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.

April 9, 2015

Festivals & Events in Stockholm - Spring, Summer and Fall 2015

National Day Celebration. Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
(EDIT: This is the calendar for 2015, for the current calendar... click here!) Much anticipated, here it comes... my annual calendar of fun events happening in Stockholm with special appeal for visitors. As usual, keep in mind that this is a work in progress and I often add new events as they become known (or I stumble upon them). Not all events are listed, just the larger ones. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and are looking for more obscure happenings, smaller events or more information on the events listed here, contact me directly and I will see what I can find. While some events listed might not be of interest to you, it is good to know that they are going on as some of them can cause traffic problems (marathon), high occupancy rates at hotels (concerts & matches) and/or closures of businesses (bank holidays). As I write this, several of the event websites aren't up and running yet or haven't been adjusted for 2015. Just check back when we get closer to the actual date.
I have noted the larger arena concerts taking place. There are also many concerts going on all summer long at the Gröna Lund amusement park. Below you will find some of the international artists performing there... but you can check their whole concert schedule with 45+ shows by clicking here (lots of great Swedish artists).

July (generally a slower month event-wise as most Swedes have their vacation then and leave the city)
Kastellholmen. Photo by Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

April 3, 2015

Spritmuseum's Restaurant

I had the opportunity yesterday to try yet another great restaurant in Stockholm! This time it was the restaurant within the Spritmuseum. In English this has been translated as "The Museum of Spirits", though I like to call it "The Museum of Adult Beverages" so that people don't confuse it with the ghostly type of spirits. One highlight of this museum is the Absolut Art Collection, though they do have several other permanent and temporary exhibitions. Click here to read about my visit a couple of years ago.
The setting...
But back to the restaurant! This place is on point when it comes to several of the hottest trends in Swedish gastronomy... 1. New Nordic Cuisine, 2. restaurants located in museums and cultural centers 3. creative focus on vegetarian dishes/options and 4. great culinary experiences at more humane prices. New Nordic espouses the use of local, seasonal produce while using innovative techniques or reviving old, traditional techniques. And I do love the trend of combining food & drink with a cultural experience. Besides Spritmuseum, another great example of this in Stockholm is the restaurant at Fotografiska (photography museum) which I recently visited. More on the vegetarian trend and pricing a bit later.
The vegetarian dishes featuring winter spinach, blackened beet,
parsley root, pickled celeriac and much more.
Head chef Petter Nilsson and manager/Sommelier Erika Lindström are the creative force behind this restaurant and their combined culinary knowledge and experience is quite impressive. Currently (until the summer) the restaurant has their fine dining option on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. They have a more casual a la carte menu on Tuesday evenings and lunch (daily). When summer starts they open up their outdoor garden terrace where they will serve an a la carte menu and the indoor restaurant will close for the season. Spritmuseum's location on Djurgården's waterfront, adjacent to other popular sites like the Vasa Museum, ABBA the Museum and Skansen, means that it is a great option for an al fresco lunch this summer. And soon, in time for the warm weather, they will open a floating pier in front of the museum where they promise to have Stockholm's largest assortment of beers on draft. Looking forward to that...
Omnivorous dishes with focus on lamb, langoustine and cod.
Last night we experienced their fine dining restaurant. Diners have a choice of three menus. A completely vegetarian 7 course menu, an omnivorous 7 course menu or you can go all out and try all 10 dishes... which we did! While I am a big meat eater, I love it when I am pleasantly surprised by delicious vegetarian dishes and this was definitely the case at Spritmuseum. As I mentioned earlier, focusing on vegetables as the main component of a dish is a growing trend here in Stockholm and it is wonderful that vegetarians have these fine dining options and don't have to feel like they are inconveniencing the kitchen (though they never should here in Stockholm). The prices won't ruin you either with the above menus costing 600, 750 and 1000 SEK respectively. This is quite good when compared to other similar restaurants and considering the culinary experience. We like this trend!
Desserts... buttermilk sherbert with dried blueberries, malt & porter,
apple compote with milk & meringue and bergamot genoise.
Don't miss Erika's wine pairings as well... they were interesting (focus on natural wines) as well as spot on. And keep in mind that, as they only use fresh, seasonal produce, the menus change often throughout the year... so check their website for current menus. It is easy to get to the restaurant/museum from the Rival Hotel, just hop on the Djurgård Ferry from nearby Slussen (10 minute ferry ride followed by 5 minute walk). If you are coming from the downtown area, then I recommend the Djurgård street car. If you are staying at the hotel, contact me for help with reservations. Click here for other restaurant reviews/recommendations.
Edit: The NY Times just wrote a postive review... so, speaking from experience, booking ahead is advised.