April 23, 2019

A Sure Sign of Spring in Stockholm

Every spring, for a few weeks, Stockholmers make a pilgrimage to the square Kungsträdgården to look at (and, of course, photograph) the cherry blossom trees. Our personal social media accounts are filled with pictures of these pink trees with text stating "spring is here" or something else of that nature. It really is like clockwork.
As I am a slave to tradition and the trees are really quite spectacular, I made my pilgrimage yesterday with some friends to enjoy the beautiful trees... and we weren't alone! It was a bank holiday and a gorgeous day, so Stockholmers were out in the thousands, all vying for the perfect selfie shot with the blossoms in the background. If you are in Stockholm during the next few weeks, head down to the square, located in the downtown area, to have a stroll under the pink blossoms.
To get there from the Hotel Rival, you can either take a 30 minute leisurely stroll through Gamla Stan (the old town), a 15 minute bus ride or take the subway. For the subway, you can just take it three stations to T-centralen, exit to Sergels torg, and walk two blocks or switch from the red line to blue line at T-Centralen and continue one station to Kungsträdgården. Of special note, this subway station is one of Stockholm's most beautiful and worth a visit on its own.

April 18, 2019

Easter in Stockholm 2019

Easter Lunch!
Photo by Marie Andersson/Skansen
Easter is upon us, a bit later in the calendar this year. If you are visiting Stockholm this weekend, it is good to know how we celebrate the holiday. To start off with... the Swedish word for Easter is Påsk (good to know when visiting the city on Easter weekend). While Sweden is one of the least religious countries in the world, it has loads of bank holidays that are religious in origin. On Easter weekend (April 19th to 22nd this year) we have two bank holidays, besides the obvious Easter Sunday, or Påskdagen: Good Friday (Långfredag) and Easter Monday (Annandag Påsk). Even Thursday (Skärtorsdag) is somewhat special as many office workers take a half day off ahead of their 4 day holiday. Once upon a time this meant that the city came to a standstill for 4 days... but these days it isn't that bad. Banks, liquor stores, cafés and smaller shops will be closed or have changed opening hours. Many restaurants, most larger department stores and shopping centers will be open as normal. Though perhaps with shortened opening hours.
The Hotel Rival's BistroBar and Café are all open all weekend long! Our Bistro will be serving our popular brunch on both Saturday and Sunday.
Children dressed up as Easter witches (påskkärringar)
Photo by Marie Andersson/Skansen
As for the museums, the big ones, like VasaFotografiskaABBASkansen, National and Moderna, are open as normal (though keep in mind that Moderna and National are closed on Mondays). The History Museum (Historiska) is closed on both Friday and Saturday, open on Sunday and Monday. Though it is mostly good news for museums... Monday is a day in Sweden when many museums are closed, however some of these museums are staying open on Monday, April 22nd, as it is a holiday. They include the Royal PalaceMedievalMillesgården and Natural History.  Keep in mind that I haven't checked ALL the museums in Stockholm... just the top 20 or so of the 85 museums in the city. Talk to me directly, if you are staying at the Hotel Rival, or check the individual websites if you are interested in other, smaller museums. Sightseeing tours operate as normal!

Scene from Skansen. Photo by me!

If you want to experience Swedish Easter traditions then you should definitely visit Skansen (open-air museum, park and zoo). Don't be surprised if you see little children dressed up as cute witches (påskkärringar)! Here you can learn about, watch, listen to or partake in traditional Easter activities. These are all of special interest if you have children with you. They also have an Easter Market, open (11am to 4pm) from Thursday to Monday, where you can purchase traditional Easter handicraft, decorations, toys and food. For a full calendar of activities at Skansen... click here. I did mention that Sweden isn't a very religious country, but that doesn't mean that it is devoid of religion! There are, of course, many churches (mainly Lutheran and Catholic) that have special Easter services and masses. Contact me directly, if you are staying at the Hotel Rival, for service/mass times at different churches. Several churches offer services in languages other than Swedish. Click here for more Easter tips from Visit Stockholm.
Glad Påsk (Happy Easter)!

April 16, 2019

Swedish Interior Design at Svenskt Tenn

One of my very first blog posts back in 2010 (I can't believe I have been writing this blog for 9 years now!) was about the Swedish interior design store Svenskt Tenn. As I stopped by the store the other day to pick up some Easter decorations, I got inspired to write an updated article.
Scandinavian design is world famous and I often get asked by hotel guests about the best Swedish/Scandinavian interior design stores in Stockholm. I would say the top of the list would surely be Svenskt Tenn. It is definitely the most well-known. Ironically, the designs at Svenskt Tenn don't follow the stereotypical Swedish design aesthetics (muted colors and minimalistic style). Instead you will often find many bold and beautiful patterns & colors at Svenskt Tenn.
Svenskt Tenn was founded way back in 1924 and success came quickly. Within just a few years, they were awarded a royal warrant and had their designs shown at a world fair in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Svenkst Tenn has been located at the same address on the beautiful Strandvägen boulevard since 1927. The store entered a new chapter in the 1930's when they started collaborating with the architect and designer Josef Frank. To this day, his beautiful textile designs are one of the staple products at Svenskt Tenn.
You can find just about anything you need for your home at Svenskt Tenn... from furniture to wallpaper to cutlery to lamps. They have even expanded into fashion design and have bags, jewelry and scarves. While this is definitely a store on the higher end of the price scale, it is still affordable. It is also a great store to just browse in and get inspired. If the shopping or browsing gets you hungry, they have a tea room on the second floor where they serve lunch and afternoon tea daily.
In 1975, the owner, Estrid Ericson, sold the company to the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation. The foundation still runs Svenskt Tenn today and any surplus generated by the company is used to support Swedish scientific research, providing research grants in the fields of ecology, medicine and the preservation of Swedish interior design traditions. Hopefully, this will make any shopping splurges at the store feel more justified when the credit card bill arrives. The easiest way to get to Svenskt Tenn from the Hotel Rival is by subway... just four stops away on the red line (Östermalmstorg station). Otherwise, it is about a 6-7 minute taxi ride.

April 12, 2019

New Exhibition at ABBA the Museum!

Did you know that there is a museum in Stockholm dedicated to the Swedish pop music legends ABBA? Of course there is! Not only were they extremely successful together as a band, creating some of the most popular and loved pop songs on the planet, they also have had solo careers, produced plays, musicals, movies and more. And, no visit to Stockholm is really complete without a visit to ABBA the Museum. Their tagline is "walk in, dance out" and it is pretty fitting! The museum is lots of fun and very interactive... giving you the opportunity to record songs, make videos and try your hand at creating music. All which you get to keep through your entrance ticket (number on the ticket lets you download items from the website).
I was invited earlier this week to see their new temporary exhibition that just opened: Mamma Mia! Behind the Movie Magic. This is an exhibition looking behind the scenes at the making of the movies Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Lily James, Amanda Seyfried and many more. In case you happened to have missed these movies, they are musicals, set on a Greek island, with the songs of ABBA as the soundtrack. The exhibition is located in a room you pass through on your way to the main museum. A nice amuse-bouche to get you in the proper ABBA mood.
Fun movies make for a fun exhibition. I would say that the main focus (at least where your eyes are immediately drawn to) is the outfits/costumes worn by the actors. Most are easily recognizable if you have seen the movies... like Streep's dungarees and the flashy, disco outfits worn by the cast in the last scenes of the movies. But along the walls of the room you will find much more... like props from the movies, the jeep, momentos and clips from interviews and the movies themselves.
I am unsure how long they will be having this temporary exhibition, but at least through the summer I imagine. The museum is located on the island of Djurgården, near other main Stockholm attractions like the Vasa Museum, Skansen and Gröna Lund. I always tell our guests that even if they have no interest in music, ABBA or the museum, they should still stop by the museum's fantastic gift shop if they are in the neighborhood... here you can find some really fun and unique Stockholm souvenirs. The easiest way to get to the museum from the Hotel Rival is by catching the Djurgård Ferry from nearby Gamla Stan. The ferry departs generally every 15 minutes and it takes just 10 minutes to cross the harbor.
the museum is popular and, especially during the summer high season, there can be lines at the entrance to the museum. You can pre purchase the entrance tickets on their website or, if you are staying at Hotel Rival, you can purchase them from my colleagues or myself. This way you can skip the longer line (to buy tickets) at the museum.

April 6, 2019

Calender of Festivals and Events 2019

Stockholm Views, photo by Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com
Here comes a calendar with the major festivals and events for 2019. Hopefully this will help you in planning when you want to visit or, if you have already booked your trip, what to do during your visit. In the list are the main events and festivals. There are of course a myriad of smaller sporting events, concerts and other happenings that aren't listed. If you are staying at the Hotel Rival, contact me directly and I can let you know what else is happening during your stay. Keep in mind that even though a certain event is going on during your stay which you are not interested in... it may affect your stay nonetheless. For example, a large sporting event (i.e. marathon) will mean road closures and traffic problems, a popular concert or convention will mean fully booked hotels & restaurants and a bank holiday will mean banks, liquor stores and certain shops will be closed.
Misty Morning, photo by Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com
It is still early in the year and I will be adding events as they are announced, so make sure to check back now and again ahead of your visit. Some of the links might not work yet for later events (or they direct to last year's information), just keep checking back to see when they update their websites. I have put in some of the larger fairs, but there are a plethora of them going on, covering all sorts of interests from gardening to design to boating. Check the Stockholm Fairground's website to see if anything piques your interest. The amusement park Gröna Lund has a series of concerts all summer with some great artists, like Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Smashing Pumpkins and Hozier. Click here ofr the full list.


Walpurgis Night
Photo: Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com




This is always a slow month with events and festivals as it is when most Stockholmers have their summer vacation and tend to leave the city. But there will be concerts/entertainment at Gröna Lund and Skansen.





December (a month filled with Xmas themed events and happenings, more info when the season approaches)

April 2, 2019

Spring Art Exhibitions 2019

"Truth is Dead" at Fotografiska
I suppose that spring started a few weeks ago, but here we go! If you are coming here in the coming weeks, perhaps for the Easter holidays or just a weekend get-a-away, Stockholm has a wide variety of musuems to choose from if you are feeling culturally inclined! If history is your thing, we have many museums and attractions that concentrate on history and our royal family. More interested in art and design? Here are the main art museums and their exhibitions this coming season:

There are several other smaller art museums. If you are staying at the Hotel Rival, stop by to talk to me directly for more information. Traveling with small children? Art museums might not be their favorite activity; Stockholm thankfully has many child-friendly attractions as well. And don't forget a visit to ABBA the Museum to learn all about Sweden's #1 pop export!