Friday) at 6pm, Christopher Makos will be at the museum signing his book "Lady Warhol".

For Wildlife Lovers... while walking the waterfront in the Old Town or taking the ferry to Djurgården this weekend, keep your eyes open! A grey seal has been spotted several times this week swimming near the palace. It is not that common of an event, but biologists say that this will become more and more common as the seal population in the Baltic Sea grows. They are shy creatures, but you might be lucky to see a seal bobbing in the waters around Stockholm.

The weather this weekend? Between -2 and -10 degres Celsius. Overcast with chance of snow flurries!

    December 8, 2010

    Nobel Prize Ceremonies

    This Friday, December 10th, is the date for the Nobel Prize Cermonies in Oslo (Peace Prize) and Stockholm (all other prizes). The winners have all arived in the city and this week is filled with seminars, lectures and press confernces. As a visitor to Stockholm during this time, you really can't take part in any of the festivities or events as they are generally invitation-only. The one event that is open for the public is the Nobel Concert in the Stockholms Konserthus on Wednesday evening. There are only a few seats still available. For more information and to book tickets click here. Otherwise it is good to be aware that there can be some traffic problems in the downtown area on Friday evening as police escorts take award winners, diplomats and the royal family from their hotels to the Konserthuset and then to the City Hall for the dinner.
    If you want to get a little feel for the Nobel Awards and festivities, then I recommend visiting the Nobel Museum in the Old Town as well as City Hall where you can tour the beautiful halls where the famous dinner is served each year. At the City Hall you also have the restaurant Stadshuskällaren where you can actually try the dinners served to the award winners each year.
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    December 7, 2010

    Winter Sport Activities in Stockholm

    Are you feeling a bit sporty or adventurous? There is plenty to keep you occupied during the winter months and it all happens very close to the city, if not within.
          
      Photo: Henrik Trygg- Stockholms Visitors Board
    • Ice Skating: I've already reported on the outdoor ice skating rink in the middle of the city at Kungsträdgården. If you feel like doing some long distance skating on the frozen lakes and rivers around Stockholm, then it is better to do it in a group with a guide (it's still a little early in the season). Two good guide companies that offers such tours, including equipment rental, are the Stockholms Guidebyrå and Ice Guide. They can be contacted at info@stockholmsguidebyra.se and info@iceguide.se (they have a contact form on their website) for more information and booking. Click here for a list of cleared skating routes in the greater Stockholm area. 
    • Cross Country Skiing: If you have your own equipment then there are many tracks around the city, including Djurgården. I'm having trouble finding a place that rents cross country skis, but if I find a place then I will report back!
    • Photo: Skistar.com/hammarbybacken
    • Alpine Skiing & Snowboarding: There are several hills in and around Stockholm high enough to support some alpine skiing! I've already reported on the opening of Hammarbybacken this week. This is by far the closest slope, in fact you can see the slope from parts of Södermalm where the Rival Hotel is located and the there is a great view of the city from the top of the hill. There are lifts and a restaurant and they do rent skiing equipment! Click here for some short movies of the slope. There are a few other slopes on the outskirts of the city... including Ekholmsnäsbacken, Flottsbro and Väsjöbacken. 
     
    I would be remiss in talking about winter sport activities without mentioning Hellasgården. This nature area is located in Nacka, just a 15 minute bus ride on #401 from Slussen (10 minute walk from the hotel). Here you can find plenty of walking paths, cross skiing tracks and outdoor ice skating (with rental). Another activity offered here, not for the faint of heart (literally), is ice swimming. A very nordic activity involving heating up in a sauna or bastu and then plunging into frigid waters. Brrrr...!
    

    December 3, 2010

    This Weekend!



    December 3rd, 4th & 5th

    Winter has a tight grip on northwest Europe. This has caused quite a lot of travel disruptions... we hope that your travel plans aren't affected! Stockholm has become a winter wonderland with lots of activities going on.

    • I have written earlier about all of the Christmas markets in the city. This weekend there is a special market open at Drottningholm Palace. It is a little bit outside of the city, but worth the trip. A popular market... here you will find all sorts of traditional handicaft, hand made holiday decorations as well as delectable treats. While you are there, see the palace as well. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List! The easiest way to get there from the hotel, besides driving, is to take the subway to Brommaplan (green line) and from there take bus #301-323, or 177 & 178 to Drottningholm. More info!
    • The Architecture Museum is having their 20th annual gingerbread house exhibition. It is running from December 1st to January 9th... but the competition is only until December 10th, and the public gets to vote! This year's theme is "I'm home now" and there are three categories: Professional architects & bakers, amateurs and children up to 12. The winners will be announced on December 12th. The museum is open 10am to 6pm all weekend and can be combined with the Modern Art Museum that is just next door.
    • After 5 years in Malmö, Leksaksland (a museum dedicated to toys) is returning to Stockholm... with the premiere this weekend. Perfect for children or parents experiencing nostalgia, it is located in the downtown area so it is easy to pop in and take a break from holiday shopping.
    And now for something happening on Monday, December 6th: Hammarby Ski Slope is opening for the season! Thanks to the cold weather and early snow, the slope is opening earlier than usual. It is a small slope but offers an unique experience... from the top of the mountain you can see out over Stockholm! It is located just to the south of the Södermalm neighborhood. During the first week they will be open in the evenings (5pm to 10pm) on the weekdays and 9am to 6pm on the weekends. They do rent ski equipment there. Contact me at the hotel for more information.

    The weather this weekend? A little colder on Friday & Saturday (between -5 and -10 degrees Celsius) with it warming up on Sunday to about -3. Cloudy with some snowfall.

    December 2, 2010

    Rival Christmas Carol



    And now for something a little fun... Benny Andersson, the hotel owner and founding member of ABBA, has written a little Christmas carol that the hotel staff has recorded. While we are in no way professional singers, it is our way of wishing all of our guests (past, present and future!) a wonderful and safe holiday season! See if you can spot me...
    Don't forget to join us on Facebook for more hotel information and fun facts! You can actually check availibility and book a room at the Rival Hotel directly on our Facebook page. What will they think of next?

    November 30, 2010

    Warning- Winter Weather!

    A little warning to travellers coming to Stockholm this week and next. They are predicting cold, bordering on record-breaking, temperatures for the next couple of days. Tomorrow and Thursday may see temperatures down towards -20 degrees Celsius in some parts of Stockholm. It should ease up by the weekend when a new system brings in warmer weather (-5 or so) and snow. The 10 day prognosis shows continuing temperatures below zero... and meterologists are saying that we may have another vargvinter ("Wolf's Winter"- local term for chillier than normal winter) on our hands like we did last year. The good news is that the snow makes it light, cheery & beautiful! On the other hand, meterology isn't an exact science: so it is a good idea to keep an eye on weather websites before your trip and pack accordingly!
    Two good websites for Stockholm weather: www.smhi.se and www.yr.no
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    Photography Exhibition with a Rival Twist

    Photo by Daniel Lindberg
    Photo by Daniel Lindberg
    Photo by Daniel Lindberg
    Not only is Daniel Lindberg one of the Rival Hotel's fantastic bartenders, he is also an accomplished photographer! He has had several successful showings in Stockholm, even here at the hotel, and is now rounding off 2010 with a small exhibition of some of his favorite pieces from previous exhibitions. The exhibition is called "This and That" (Ett och Annat) and contains photographs that all have a special meaning for Daniel, including some great images of Stockholm. The showing runs until December 10th and can be seen at Café Mariaberget on Blecktornsgränd 4, just a stone's throw from the hotel. The café is on the way to Monteliusvägen, that I've reported on earlier, with its great views of the city. Great combination... have an espresso at the café and admire his photographs before heading up to see the view. Then, in the evening, you can talk to Daniel as he mixes your cocktails in the Rival's Bar. You never know... you may be able to haggle a good deal on a photograph to take home with you! Café Mariaberget is open from 11am to 6pm on Tuesday through Friday, and 11am to 5pm on Saturday & Sunday.
    Check out his website to learn more about Daniel and his work...
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    November 27, 2010

    Swedish Holiday Traditions

    If you are coming to Stockholm anytime between now and the first week or so of January, then it is good to be aware of some of the Swedish holiday tradtions especially the ones that may not be found in your own country.
    • Calendar: Besides Christmas itself, you have several other important dates. The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are the Advent Sundays. The tradition is to light a candle on the first Sunday and then an additional candle for each Sunday after that, until you have 4 candles burning on Christmas. The 13th of December is St Lucia Day, not a bank holiday, but a day with many traditions. I'll write more as the date approaches. December 26th is a bank holiday though here it is not called Boxing Day but Annandag Jul (2nd Day of Christmas). Finally there is the Epiphany, called Trettondedag Jul (13th Day of Christmas) which falls on January 6th and is also a bank holiday. It is also good to note that the main Swedish Christmas celebration is on the evening of the 24th, not the 25th, when families gather for dinner and get a visit from Father Christmas (jultomten), who actually physically visits the home with presents (usually a family member or neighbour in disguise).
    • Food & Drink: The main Swedish holiday food tradition is the Christmas smörgåsbord called julbord. This buffet resembles a regular smörgåsbord with the addition of more holiday related foods like ham and lutefisk. Many Swedish restaurants serve this all through December until Christmas. It is almost impossible to visit Sweden this time of year and avoid glögg, a Swedish mulled wine... spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. It is usually served with blanched almonds and raisins as well as gingerbread and/or saffron buns called lussebullar or lussekatter. Glögg does come in several "strengths", from non-alcoholic to regular to strong.
    The Visit Sweden website does a great job of describing Swedish holiday traditions... check out what they have to say about Christmas, Lucia, holiday food & drink and how Swedes celebrate.

    Pictures to follow...

    November 26, 2010

    This Weekend!

    Photo by Henrik Trygg- Stockholm Visitors Bureau
    November 26th, 27th & 28th

    Ooooh... lots going on this weekend! Horses, Santa, Freddy Kreuger and a gingerbread man or two. This weekend we celebrate första advent, the first of the four Advent Sundays before Christmas.
    • The Stockholm International Horse Show is going on all three days at the Globe Arena located in southern Stockholm. This is the largest indoor equestrian event in the world. Plenty to see here... shows and competitions in dressage, jumping and hand driving. There will even be a royal in attendance as well as ponies and camels.
    • Head down to the Stockholm Central train station to see the Gingerbread Factory... made out of approximately 1,000 kilograms of gingerbread. Take a chance to decorate and do some tasting! Santa will be there to supervise. Friday through Sunday, 10am to 6pm... entrance is free!
    • Two conventions going on at the Stockholm International Fairgrounds in Älvsjö. We have both the Photography Convention with exhibitions, seminars and shopping. Then there is the Scandinavian Sci-Fi and Film Convention... plenty of sci-fi stars here and your chance to see Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger)!
    • A lot of Christmas Markets are starting this weekend including the ones at Skansen, the Royal Stables, Konstfack and in Kungsträdgården. For more detailed information, scroll down or click here!
    • On Sunday, at 3pm, Stockholm's Christmas Tree will be lit. It is located on Skeppsbron waterfront in the Old Town (Gamla Stan). You can't miss it... it's huge! You can purchase some mulled wine (glögg) and snacks, listen to a children's choir and watch them light the tree.
    • Lots in interesting exhibitions in museums and galleries this fall/winter. Click here (scroll down) and here for more information.
    The weather this weekend? Bundle up! We have plenty of snow on the ground and they are predicting cloudy weather and teperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius.

    November 24, 2010

    Christmas Markets in Stockholm

    Middle of Gamla Stan
    
    
     The dates and times here are for 2010- for 2011, click here!
    Now that the holidays are around the corner, Christmas Markets (julmarknader) are starting to pop up around the city... and today your intrepid blogger braved the first winter storm to visit the market in the Old Town to make a report. The christmas market that is located in the main square of the Old Town (Stortorget i Gamla Stan) is the quintessential market and the first to open for the season. It is open daily from 11am to 6pm until December 23rd. Here you can purchase ceramics, hand-made candles, Swedish christmas decorations, arts & craft of the Sami, winter accessories, sausages, fresh baked bread and mustards & jams. There's a lot to snack on as well... hot dogs, waffles, candy and Swedish mulled wine (glögg). It's the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit! Free entrance and just a 12 minute walk from the Rival Hotel.
    Santas and...
    
    Another great market is the one at Skansen which is located on Djurgården. This christmas market is open on Saturdays & Sundays from 10am to 4pm up until Christmas. Otherwise there are a lot of Christmassy things going on during the weekdays... Skansen, as always, is the perfect place to experience Swedish traditions. There is an entrance fee to enter the park.

    angels.
    Kungsträdgården, located right in the middle of the city, has a christmas market as well which is open on weekends, but from the 4th of December will be open daily from 11am to 6pm. The advantage of this market is that it is a stone's throw from serious shopping, like the NK department store, and Santa Claus (jultomten) visits every Saturday & Sunday during the markets opening hours. You can also take in some outdoor ice skating as well. No entrance fee!

    A market quite close to the Rival Hotel is located in SoFo. During the autumn it is a farmers market but for the first three Saturdays in December (10am to 3pm) it turns into a Farmers Christmas Market.
    Other markets include the one at Beckmans School of Design on Decemebr 11th & 12th and the market at the Royal Stables on November 26th through 28th. Contact me for more detailed information.
    
    
    wreaths
    Another option is to visit a christmas market outside of the city... plenty to choose from! Strömma Sightseeing offers day trips to the island of Utö. They serve breakfast on the way out and, after 2½ hours visiting the market and village, they serve a Christmas buffet on the boat trip back. The trip lasts from 10am to 6pm and costs 850 SEK. There are also markets going on in Sigtuna on the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas, Dalarö from November 27th to December 19th and in Jungfrusund on the weekend of December 4th & 5th.
    

    November 23, 2010

    Restaurants During the Christmas & New Year Holidays

    
    
    Photo by: Henrik Trygg, Stockholms Visitors Board
    (Edit: for current information click here for a newer blog article!) I have already written about this once, but it is time for a friendly reminder...
    As a tourist coming to Stockholm, you should be aware that many restaurants close during the holiday season. Some close just for the main holiday dates (Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, etc;), others close for a few more extra days while others actually close for a couple of weeks. When it comes to Christmas Eve, you should plan on eating in a hotel restaurant. They are the only restaurants of real quality open on that date. Many of the major hotels are open to general public, so you do have a choice! The Rival's Bistro is open to all guests (whether you are staying at the hotel or not) during the entire holiday season and there you can enjoy a menu filled with both Swedish Classics and international favorites. We will not be serving a Christmas smörgåsbord this year. To make a reservation, contact the bistro at bistro@rival.se . On Christmas Day a few more restaurants open in the city for business again and on Boxing Day a few more... so you don't have to only eat at hotels during your stay. As many restaurants do close, the ones that are open do tend to fill up so reserving a table on the same day can be difficult in some cases. I would recommend, if you are staying at The Rival Hotel, to contact me at concierge@rival.se and I will help you with recommendations of restaurants that are open as well as with eventual table reservations. If you are not staying at the Rival then I suggest you contact your hotel for help.
    
    Photo by: Henrik Trygg, Stockholms Visitors Board
    Regarding the New Year's weekend, it is New Year's Eve that is the tricky day. While some restaurants are closed, the majority will be open and will be serving a traditional multi-course New Years supper (nyårssupé). This is quite popular and last minute reservations are a near impossibilty... so make sure you have your dinner plans arranged before coming to Stockholm! The Rival's Bistro will be serving a traditional nyårssupé starting at 7:30pm. After dinner there will be a DJ playing in the Cocktail Bar, which is open until 2am. Local fireworks can be viewed from the Bistro's balcony, otherwise it is only a 10 minute walk down to the waterfront where the official firework display can be seen at midnight. For more information about the Rival's New year's Eve dinner and celebration click here. Many restaurants will be closed on New Years Day and the next (mainly due to staff hangovers one can assume!). Once again, if you are staying at the hotel, contact me for recommendations and reservations...

    November 19, 2010

    This Weekend!

    Photo by: Nicho Södling

    November 19th, 20th & 21st

    The holiday season is approaching fast... adding a little color to the events this weekend.

    • If all things cinematic is your thing, then Stockholm is the place to be this weekend! The Stockholm International Film Festival is in full swing with movies being shown in theaters all over the city. Check their website here or ask me at the hotel for more information of films and events.
    • The first Christmas Market of the season opens on Saturday. Get a jump start on your Christmas shopping or just enjoy a glass of glögg (Swedish mulled wine) as you walk through the stalls. It will be open daily between 11am and 6pm until December 23rd. This market is located in the main square in the Old Town (Stortorget in Gamla Stan). 
    • On Saturday we have the fifth annual Stadium Winter Jam taking place at Stockholm Stadion (old Olympic stadium). There is both a skiing and snowboarding competition as well as a winter fair and it all takes place between 11am and 5pm. Best of all... no entrance charge!
    • On Sunday it is the traditional beginning of Christmas with Skyltsöndag when stores begin their holiday window decorations, and nothing says Christmas more to a Stockholmer than the window decorations in the NK department store. The big reveal will at 11:50am and the theme this year will reflect the fact that we live in a multicultural era. Right across the street you have the Kungsträdgården park where there will be Christmas caroling at 2pm on the center stage, marking the end of the Christmas parade. Why not take in a little ice skating while you wait?
    The weather this weekend? They are predicting temperatures around zero with rain or snow.

    November 17, 2010

    Winter Sightseeing With Strömma

    Strömma is Stockholm's premiere sightseeing company and last night a colleague and I attended their pre-winter party... a nice evening on their boats where they presented their winter offers and tours.
    The Archipelago Tour w/ Guide continues through the winter taking visitors a bit out in the archipelago leaving each Saturday & Sunday at noon. During the winter Strömma adds a special Winter Tour several times a day from December 21st until April 7th (yes our winters can last that long!). The tour takes you through the Stockholm port and out to the islands of Fjäderholmarna... running about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There is food and drink available onboard and the cost is 190 SEK, half price for children between 6 and 11.
    Photo by Magnus Rietz
    A special Swedish Christmas tradition is the julbord, a holiday version of the classic smörgåsbord. Strömma gives you the opportunity to combine the julbord with a boat tour. Between November 25th and December 22nd, several boats a day will take guests through Stockholm and out among the islands all the while they enjoy a traditional Christmas feast. Four different boats leave at several times during the day... at noon, in the afternoon or in the evening. The cost runs from 425 SEK up to 675 SEK, depending on the time of day. There is also a special Christmas by Light tour that stays close to the city... you can enjoy an American/Swedish Christmas buffet while admiring the Christmas light displays along the waterfront. This is offered from November 30th through December 21st and the cost is 675 SEK per person.
    Photo by Magnus Rietz
    While many of the traditional sightseeing boat tours take a break during the winter season, remember that the Panorama bus tour runs year round!

    November 14, 2010

    Restaurant- Le Bar Rouge

    
    le entrance!
    le interior!
    I kicked off my weekend with an after-work visit to Le Rouge with friends. Located in the Old Town (Gamla Stan), Le Rouge is one of celebrity chef Melker Andersson's restaurants and is his homage to all things French. The restaurant is actually divided into two... the restaurant proper, Brasserie Le Rouge, with entrance via Brunnsgränd and then the bar, Le Bar Rouge, with the entrance on Österlånggatan. The interior design in both is fantastical and the same... Paris at the turn of the century. Lots of red velvet with gold fringe. A cross between Moulin Rouge and a French brothel (in the best way possible)... you keep waiting for Nicole Kidman to swing by on a chandelier! We spent our evening at Le Bar which is a watering hole for Stockholmers and a great place to meet over a glass of champagne. The menu here is as French as it is in the restaurant though a bit more relaxed and you will find all your favorites... chevré chaud, moules frites, duck paté and steak tartare. What I really like about their menu is that they have several typical dishes in appetizer form which are great to combine with each other and have with cocktails. If you are more in the mood for a traditional and relaxing dinner, then head next door to their restaurant... otherwise Le Bar is the perfect place for a drink and a bite to eat after sightseeing in Gamla Stan! Easy (10 minute) walking distance from the Rival Hotel, both the bar and the restaurant are open everyday except Sunday.
    Click here for other restaurant recommendations...

    November 12, 2010

    This Weekend!


    Photo by: Nicho Södling
     November 12th, 13th & 14th

    This is kind of an odd weekend... inbetween Halloween (All Saints) and next weekend when the Christmas season kicks off. There are still some interesting things going on though!

    Click here for other museum tips!

      November 10, 2010

      Restaurant- Roxy

      Yesterday evening a friend and I went to one of my favorite restaurants... Roxy! This is one of those restaurants that I think really deliver on food, location and service. It is located right on Nytorget square in the SoFo neighborhood, one of the most vibrant parts of Stockholm. The staff are very personable and give great service. You feel like a "regular" guest even if it is your first visit.
      pork bourguignon

      avec kit
      The menu leans towards Spanish cuisine and there is something for everyone including some great vegetarian dishes. I really had trouble deciding what to get, but finally I chose their Spanish version of Beef Bourguignon made with pork (Pata Negra). I wasn't disappointed... it was the perfect dish with a winter storm raging outside. For dessert we both took the "avec kit": espresso or cappuccino, dark chocolate truffel and your choice of calvados, cognac or pear liqueur.
      It is easy to get to Roxy's from the hotel. It's 15 minutes or so if you walk, otherwise the closest subway station is Skanstull (green line). The SoFo neighborhood is filled with great shops, so Roxy would be the perfect place for an early dinner after doing some Christmas shopping.
      Click here for more restaurant recommendations!
      .