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Our journey to EuroPride kicked off with an early flight to Stockholm. This beautiful city, built on Lake Mälaren, is comprised of 14 islands accessible by taxi, foot or ferry. It’s classically European with wide clean streets, beautiful architecture and a thriving history.
Travel to the city centre is provided by the Arlanda Express. This train journey, only twenty minutes, puts every UK train company to shame. The train is spacious, clean, modern, comfortable and so smooth that we don’t even realise that we were hurtling across Sweden at 100mph. A single ticket costs SEK 280, returns SEK 540.
arlandaexpress.com / @arlandaexpress
Our first visit was to the Hotel Diplomat. Stylish and elegant, the Diplomat is a luxury hotel located by the waterfront in the heart of this vibrant city. This unique Art Nouveau palace has stunning views of Nybroviken and blends historical architecture with modern luxury in the most beautiful surroundings. For a budget friendly approach take a walk around the lobby and peruse the offerings in their boutique delicatessen.
Strandvägen 7C, 114 56 Stockholm, Sweden
diplomathotel.com / @hoteldiplomatsthlm
Our official EuroPride celebration started at HOPE. The ethos of this clothing brand is gender neutral and it’s the first brand we’ve seen that truly does that. All items (trousers and shirts but also dresses and skirts) are available in men’s and women’s tailoring. The designers were trained in both styles of tailoring but combine their ideas to make their fashions available to all, regardless of gender identity or presentation.
The cava and beer was flowing with entertainment provided by DJs and Admira Thunderpussy – Stockholm’s most famous drag queen. The rainbow flag bags were a huge hit (check them out on Instagram). The only thing left to ask is do they ship to the UK.
111 46, Smålandsgatan 14, 111 46 Stockholm, Sweden
hope-sthlm.com/eu/ / @hopestockholm
This HOPE Stockholm store is part of another Stockholm LGBT partner, Bibliotekstan, known as ’Stockholm Fashion District’, Bibliotekstan, just a few blocks where you will find the very best that fashion has to offer. International high-end brands sit alongside Swedish designers.
bibliotekstan.se / @bibliotekstan
Our first dinner in Stockholm was in the unparalleled setting of Mälarpaviljongen. Set on the lakeside is this gay-owned floating restaurant and bar offering stunning views of the water. The vibe was relaxed and fun with lots of their own brand of rainbow rosé, the profits from which are used to fund LGBT causes around the world. Even more touchingly, they largely recruit staff who are LGBT asylum seekers escaping persecution in their home nations, to train and help them adapt to Swedish gay life. As we toasted our first day in Stockholm it was impossible not to feel welcomed and free.
Norr Mälarstrand 64, 112 35 Stockholm, Sweden
malarpaviljongen.se/ / @malarpaviljongen
Our home for the next few days was the Courtyard Stockholm, located in one of the greenest parts of the city. A short walk down to the lake it is conveniently placed near Fridhemsplan tram station as well as a variety of restaurants and bars. The hotel is spacious and comfortable, with charming hints of traditional Scandinavian design.
Address: Rålambshovsleden 50, 112 19 Stockholm
Friday started bright and early with a guided tour of Gamla Stan, the Old Town, with Stockholm’s gay history guide Lars Bjorkman. Gamla Stan is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm and this is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. Lars is an amazing guide, combining history with contemporary culture and always eager to share his knowledge of LGBT history. Despite the heat, it was a wonderful way to see the city and I was personally very happy to learn more about Queen Christina – the gender-defying ruler made famous by Greta Garbo.
For lunch, it was time to take the ferry to the gorgeous Hotel Skeppsholmen. Located on the island of the same name, this building originated in 1699 as an army barracks. It has since been lovingly renovated into a modern, sleek hotel that prides itself on being eco-friendly and very, very Swedish. From the cuisine to the furniture, the art to the music – everything is a tribute to the thriving culture of Sweden.
In the August heat there was nothing better than a cold glass of white wine as you looked over the water. This is truly an oasis in the centre of Stockholm and a must see for any design aficionados.
Gröna gången 1, 111 86 Stockholm, Sweden
hotelskeppsholmen.se / @hotelskeppsholmen
After a ferry ride and a relaxed walk around Stockholm’s design centre, we sat down for Fika and a chat with the Mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngård. Over delicious pastries and coffee she told us about how proud she is of Stockholm’s welcoming attitude to LGBT people.
Our evening began at the hilltop setting of Södra Teatern. Inside was the scene of EuroPride’s biggest parties whilst we enjoyed delicious vegetarian food out on the terrace, courtesy of Mosebacke Etablissement. Dishes included a deliciously creamy chanterelle soup with herb oil, crispy fried broccoli with cashew and broccoli puree, and perfectly spiced black falafel with hummus and red cabbage. Dishes started from around SEK 95.
As the sun set the music got louder and groups of queer women appeared for the women-orientated club-nights such as Lesbians Out Loud and Moxy. Inside Södra Teatern can be slightly confusing with many staircases and rooms but you can wander round and see the vast variety of queer people that live and celebrate in Stockholm. Outdoor drinking ends at midnight due to its residential location but before that you can enjoy a beer on the smoking balcony with unparalleled views across Stockholm.
Mosebacke Torg 1, 116 46 Stockholm, Sweden
sodrateatern.com / @sodrateatern
We finished the night at Berns Hotel for a performance by Drag Race icon Detox. The inside is a grand baroque style with vaulting ceilings and ornate decoration but for a cooler and more relaxed atmosphere head upstairs to the terrace. Here you can mingle with a young, more male-orientated crowd.
Näckströmsgatan 8, 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden
berns.se/en/ / @berns
Saturday mercifully allowed us a lie-in to recover from the previous evening. As Stockholm prepared for the Pride Parade, we sat down to pizza and beer at the wonderful Taverna Brillo. The atmosphere was lively as crowds gathered and we watched the parade march right past the pizzeria.
Sturegatan 6, 114 35 Stockholm
tavernabrillo.se / @taverna_brillo
We rounded off a spectacular weekend in Stockholm with a visit to Pride Park. Conveniently located at the end of the parade, it was a very relaxed atmosphere with performances from Conchita Wurst, a touching tribute to Avici and a stomping show from europop icons Alcazar. There was plenty to explore with a champagne bar, kinky quarter, stalls and silent disco set away from the main stage.
It was the perfect way to end our visit with cheese, fizz and glitter. Stockholm was truly an amazing and welcoming city and EuroPride should be proud to be hosted there.
Fiskartorpsvägen 2, 114 33 Stockholm, Sweden
Our flights were kindly provided by Norwegian (norwegian.com). Norwegian operates 5 daily flights with free WiFi from London Gatwick, 2 weekly flights from Manchester and 3 weekly flights from Edinburgh to Stockholm. Fares start at £44.90 one way.
The airline flies from the UK to more than 50 global destinations, including the UK’s only low cost direct flights to America, South America and Asia.