Six days, 300,000 visitors, over 500 acts and 250 artists: this is the magnitude and diversity of Stockholm’s sixth annual Culture Festival, which kicks off on Tuesday, August 16th.
The week offers entertainment at its finest in the form of global music styles, stand-up comedy, street art, drama, discussion, dance, and more, including offbeat specials like the world’s longest book table.
The festival is spread over four main venues right in the heart of the city.
At Gustav Adolf’s Torg, visitors can enjoy five nights of international performances, an adventure oasis for kids, as well and musical Mecca for adults.
Other venues include Brunkebergstorg outside the Riksbank, which is just a short walk from lively and central Sergel's Torg, another one of the festival's main sites.
And don't forget the rooftop of Kulturhuset where each evening features a tribute to the best of Norwegian film, literature and debate.
All of this is free except for the City Walks and Stockholm’s Stadsteater theatre performances which require reservation fees.
The Stockholm Culture Festival has a lot on offer, so visitors should feel free to let their cultural compasses wander.
Many of the performances will be held on multiple days throughout the week, so there are plenty of opportunities to see a wide range of events, even if they occur at the same time on some days.
While the full programme can be viewed on the official festival website (see below), here are The Local’s picks of a few standout events.
Start your festival experience off with a humorous bang at noon, at the “beating heart of the festival” Sergel’s Torg, with variety show ‘Kate Wright: Ding dong Meet Yvonne! An Aussie beautician on a mission.’ This cheesy combo of circus and comedy, coupled with some juggling and hula-hooping experimentation, is sure to get you smiling.
At 7.30pm head to musical stage Gustav Adolf’s Torg to check out Motown legends Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, then stick around for Peter Jöback and Cookies’n’beans at 9.45pm. Though you will be offered neither cookies nor beans at the latter, prepare yourself for a generous serving of contemporary Swedish music.
Warm up your evening with live cooking, wine tasting and music - this hour-long sensation of taste takes place at Sergel’s Torg at 5pm every day of the festival.
American jazz singer Elisabeth Kontomanou performs at 6pm at Brunkebergstorg, and Dansens hus celebrates 20 years of dance with a performance at Gustav Adolf’s Torg including the Opera Ballet and Soul Sweat, among others.
Get interactive on Thursday at Sergel’s Torg with “Ljud group: The Invasion.” This variety show with fully pink alien species invites you to play with extraterrestrials and engage in “interplanetary” dialogue – an experience in limbo between reality and fantasy you won’t want to miss.
At 9pm circus duo Jenifur and Beatrix pick a fight with your eating habits using Pilates balls, gaffer tape, bullwhips and more in their display of utter hatred for fat and carbs.
Friday’s highlights hinge on the beat of an exotic drum. African dance and fun at 4pm hosted by Dansmuseet gets children aged 4-10 on their feet, and if you fancy having a go yourself the museum welcomes adults to West African dance at 6pm.
At 7.30pm, Södra Teatern On The Run proudly presents Afro Cubism, a colourful collaboration of musicians from Mali and Cuba, at Gustav Adolf’s Torg.
Take your pick of more vibrant music and dance on Saturday, from the oriental dance party “Re:Orient Halay!” at Brunkebergstorg starting at 6pm, to Gustav Adolf’s Torg’s final evening celebration with The Royal Opera at 8pm.
Throw in dance phenomenon Mechanical Trio & Heroes Part Two choreographed by international successes Yossi Berg and Oded Graf (10.30pm at Sergel’s Torg), and your last night of the festival will be anything but boring.
On Sunday it’s time to wind down and get your fill of assorted literature along the world’s longest book table on Drottninggatan, a popular finish to the week’s festivities.