During the cherished Swedish tradition of Midsummer’s Eve, the lavender-lit sky above Stockholm never darkens. Festival days following the holiday in the city known as the “Capital of Scandinavia” are filled with elation as Swedes clutch the possibilities of summer, and swim in the lakes and the sea that hold the capital city’s 14 islands — small pearls in the region’s wild and yawning archipelago.
Days are starfish-wide and nights are a mere sliver in Scandinavian summer, but the region’s humid continental climate supplies cool mellow nights apt for extended revelry. And unlike an anxious American FOMO culture that chases the next best thing and wastes precious time barhopping and Uber-ing around town, Stockholmer culture clings to single venues that — much like some of its progressive genderfluid fashions and world-famous furniture designs — morph in gorgeous multi-use form, from café to restaurant to bar to nightclub. In these pliant venues of Stockholm, the fleeting summer evenings are reserved for communal experiences when memories are broadened well beyond daybreak.
If you’re one of the many visitors journeying to Stockholm for EuroPride 2018 (July 27-August 5, with a second half happening in the west Swedish city of Gothenburg, August 14-19) or are simply wayfaring through before or after the celebratory weekend, be sure to stop into one of these effervescent venues for a unique evening in the “Beauty on Water.”
Roosting on the top of Mosebacke (Moses’ Hill) in the bohemian neighborhood of Södermalm, is Södra Teatern (“South Theater,” SodraTeatern.com). The establishment is a massive day and nightlife locale with six stages, a restaurant, and seven bars. It hosts over 500 events and 250,000 visitors a year; some of the most popular events cater specifically to the queer community. Highlights are parties like the popular Moxy — a lively and legendary lesbian bash — as well as the drag queen-led Midsummer Eve maypole decorating party.
Commence the weekend at Mosebacketerrassen, Södra Teatern’s large outdoor concert venue and beer garden that overlooks the Stockholm Inlet. Catch famous Swedish pop stars like Loreen and this year’s EuroPride party, Issa Ball: Let’s Have a Kiki. While the establishment prioritizes Swedish acts, a few international favorites slip in. This year at the venue’s biggest indoor space, Kägelbanan, expect performances by Kacey Musgraves and Grandmaster Flash.
Continue the night with dinner reservations at Mosebacke Etablissement, Södra’s acclaimed restaurant that aligns with Stockholm’s accolades as one of the greenest European cities, in a vegetarian-influenced menu. The truffle macaroni and cheese is expectedly insane. As your late, four-course dinner wanes, watch as tattooed DJs arrive and the restaurant’s tables and chairs are slowly thinned until the venue transforms into a popping nightclub. For better views and more intimate conversation, wander to the top floor to the venue’s gorgeous Champagne Bar.
The renowned (and rather chic) garden, café, bar, restaurant, and nightlife venue Mälarpaviljongen (Malarpaviljongen.se) floats on pontoons and barges in the eastern arm of Mälaran (Lake Malar), near where the massive body of water drains into the chilly Baltic Sea. Long celebrated as one of Stockholm’s most iconic queer venues (open from April to the end of September) with incredible day drag shows and DJ sets, it is the place to be on a sunny summer Sunday. The venue extends a “rainbow-colored welcome” and has made its mission to employ displaced LGBT refugees.
After a morning mosey down the wide pedestrian walkways of Norr Mälarstrand, the street that runs along the lakeshore, explore Mälarpaviljongen’s gardens (and buy an adorable plant or two from the garden and design shop) before joining the festivities and entertainment on the pontoons. After a day of dancing to deep disco grooves your appetite will have built to towering heights.
Follow your nose to the Mälarpaviljongen’s glowing 70-year-old pavilion for an intimate dinner with your closest companions. As the night lingers, warm yourself under the heat lamps and blankets scattered around the main bar and sip craft cocktails or Mälarpaviljongen‘s signature rosé wine label — with all proceeds going to Regnbågsfonden, a local LGBT charity the venue partners with. Buzzed? Let jazz performances and techno-house sets soothe you until closing.
Save big on airfare and arrive at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport by way of Norwegian (Norwegian.com), the award-winning airline that flies from New York City, Los Angeles, London, and many other European cities for unbeatable prices.
Opulent travelers are spoiled at the historic Hotel Skeppsholmen (HotelSkeppsholmen.se) by handsome design and thoughtful service, while those looking for a more simple but cozy middle ground are pleased with the Hotel Hellsten (Hellsten.se). Budget travelers love the hip layout and approachably priced rooms at Hobo (Hobo.se).