Home Culture What's on: Stockholm

For those of you in the mood to go out and about this weekend to sample the best of Swedish Easter – here’s a selection of what’s on in the next few days!

 

Easter Market

There is no place where you can experience Swedish traditions to beat open air museum Skansen. This weekend you can enjoy the beautiful weather at the Easter Market – learn more about Sweden and about what makes Easter so special here.
 

Hunting for Eggs

For those in the mood for a good old fashioned Egg hunt – there are several to choose from. For a royal setting, head over to the Royal Palace  for their Golden Egg Hunt, for the more arty approach, choose Millesgården and for the budding scientists – there is the Nobel Museum.
 

Enjoying the weather

Although today is a bit glum, the forecast for this weekend is absolutely gorgeous – so take the opportunity to get out and about on town on foot or on your bikes. For a detailed guide about the best walks in Stockholm, check out this site – or if you want to explore for yourself, check out our guide to Stockholm neighbourhoods.
 

Easter Fare

Most expats say that Swedish Easter food is more or less he same as Swedish Christmas food or any other Smörgåsbord, but this isn’t strictly the case. To sample some  Traditional Easter Fare why not check out restaurant Fåfängan, which is promising a traditional Easter Buffet in the evening and brunch during the day this weekend. Other places we like that offer an Easter menu include Långholmens Wärdshus and Långbro Wärdshus. 

 

Whatever you choose to do – have a lovely weekend and a very HAPPY EASTER!

 

Featured Image: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se

For some festive high culture in the run up to Easter, Folkoperan, the People’s Opera, has put on a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, making for both an intriguing and extremely Swedish night out, according to YLC’s Danny Chapman.

 
I am coming to the conclusion that there aren’t a lot of laughs in Swedish high art. Just think of the behemoths of Bergman and Strindberg. So if ALL you want is some fun, the Peoples Opera’s (Folkoperan) current concert won’t be for you. But if you fancy something different, yet very Swedish and with some excellent music, then book the remaining tickets now.

I say “concert” but to be honest I am not entirely sure how to categorise what I saw last night. And as I tend to find getting such basic information from Swedish websites is not usually forthcoming, I was not surprised this morning to see the Folk Opera website calling their St Matthew Passion a “performance concept.” Which doesn’t help clarify things.

It is mostly a concert though. In fact Bach’s St Matthew Passion is an oratorio, which means a large musical composition for orchestra choir and soloists. But interspersed throughout the performance , are interviews with some of the performers about aspects of their lives, projected on a huge screen. And there are also various other theatrical techniques being employed such as the live writing of letters, also projected on the giant screen. The performance is very experimental, to put it mildly.

Some of this works some of it doesn’t, often at the same time. Perhaps one of the most striking aspects is the dress of the performers. There must have been some 30+ singers on stage, mostly young, stood on three or four tiers, and seemingly dressed however they wanted to be.

There were primary colours galore with red and green t-shirts, sweaters, tie-tied loose trousers, highly patterned dresses and jeans. With a predominantly brightly lit stage this made for a very colourful scene. It also felt modern. Or did it feel like it was trying too hard to be modern?

passion1Because I also had the distinct feeling I had been transported back to a BBC studio in the 1970s and was watching some worthy attempt to make the classics relevant. And this seems very Swedish to me. The desire to make everything relevant, rather than just enjoy something for its inherent beauty. Indeed, Folkoperan say on their website that they “are driven by a desire to renew the art of opera and reflect our times by being open to different expressions…”

Located on Hornsgatan on Södermalm, Folkoperan was founded in the 1970s and has garnered much respect and popularity in part on account of its intimate stage and unconventional productions. They say on their website that their vision is “Opera for all” (the ticket prices don’t exactly reflect this though are still much cheaper than most opera houses) and they sing in Swedish to come closer to their audience.

Bach’s St Matthew Passion was originally sung in German, and as most opera is in German or Italian, the language shouldn’t be too much of a problem to non-Swedish speakers. In fact the text being sung at any given time is projected on the big screen, which stretches the entire width of the stage above the performers. So if you speak a little Swedish you should easily be able to understand the texts.

Indeed Bach’s St Matthew Passion is actually Chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of St Matthew set to music. This gospel is the first book of the new testament and these chapters are about the last days of Jesus’s life including the passion of Christ and his death. Written in 1727, and meant to be performed on Good Friday, Bach’s oratorio is widely considered as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music.

And Bach’s St Matthew Passion is particularly appropriate for Sweden because of its extensive use of chorales (hymns traditionally sung by large congregations). The Swedes love their choirs. And this of course is the highlight of the evening.

The other main aspect of the performance was the airing of interviews with half a dozen of the performers, in which they talk about personal tales connected with forgiveness, guilt, pain, fear, loneliness, love, and joy. The Swedes do like to beat themselves up.

Now my Swedish isn’t really up to understanding these monologues. Which didn’t help. But I got the gist. And I am afraid I found them to be increasingly long, serious, done in a pretty amateurish daytime TV kind of way, and by the last couple, frankly boring. I was told though by Swedes in my party that some of this was very moving.

mattpass

Fortunately the early baroque music and the vast number of singers, consisting of an opera troupe and church choir, made up the bulk of the evening’s “performance,” providing a wonderful evening of music.

And despite my criticisms of the other aspects of the evening, these still made for a fascinating night, and gave me some more insights into the country I now live in. Not a lot of laughs perhaps, but experimental, full of Bergmanesque introspective concerns about guilt and pain, snappily dressed and full of joyous song. What better way to mark Easter in Stockholm!

The Peoples Opera’s St Matthew Passion remaining performances are on  17th, 18th,19th and 20 April. Visit the website for tickets.

 

Featured Image: Frida Marklund. Additional Images: Markus Gårder.

If your idea of roller derby is women skating around in circles and beating each other up, you are in need of an update! In fact – it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, not to mention in Sweden.

Modern-day roller derby has grown and developed dramatically since its revival in the early 2000s into a genuine athletic sport with well-defined rules. The classic roller derby was invented in the 1930s and it was played as a legitimate sport, but by the 1960s theatricality and spectacle had taken over and scripted bouts with predetermined outcomes were common, much like in pro wrestling. This development led to the demise of the sport in early 1970s. It wasn’t until the grassroots revival of the sport in the early years of the 2000s that the current form really started making a mark. Some aspects of the entertainment value were retained, including the colourful uniforms and the campy player pseudonyms, but the athletic qualities of a full-on contact sport took over.

Roller derby is growing internationally and dominated by all-female amateur teams, with a very strong DIY ethic and often a feminist aesthetic.

The sport is organized under the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and the first Roller Derby World Cup was arranged in 2011 in Canada with 13 countries competing, including Sweden who finished in sixth place. The second World Cup will be held in December this year, with an expected 30 countries participating.

Stockholm Roller Derby (STRD) is the oldest roller derby league in Scandinavia, founded in 2007. While the early years were a struggle in terms of slow recruitment and lack of practice venues, the 2009 movie Whip it! brought on a wave of interest and by 2010 they played their first bout against Helsinki. In 2011, STRD became apprentice members of the WFTDA, gaining full membership in December 2012. The Stockholm league boasts many members of Team Sweden and they are also the reigning Swedish champions.

700-Swede_Hurt_heart_in_bout_vs_Gent

YLC had the opportunity to attend Stockholm Roller Derby’s practice (scrimmage) on a late Sunday evening in Farsta. The roller girls who turned up for practice were from all of STRD’s three teams, the Allstars, the BSTRDs and the latest addition Gonna-Bes. They all really played impressively hard considering it was practice against their own team mates.

The A-team seemed to be in especially good form, including skaters with names like Swede Hurt, Mad Malooney, Lil Slinky, Red E Krueger and Mount NeveRest.

Scrimmage means practicing in the same format as matches are played. Two teams of five members skate counterclockwise on a circuit track. Each team designates a scoring player, the “jammer”, while the other four members are “blockers”. The “bout” consists of “jams”, plays that last up to two minutes. During a jam, points are scored when a jammer laps members of the opposing team. Blockers use body contact, changing positions and tactics to assist their own jammer to score while hindering the opposing team’s jammer.

The Stockholm league also has international members, including Evil Liza who had just moved from Canada two weeks prior to the practice and was already training with the team. She has played roller derby for three years and told YLC she felt her old team had become like a family to her. She said she was missing them, but hoping to gain a new family in Stockholm through the sport. There really seems to be a strong sense of community among the derby girls and a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.

700-Scrimmage-EvilLiza00

When we met up, the Stockholm team were preparing for a historical bout against an American team, the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls from Denver, held on the 19th of April.

“I went to a conference in the US with lots of people from different WFTDA leagues and heard from a Rocky Mountain player they would be playing London and were looking to combine that with something else. So I basically suggested they come over to Stockholm as well” STRD star player Swede Hurt told YLC.

Stockholm Roller Derby is providing Rocky Mountain with a venue to hold a Boot Camp for roller derby players, referees and officials. In exchange they get the chance to play a bout against one of the top teams in the world.

“It’s going to be a great match! It just really hit me that this is the first time an American team is playing in Sweden. That’s kind of a big deal!”

Rocky Mountain is currently ranked number 9 in the world, while STRD is at 123 in the WFTDA ranking. Despite this the STRD are one of the top teams in Europe and the European teams are most likely under-ranked in the official ranking, since they have not played against American teams so much as of yet.

“In early May we are also going to Florida for a tournament, where we will meet several very good teams ranked around positions 20 to 30. It feels like we may be in way over our heads, but it’s going to be a great experience,” said Swede Hurt.

She hopes that playing these international matches will give the team and the sport a higher status at home and help them with their every-day problem of getting training times. Currently the team has to train at different locations around Stockholm and at less-than-ideal times.

“Like this is exactly what I would like to be doing at 10pm on a Sunday night”, she says with a wink after practice.

Don’t miss out on your chance to see world-class sports entertainment and experience the coolest sport around for yourself. It will be well worth your while getting to the Visättra sports hall in Huddinge on the 19th of April at 17:30 to witness Stockholm Roller Derby taking on Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

More details about the event can be found here!

Hat Exhibition, Halwyl House

As always there are heaps of fun things to do in Stockers this coming weekend. To help you out (we’re nice this way) YLC has found some gems. You’re welcome.

For filmbuffs and other culture fiends – the  Russian Film festival KinoRurik kicks off Friday the 4th with  Poisons, or the World History of Poisoning (subtitles in English).

For those that appreciate a good beat flavoured poetry reading – why not drop in at Izzy Young’s Folklore Centrum for On the Road Again on Saturday (5th) in the afternoon? A nice eclectic crowd is a given at Izzy’s place and you might even get to hear the lyrics to one of the songs that Bob Dylan wrote especially for him…

If any of this just simply isn’t risqué enough for your sophisticated tastes why not dig out your glad rags and dark pearls and swing by Burlesque Night at Melt Bar on Saturday night?

And for the kiddywinks, you ask?

Of course, there is the pillow fighting on Saturday – you shouldn’t miss that! Fun for all the family – just bring enough pillows!

And why not take them to Zebradans new dance show Lövkoja this weekend, or perhaps to see the hat exhibition and the hat workshop at Halwyl house on Saturday? On Sunday, the whole family would enjoy a trip to Tolv Stockholm to enjoy their child friendly brunch.  

So there you have it – go forth and enjoy! We know WE will!

For more ideas on what to do in April, check out our guide to what not to miss in Stockholm this month! 

Featured Image: Erik Lernestål

 

Spring has arrived in Stockholm, which means the city is bustling with life – and events. But no need to feel overwhelmed, YLC narrowed it down to the best of the best…and there are pillows involved. Don’t miss these unique April events!

 

 Stockholm Photography Week

Stockholm Photography is already in full swing, but runs through April 6th, so don’t miss out! Events are held at Fotografiska, which is worth a few hours of leisure all in its own. But this week there are also workshops, seminars, artist talks, and a PhotoMarket. There’s something for the pro, the dabbler, and the gallery aficionado.

When: Monday, March 31st through Saturday, April 6th
Where: Fotografiska, Stora Tullhuset, Stadsgårdshamnen 22, Stockholm
Damage: Depends on event. See website for more info.

 

International Pillow Fight Day

Yes, it’s an actual thing. International Pillow Fight Day is April 6th which can only mean one thing: grab your pillow and head downtown! The first puffy pillow blows will be struck at 13:00 on the dot. It’s a flashmob, so just remember not to reveal your pillow until it’s time. (Before that, we’re guessing there will be an awful lot of “pregnant” people at Sergels torg.)

When: Saturday, April 5th, 13:00
Wh
ere: Sergels torg, Stockholm
Damage: Free! Just bring a pillow!

 

The Vintage Fair

This is the annual vintage-lovers’ event, held of course at hip Hornstull on Södermalm. More than 40 shops and vintage sellers from across Sweden will be present, selling clothing, shoes, and accessories from 1920 to 1990. Whether you’re pin-up or boho, girl-glam or grunge, the Vintage Fair promises something unique and fun.

When: Sunday, April 6th, 11:00 – 18:00
Wh
ere: Debaser Strand, Hornstulls Strand 4, Stockholm
Damage: 60 SEK Entrance fee

 

Ammotrack and the Deadly Seams Fashion Show

Whether or not hard rock is your style, this unique event sounds like a blast. Melodifestivalen contender Ammotrack will be on stage along with support band Crunge, but that’s not all. It’s also a fashion show – specifically for “rock clothing”. Take a stroll on Göta Källare’s Black Carpet and show off your head-banging!

When: Wednesday, April 16th, 19:00
Wh
ere: Göta Källare, Folkungagatan 45, entrance in the Medborgarplatsen T-bana station
Damage: 100 SEK

Belly dance Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights Gala Show

When was the last time you danced like an Egyptian? Not sure what that even means? End an April day with an Arabian Night right before Easter for a taste of something a little bit different. See dance performances from Egypt, Iran, Turkey and more on a musical journey of 1001 nights!

When: Saturday, April 19th, 19:00 – 21:30
Where: Nalen, Regeringsgatan 74, Stockholm
Damage: 250 SEK, tickets here

 

Rotary Culture Walk

The Stockholm Rotary Club has organized a weekend walk brimming with art and culture, where the proceeds go to childcare and orphanages in Mali and Burma. Tickets are 109 SEK, and grant you free entrance (for the weekend) to a whole slew of fantastic places including (but not limited to) Liljevalchs Konsthall, Junibacken, the Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Spirits (alcohol, that is). You also get 30% off lunch at Djurgårdsbrons Sjöcafe.

When: Saturday, April 26th and Sunday, April 27th, during museum opening hours. Lecture at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde at 13:00 and at Liljevalchs Konsthall 15:00. Note that some museums offer free entrance Saturday only. 
Where:
 Djurgården, Stockholm. Recommended start at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde.
Damage: 
109 SEK per person, reserve tickets here.

 

Images: Shimelle Laine/J Victor/Flickr

After recent Swedish media reports have outed Swedes as hug-aholics, a small group of Stockholmers have decided to build on this – for a more friendly future.

 
“It is ridiculous to think that we will hug just about any Sven, Nils and Leffe but we don’t know who our next door neighbour is,” Hug-Thy-Neighbour Campaign organizer Svea Svenzon tells YLC over coffee and some piping hot cinnamon buns.

Having met at a carpet-weaving seminar on Söder two years ago, the group (which specializes in traditional hand-woven carpets, wheat grass dye and guerilla monopoly) finally think the time is right to launch the project that they have been spinning together along with the yarn.

To encourage more neighbourly affection, this small group of embrace-enthusiasts are aiming to create a platform for the Swedish people to engage with each other; to reach out and hug their fellow man.

“We received the good news this weekend – that someone finally zoned in on the inherent wish to hug that lies dormant within every Swede – and we decided to go for it! We’re not expecting a miracle – all we hope to achieve is for as many as possible to reach out to their neighbour – and give them a good squeeze – if only for this one day a year.”

According to Svenzon, there are no limits to how many neighbours one potentially COULD hug in a day. And neighbour can be interpreted in so many ways, according to the group.

“When we started this we thought mainly about people living in the same building or on the same street – but to be honest, ANYONE could be your neighbour; someone sitting next to you on the metro, your kids’ teachers, your boss – the sky is the limit,” said Per Persson, the group’s social media guru, responsible for public relations and yarn acquisition.

He proposes that successful neighbour-hugs be perpetuated in selfies, which he predicts will spread like wildfire and revolutionize the way we think – and feel – about Sweden today. The hashtag #wheatgrassandlove is proposed, but the jury is still out on that one.

However, the group is working on an idea to incorporate the images and the wheat grass dyed carpets in an exhibition over the summer, with the working title Sweden Loves to Squeeze (pun regarding wheatgrass intended).

When asked if this scheme was just for hug-friendly Swedes or if anyone could join in, Svenzon and Persson enthusiastically encouraged everyone – even hug-shy expats – to take part in their canoodling crusade.

“We have space for everyone in our arms,” they beamed.
 
 

So there you have it, YLC peeps, let April 1st forever be known as the Hug-Thy-Neighbour Day in Stockholm. Hang on, isn’t that date taken…

 

Featured Image: Jouris Louwes/Flickr

Spotify is all grand and mp3s on your iPhone are essential for a morning jog, it’s true. But nothing can beat being there and hearing it all live! And guess what? Stockholm is the place to get your live music fix – completely free of charge.

Debaser

We’ll start off with the tried-and-true. Any music fan in Stockholm knows Debaser. Both Debaser Medis at Medborgarplatsen and Debaser Strand at Hornstulls Strand offer some of the best and most interesting live acts in town. A large part of their gigs have free entrance if you come early (before 9 or 10 pm). This obviously doesn’t include international acts or the biggest Swedish names, but lots of great artists are on offer every week and you may discover a new gem! Check the latest listings here.

Lilla Hotellbaren – Scandic Malmen

The hotel bar at this Scandic Hotel situated on Medborgarplatsen offers live music, clubs and DJs several days a week, and the entrance is always free. But it’s a hot one, so expect a crowd! More information on what is on and when can be found here.

You may also like to keep an eye on what Scandic Grand Central has to offer, since they also have live music at their Grand Acoustic Bar as well as other clubs and showcases.

Pet Sounds Bar

The Pet Sounds record store on Södermalm’s Skånegatan has a reputation as one of the best record stores in the world, and their bar on the opposite side of the street offers live music, clubs, DJs and Open Mic nights in their murky cellar.

It’s an international hotspot and you’ll hear accents – and music – from across the globe.

The record store itself also sometimes hosts artist showcases, definitely not to be missed. Latest events can be found here.

Akkurat

Akkurat is a bar on Hornsgatan that offers free live music on Sunday evenings. The emphasis is on bands playing rhythm’n’blues, rockabilly, country, and similar genres with loads of raw live energy. Memorable personal highlights in the past have included Jasmine Kara and Cookies’n’Beans. Check out their listings here, or if you like your rock a bit harder and heavier, try Pub Anchor instead.

Obaren 

Obaren is like a secret little backroom of the Sturehof restaurant at Stureplan, with a totally different vibe and audience. This place offers intimate concerts and DJ sets and quite often also records company showcases. Even the likes of Chris Cornell, Juanes and Glasvegas have played on the tiny stage. So keep your eye out on their Facebook page so you don’t miss the next secret show!

Linda Sundblad by Nina Uddin

Linda Sundblad at Obaren.

100 Live

100 Songs is a record company with a fresh approach to music releases: they concentrate on releasing singles from mostly up’n’coming artists in digital format. They started out a year ago with Miriam Bryant, who went on to become one of the brightest breakthrough artists of 2013 in Sweden and is now gaining international fans.

To complement the 100 Songs releases, they also have monthly live artist showcases under the name of 100 Live. These are usually held at Södra Teatern’s Etablissemanget and truly give you the chance to see fresh new talent. Artists seen on stage have included Ace Wilder and Manda, who were both seen Melodifestivalen 2014. Follow 100 Songs on Facebook to get event information about 100 Live.

 WiMP Sessions – Story Hotel

WiMP is a music streaming service much like Spotify. They arrange their own live sessions with fresh new artists at Story Hotel’s bar. These sessions are also recorded and offered on their streaming service. The sessions usually offer one or two artists playing a few songs each. Highlights so far have included Miriam Bryant, Linda Sundblad and Nicole Sabouné. Events are listed here.

Musikplats Stockholm – P4 Stockholm

This is such a gem of a place that I feel slightly worried about giving this tip away, since it is always first come, first served for these gigs. This is simply public service radio at its best – P4 Stockholm broadcasts live concerts on Fridays at lunch time (12:30 to be more precise) and there is place for an audience of around 150 people in Studio 4 of the Radio House (where Jimi Hendrix and many other legends have played). The intimate concerts here only last half an hour, but the audience may be treated to an exclusive encore after the broadcast is over.

And as a rule the artists hang around afterwards for autographs or exchanging a few words with the fans. The artists featured have ranged from Laleh and First Aid Kit to Jill Johnson and Darin.

The bigger the name the earlier you need to come, as the lines start forming one or even two hours before with the most popular artists. Check the concert calendar often, since the bookings are often made relatively late to keep the  musical offerings up to date.

Images: Nina Uddin

What happens when the weather throws a tantrum and ruins your picnic plans? Through gritted teeth and mumbled expletives, do you get online and Google “What to do when the weather is crap in Stockholm?” I sure do!

 
Being a class-A nerd, the Museum of Ethnography was the perfect solution for me. Located at the southern end of Ladugårdsgärdet, there’s a replica Haisla Nation totem pole by the door. The original – “acquired” in 1929 by Swedish explorers – was returned after much negotiating in 2007. The Haisla donated a replica for their…trouble.

This sets the tone as the museum delves into the pros and cons of historical anthropology (such as why you should not let grave diggers steal freshly deceased aboriginal bodies from Australia and ship them to Sweden and other stories of explorers behaving badly).

Cramming in 440,000 artefacts – donated, acquired and, as the captions remind us, pillaged from the days of colonialist expansion – the museum appeals to the inner Indiana Jones (or Lara Croft) in us all. Or is that just me?

The permanent exhibit on the first floor, With the World in a Backpack, showcases early Swedish explorations. A small shrine to Linnaeus displays the curiosities he classified such as a baby rhinoceros skin (even creepier than it sounds) and a horned dinosaur skull. There’s a section about a bunch of missionaries in The Congo in the 1920s.

It’s all fine and dandy until you reach the photographs of Congolese with both hands chopped off. And the whips used by plantation owners to flagellate their workers. That’s when you feel your lunch coming up for round two. I backed away in search for the Sven Hedin section. On a trip to China I gazed into the face of a mummy with the caption “Discovered by Sven Hedin, Swedish explorer.”

Who, you ask?

Turns out the man basically “discovered” Central Asia, unearthed ancient cities and was fluent in Chinese, Tibetan and several Persian dialects. (Feeling like an underachiever yet?) The museum is the headquarters of the Sven Hedin Foundation, and I hoped to see a mummy or two. But apart from a few personal artefacts, Buddhist statues, Hedin’s illustrations and some photographs, there wasn’t much to see. His adoration for Hitler and other questionable historical “heroes” probably hasn’t garnered him many adoring fans in Sweden, hence – not famous.

The Storage section, Magasinet, was my favourite, flaunting all rules of museum etiquette where objects are grouped together in beautifully planned chaos. Balinese festival gear shares space with lethal weapons and royal thrones.

You can even pull open drawers and find embroidered caps, hunting arrows and Chinese miniatures depicting ancient torture techniques.

There are no captions or labels (which is either genius or frustrating as hell) but you can listen to an audio guide or borrow a tablet to find out more at your leisure (oh so Swedishly diplomatic).

There’s a second floor with permanent exhibits from the Arctic, South America, Japan and America and their special exhibitions change regularly. While it may be small, one must admit this museum packs a punch. It will swallow up a good chunk of time and energy, so get there early and get a snack between exhibits!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Pros:
Plenty of comfy seats
Short films for those too lazy to walk
Regular workshops

Cons:
No signage – its nice to know what’s located where since it sucks when you find a whole entire floor with only one hour left
No English – pick up a disorganized English guide to know what you’re looking at

Must See:
Waterproof parka made from seal intestines
Human femur flute

How to get there:
Catch bus 69 to Museiparken.

Damage:
80 SEK (no student discounts)
Free up to 19 years

Images: Wikipedia

Last night, a contingent from Your Living City attended the premiere of new comedy series Welcome to Sweden, which is, rather appropriately for all of us, about the experience of a foreigner moving to Sweden.

 
Hosted jointly by the American Club of Sweden and the American Women’s Club of Sweden, the party kicked off with welcome drinks at fancy Stureplan bar Miss Voon, where we spotted everyone from The Local’s David Landes to British ambassador Paul Johnston and of course the man of the hour Greg Poehler, looking dashing in a tux.

After a little catch up and people watching session (and by sheer coincidence, around the time the free wine dried up), we decided to head down to nearby Park cinema for the main event. For reasons that escape me now (and may or may not have been influenced by the aforementioned free wine), we decided to dash the block or so minus our coats… to be met by a giant queue and a long, chilly wait. We had perhaps not thought that one through.

Luckily we had just about defrosted (some popcorn helped) by the time Christal Jemdahl of the American Women’s Club welcomed us all to the event. Poehler then took to the stage with some stand up comedy about being an American in Sweden (“another school shooting, Greg, really?”) which was greeted with roars of laughter and recognition from the audience.

I especially liked the bit about people expecting him to take personal pride in Princess Madeleine’s marriage to an American (who turns out to really be British; for the record, as a Brit I don’t give a monkey’s either) and about attempting to coach a kids’ basketball team with limited Swedish (“Er…Bounca! … Passa! … Defend..a?”)

Then it was time for the show itself. Greg plays a New York accountant, Bruce, who falls in love with Swedish Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) and moves to Sweden to be with her. In the first episode he lands at Arlanda to discover that her city apartment is being renovated and they will be staying with her parents in the obligatory red clapboard Archipelago stuga.

I have to confess that the clip that’s been released online so far (in which he tells Emma’s parents that he plans to take a year to spend time with their daughter and find himself) didn’t really inspire me, but I’m pleased to be able to report that the rest of the show was therefore a pleasant surprise.

There were some real laughs (I loved Emma’s mother (Lena Olin)’s horror at how short Bruce is – she even moves some plates in the kitchen to a lower shelf so that he can reach them).

There were some stereotypes of course: could any expat in Sweden not have predicted the scene in which the bathing-suited American saunas uncomfortably with a bunch of Swedes, ahem, hanging loose? But on the other hand… can any expat in Sweden honestly say they haven’t experienced that?

Welcome to Sweden. 2014.

I thought it could have had a stronger episode story (he pretty much arrives in Sweden and a bunch of funny things happen), but that is often the inevitable weakness of a pilot episode, so I’ll reserve judgement for another episode or two.

In the post screening Q&A afterwards, Poehler talked about how the focus of the story is really the relationship between Bruce and Emma, and the culture clash aspect takes a back seat.

The Q&A then took a somewhat awesomely surreal turn, when a few people pitched their own love refugee experiences as alternative series ideas, Claes Månsson (who plays Emma’s father) seemed to announce that the best thing about the series was the weather they had to shoot in last summer (I’m fairly confident it was a translation issue, but it was hilarious all the same) and Greg was forced to insist that he does in fact have some friends in Sweden.

It was then another frosty sprint back to Miss Voon for after party drinks, where the buzz around the bar was positive. It was generally agreed that expats would find a lot to identify with in the show, and that it will be a relief to be able to say to family and friends:

“Remember that time I tried to describe a kräftskiva and you just looked at me as though I had lost my mind? Well, watch this…”

Welcome to Sweden premieres this Friday at 21:30 on TV4. I recommend checking it out!

 

Images: TV4 and Linus Hallsénius/TV4

St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday, but the festivities begin on Saturday and last all month! Start by parading in style, hear some poetry, do an Irish jig…What’s the craic? You choose!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The annual Stockholm St. Patrick’s Day parade begins this year, like every year, at the Royal Library in Humlegården at 12:00. It’s rated E for everyone – that is, don’t expect just to watch a bunch of floats and dancers go by. Walk in the parade yourself! The parade ends in Gamla Stan with loads of Irish entertainment – dance, music, face painting, and more. And don’t forget to dress up for the parade – best-dressed get prizes. One year it was a flight to Ireland!

When: Saturday, March 15th, 12:00
Where: Kungliga Biblioteket, Humlegården
Cost: Free

Irish America: Past and Present Perspectives

Note that this one is in Uppsala, so it is a bit of a commute. Still, this conference about the impact of the Irish on the US promises to be intellectually stimulating and fun! The conference is followed by an evening of Irish poetry.

When: ThursdayMarch 20th, 10:15 to 18:00 
Where: The Betty Pettersson Hall in Blåsenhus at Uppsala University
Cost: Free, but register your interest by Tuesday, March 18th, by emailing niamh.nishiadhail@engelska.uu.se

Honoring Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet and a Nobel laureate. The Irish Embassy and the Nobel Museum are getting together to celebrate his life and work on March 21, with guest speakers including his friend Paul Muldoon.

When: Friday, March 21, 17:30
Where: Nobelmuseet
Cost: Free

The Cripple of Inishmaan

Did you know Stockholm has an Irish theatre group? It does. And it’s called Spuds and Sill. And as if the name itself wasn’t brilliant enough, they have a fantastic production of an Irish play on March 21 and 22.  The Cripple of Inishmaan is a black comedy by Martin McDonagh, best known as the writer and director of international box office hits In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths .

When: Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22, 19:00, also Saturday matinee 14:00
Where: Bristol Theatre in Sundbyberg
Cost: 150 SEK. Members of the Swedish Irish Society get a discount. Get tickets here.

 

Vernissage: Exhibition of Migration

Irish artist Alannah Robins does her work here in Stockholm, and the Embassy of Ireland will be hosted an exhibit with her art on March 22.

When: Saturday, March 22, opens at 12:00
Where: Detroit Collective Gallery, Roslagsgatan 21
Cost: Free

Tommy Tiernan at RAW Comedy Club

Last but certainly not least, famous Irish stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan is coming to Stockholm! Tiernan will be entertaining at the RAW Comedy club March 28th.

When: Friday, March 28th, 20:00
Where: Hilton Hotel, Slussen, Guldgränd 8
Cost: 345 SEK for the show, 705 SEK for dinner and a show, book here

 

And if organized events aren’t your Irish coffee, why not just head on down to an international pub? Stockholm is an unexpected pot of gold when it comes to Irish pubs. Galway’s and The Liffey are two which are guaranteed to have a blast, with entertainment and drinks all around. Galway’s even has green beer. See the rest of the list here!

Featured Image: Garry Knight/Flickr (file)