October 27, 2016

All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day and Halloween- 2016

In past years they lit up the Globe arena as a jack 'o lantern. http://instagram.com/globearenas
Whether you celebrate the more commercial Halloween or the more spiritual All Saints' Day, this is a special holiday weekend coming up (Oct 31st and Nov 4th to 6th)!  Halloween does, of course, have its roots in the traditional All Hallows' Eve celebration... but the Americanized Halloween holiday has become more and more popular here in Sweden over the past 10-15 years. On the days surrounding the 31st, don't be surprised to see children and young adults dressed in costumes on the streets of Stockholm. But if you really want to party like a ghoul then you shouldn't miss the Shockholm festival, especially their parade (which is the largest Halloween parade in Scandinavia). The parade takes place on Saturday, November 5th, starting at 5pm from Kungsträdgården park, directly after a pre-parade party (3pm-5pm) with costume contests and other activities. The parade route will go around the old town (Gamla Stan) before returning back to Kungsträdgården for the costume prize ceremony.
Skogskyrkogården, photo by
(c) Susanne Hallmann, Kyrkogårdsförvaltningen Stockholms stad

For a more spiritual celebration of the holiday, head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Skogskyrkogården. This is the beautiful Woodland Cemetery, designed by architect Gunnar Asplund and located in the southern suburbs of the city. This site is a great place to visit year-round, but it is especially beautiful (and significant) on this weekend when thousands of people come to the cemetery to leave decorations and candles at the graves of relatives. There will be staff on hand on All Saints' Day (Nov 5th) to help with maps and grave searches and there will be music in several of the chapels. To get to Skogskyrkogården from the downtown area, take the subway (green line) in the direction of Farsta Strand. Exit at the station Skogskyrkogården. Just 7 stops from the Slussen station which is near the Rival Hotel.

All Saints' Day. Photo: Cecilia Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se
On Sunday, November 6th, there will be a torch walk along the lake Brunnsviken located in Haga park. Start at 4pm and there is a program with music as well. And finally, to really get in to the mood... why not partake in a Ghost Walk sightseeing tour of Gamla Stan. This is the old medieval center of the city where many bloody events have taken place throughout the city's history (like the infamous Stockholm Bloodbath!). The guides on these walks really make this history come alive...

October 21, 2016

Overview: Christmas in Stockholm 2016

It might seem a bit early, but I am already receiving many questions regarding the holiday season... so this should be timely information for many. One thing I have noticed over the years in this business is that many visitors don't take into consideration that different countries celebrate the holiday in different ways due to either traditional, religious or cultural differences. These are generally not huge differences, but large enough that it can mess up your planning if you arrive unaware. Hopefully this information will help you!
While Sweden has the same problem as the rest of the world when it comes to creeping consumerism (holiday decorations already in October?)... traditionally the Christmas season here is during the four weeks, also known as Advent, leading up to the holiday itself. This is the time when you can visit Christmas markets, see holiday concerts and eat the traditional Christmas smorgasbord (julbord) at restaurants. This basically all stops after December 23rd. There are no holiday markets open on the 24th and 25th and only a couple of restaurants that still serve julbord.
So, what happens on December 24th and 25th? The 24th is the day Swedes celebrate Christmas and this is the point which can mess up visitors as the 25th is main day in many countries. Families and friends gather at homes in the early evening for dinner. Santa Claus, or jultomten, stops by with presents for the children (usually a friend or neighbour in costume). Generally speaking, stores will close in the early afternoon and almost all museums (with the exception of Skansen) are closed. The vast majority of restaurants are closed as well.
The 25th is seen more as a day of rest, recovering from the festivities, perhaps lunch with family. This means that all stores are closed. When it comes to restaurants and museums, most are also closed... though you have a couple of more options than on the 24th. December 26th? This is actually also a bank holiday in Sweden (Annandag jul- or "second day of Christmas"). More restaurants and museums are open as well stores as this is the beginning of the holiday sales, called mellandagsrea.
Check back in a few weeks for full detailed lists of the opening hours for museums and stores over the holidays. In the meantime you can check my lists from last year for museums & sightseeing tours and department stores & shopping centers to get a good idea. I will also write a post in the middle of November about the different Christmas markets in Stockholm.

October 13, 2016

Calendar of Events & Festivals Fall / Winter 2016

Autumn walk at Djurgården.
Photo by Jeppe Wikström/mediabank.visitstockholm.com
Leaves are falling and the air is crisp and cool... summer definitely feels like a distant memory. Time to look at all of the upcoming fun events in the Stockholm calendar. I have already written about this season's major art exhibitions and sightseeing options, but it is always good to see what might be going on in the city while you are visiting!



These are the highlights of the calendar... there are, of course, many other smaller events, fairs and concerts. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly for more information.

October 5, 2016

Restaurant Nytorget 6

This past Sunday I was out with a group of friends celebrating joint birthdays. We decided on dinner at Nytorget 6. Once upon a time, one of my favorite restaurants, Roxy, was located here... but a few years ago they closed and Nytoget 6 took over. While I have eaten lunch here and also visited the restaurant as part of a food tour of Södermalm, this was my first visit for dinner.
The upstairs and...
Nytorget 6 (both the name and actual address of the restaurant) is located in the famous SoFo district of Södermalm, and it is a typical SoFo restaurant: hip and laid back. The area has many good restaurants (like Urban Deli just next door and Nook around the corner) and is quite lively in the evenings. Nytorget 6 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner... 7 days a week. Nice with generous opening hours!
...the downstairs.
The restaurant is very popular, especially a few years ago when a major newspaper (NY Times?) wrote a travel article about Stockholm and named the restaurant as a must-visit for dinner. For about a year after the article came out, it was almost impossible to book a table there without a couple of weeks notice; thankfully it seems to have lightened up a bit. I thought perhaps that it would even be a little quiet on a Sunday evening in October, but the place was packed.
Plank steak with french fries and bearnaise.
The restaurant has two floors, an open and airy street level dining room as well as a cozy dining room in the cellar. We were seated downstairs which was quite nice as we were a larger group. The menu is large and very international with everything from Swedish meatballs to grilled tuna burger to Entrecôte. I suppose the restaurant is mostly known for its rotisserie where they grill a variety of meats. Our group ordered different dishes, but I took the plank Hereford beef steak from the rotisserie. Click here for dinner menu in English.
Steamed arctic char.
As I mentioned, Nytorget 6 is located in SoFo... which means that it is on the same island as the Rival Hotel (Södermalm). However, it is on the other side of the island from us and would take about 20-25 minutes to walk to. Otherwise it is a quick taxi ride or subway trip. Nearest subway station is Skanstull (green line). Click here for more restaurant reviews/recommendations.

October 1, 2016

Saturday Lunch and Sunday Brunch at the Rival!

Now for some inhouse business: Here at the Rival Hotel, we have had an incredibly popular Sunday Brunch in our Bistro for several years now, but we have also started recently with Saturday Lunch! Both are open for the general public, not only hotel guests.
The Brunch is served every Sunday between 1pm and 6pm. It is a fantastic buffet filled with both international and Swedish favorites... pancakes, egg & bacon, chicken wings, Caesar salad, steak tartar, cold cuts, assorted breads, desserts and much, much more. As I mentioned, it is one of the most popular brunches in Stockholm. This means that you need to book at least two weeks in advance to be guaranteed a table.
We recently started with lunches on Saturdays (1pm to 4pm). We often have matinee shows in our theatre on Saturdays, so an a la carte lunch works better than a full brunch buffet. On the lunch menu you will find Swedish favorites like Toast Skagen, Wallenbergare and  Biff Rydberg as well as more international dishes like the Rival Burger, seafood bouillabaisse and Caesar salad.
These are the only two days during the week when the Rival Bistro is open during the daytime. Otherwise it is open every evening, year-round... including major holidays. To book either the Saturday Lunch or Sunday Brunch (or dinner), call +46(0)8 545 789 15, send an e-mail to bistro@rival.se or book online.