Stockholm revels in cultural celebration

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 June, 1998, 12:00am

If you happen to notice a top Swedish Government official reading poetry in the Stockholm subway, fear not for the nation's sanity.

The bureaucratic busking is merely one of a thousand events being staged this year in the biggest cultural festival in Swedish history.

Stockholm is the European City of Culture this year and residents are celebrating like never before.

Events began before the winter snow had melted with the carving of a huge 'ice hotel', the inauguration of Sweden's new Museum of Modern Art, and a new permanent exhibition devoted to Sweden's Viking ancestors at the Museum of National Antiquities.

They continue for the rest of the year with more than 1,500 artists performing in the streets, parks, waterways, museums and 70 theatrical venues.

Visitors are flocking there and hotel occupancies are up nine per cent.

Stockholm has been nominated Europe's top tourist city and the best city in Europe for jogging.

In fact, the Stockholm Marathon, schedule for tomorrow, has been voted the best organised event of its kind around its picturesque 42-kilometre course.

International celebrities are converging on the capital with a Bob Dylan concert scheduled at the Stockholm Globe Arena next week.

Major events enticing tourists for the rest of the year-long festival include: July - Skansen Jazz and Blues Festival, 'Lollipop' Rock and Pop Festival, and the Bellman Festival, in honour of Sweden's national poet.

August - the 10-day Stockholm Water Festival, the biggest party of the year; Peter Brook's new interpretation of Mozart's Don Giovani; Cullberg Ballet's Romeo and Juliet in Vita Bergsparken park; and Tjejmilen, a 10-kilometre race for women with more than 30,000 runners.

September - Stockholm Beer Festival; the Strindberg Festival celebrating Swedish author August Strindberg; Under/Exposed, which will transform the capital's 19 underground stations into gigantic art galleries; Sailboat Day in the waters around Stockholm; and Stockholm Drum Festival (September 29 to October 3).

October - Lidingo Race, the world's largest cross-country event; and a Nordic Museum exhibition celebrating Carl Larsson, Sweden's best-loved artist.

November - Stockholm Film Festival; Stockholm Tennis Open; and International Horse Show.

December - Lucia Day (December 13), a nationwide celebration of light in the middle of Sweden's dark winter; and a huge fireworks finale to Stockholm's cultural year on New Year's Eve.