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.

September 24, 2016

Enjoying the Fall Colors on Djurgården

On one of my parents' last days visiting this past week, I took them on walk around the island of Djurgården... one of our favorite activities. I have blogged about something similar earlier, but I thought I would add a twist. Besides the beautiful walk, one passes quite a few attractions that visitors might think are hard to reach... but really aren't. Both on the bus trip out and walk back. So in this article I will list the attractions one can visit on this route.
There are many ways to get to Djurgården from central Stockholm (like ferry or street car), but what I like to do is take the bus out to the very end of the island (Blockhusudden) and then walk back to the city along the south shore. Another variation is to start on the city side and then make a circular route ending back in the city. But for the first route you need to take bus #69 from Nybroplan all the way out to the last stop. There is a bus #69K as well, but this will only take you about half way (Kaknästornet).
The bus ride takes 25 minutes but along the route you have a whole slew of interesting attractions in case you want to make a cultural pit-stop. Immediately after leaving the Östermalm area and embassy row, you have a collection of museums right next to each other: Sjöhistoriska (naval history), Etnografiska (world culture), Riksidrotts (sports) and Tekniska (technology) and Polis (police). It is good to note that these museums are very child-friendly and the first three listed have free admission.
The next interesting stop along the bus route is Kaknästornet, one of the tallest structures in Sweden. Definitely worth a stop to take the elevator up to the top and enjoy the views. At the top you will find both a café and a restaurant. Earlier blog article. After this the bus route continues over the bridge, passing the restaurant Djurgårdsbrunn, before heading out to the last stop. At the end of the route you also have one of my favorite museums for Scandinavian art: Thielska Galleriet.
We saw three deer on our walk.
From here you can choose several different walking paths back... though, as I mentioned, I like walking along the water. There are many beautiful mansions along the way as well as parkland and wildlife. The walk, at a leisurely pace without major stops, takes about 1½ hours. Towards the end of the walk you come to a high concentration of attractions and you will definitely visit this area during any trip to Stockholm. Attractions include Waldemarsudde, Skansen, Gröna Lund, ABBA the Museum, Nordiska Museet, Vasa Museum plus many more.
The first leaves are starting to change colors.
Besides all of these points of interest, you also have the beautiful nature of Djurgården to enjoy... forest, waterways, open park and wetlands. For more information about Djurgården and its attractions, check out the Visit Djurgården website. Otherwise, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for more information regarding Djurgården, attractions, directions or even other nature walks.
The Nordiska museum.
Garden at Waldemarsudde.
End of the walk... at Strandvägen.

September 17, 2016

Autumn Art Exhibitions

After writing about autumn sightseeing options, I guess I should also write about all the different art museum exhibitions this coming season! Stockholm has a large amount of museums (80+) covering all types of subjects like art, science, history, sports, theatre and culture. This list will cover exhibitions at art museums... click here if you want a list with description over the top history museums in Stockholm.
Nick Cave, London 1996. Copyright Anton Corbijn. Fotografiska.

September 13, 2016

Autumn Sightseeing Options

Stockholm harbour.
Summer is over and that means the high season has also come to an end. I took some visiting family on a Royal Canal Boat tour the other day and thought a blog article about what sightseeing options with the Strömma company are available this time of year would be in order.
Boarding the Royal Canal Tour.
While many sightseeing tours are only available during the high season, you still have many options, though often with fewer departures:


On board the Royal Canal Tour, guided in 11 languages.
These are the main tours available from Strömma, the main sightseeing company operating in Stockholm. Check their website for other options, departure times and upcoming winter tours. There are, of course, several smaller sightseeing companies as well as private sightseeing tours available. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly to find out more about these options.
Views from boat tour...
You never know what you will see.

September 8, 2016

Josef Frank Exhibition at Millesgården

Ok, this report is coming when there are only a few weeks left of the exhibition. Sorry! But I did mention it at the beginning of the summer in my list of summer art exhibitions. At any rate, I am glad that I finally made it out as I really wanted to see Josef Frank: Patterns - Furniture - Painting. The exhibition is running through October 2nd. Even if you visit Stockholm after that, a visit to Millesgården and their beautiful & iconic statuary garden is always recommended!
Josef Frank was an Austrian born architect/artist/designer who emigrated to Sweden in the 1930's to escape the growing anti Jewish sentiment in his country. In Sweden he is most well known for his textiles, design, wallpaper and furniture... especially his successful collaboration with the famous design store Svenskt Tenn (a must visit in itself for anyone with design interests coming to Stockholm) where you can still see and purchase his textiles and furniture. Location of Svenskt Tenn.
The exhibition was great... especially for an admirer of Frank's designs as I am. It was nice to see all of his textiles displayed so beautifully. It was also interesting to see his paintings which I had never seen before. The museum did a good job of charting his career and life.
As I mentioned, Millesgården is well worth a visit whatever is being exhibited in their museum. Millesgården was the home and workplace of world famous Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and his wife Olga (and artist in her own right). Many of his sculptures and statues can be seen around Stockholm as well as in many parts of the world, including the USA. At Millesgården you can visit Milles' home, studio as well as the beautiful garden filled with his statues.
Millesgården is located just outside of central Stockholm on the island of Lidingö. To get there from the Rival Hotel, take the subway (red line) to Ropsten. From there you switch to a tram (Lidingöbanan) and take it one station to Torsvik. From Torsvik it is a ten minute walk to Millesgården. Just follow the signs... but beware it is an uphill walk. There are other options with a bus from Ropsten that takes you closer to the museum. Click here for more information.