Back when I worked for a well-known Swedish news outlet I was lucky enough to attend the Nobels twice and if I’m honest with you the effort that goes into finding a dress alone is enough to put you off the whole thing. The prize giving ceremony can be a bit dry and long – and there aren’t any bathroom breaks. The banquet, aside from the usually stunning entertainment, is really about spotting famous faces – or at least it was from my vantage point, which was up in the rafters with the rest of the journalists.
So, while you might not be invited to the Nobels this year do not despair; here are five ways to celebrate the great and the good and to do so in much more comfortable clothing and with much less worry about standing on ceremony.
Visit Stockholm Concert Hall/Konserthuset
Located in the city centre, Stockholm’s giant blue Konserthuset dominates Hötorget square. The Hall is a bustling centre of activity, offering concerts, lectures and various other cultural events all year round. Guided tours are available and if you want to make like a local, linger on the steps and watch the flutter of activity in the market that takes over the area six days a week. Come Nobel night the square is cordoned off and many Stockholmers gather to watch the dignitaries arrive for the prize giving ceremony, much in the style of a movie premier. Should you get a good spot you may catch a glimpse of a top Swedish celebrity, one or more of the winners or even a member of the Swedish royal family.
Tour the Stockholm City Hall/Stadshuset
The Blue Hall is where the Nobel dinner is held. It’s drafty, chilly and full of echoes, which means taking one of the tours BEFORE the dinner is held is a far better bet as you can bundle up and enjoy the ambience without worrying about which fork to use or whether you’ve made the fatal faux pas of tasting your starter before the King gets stuck in. City Hall offers daily guided tours in both Swedish and English and while there is no set schedule, stop by and book yourself in. If there’s a wait the grounds of City Hall are great for a wander, the views across the water to Söder are stunning and there’s a gift shop to browse, as well as a little café just outside the grounds where you can grab a fika.
Check out the Nobel Museum
This museum, situated right in the heart of Old Town (Gamla Stan), is where you can learn about the history of the Nobels, from Alfred himself to past winners. The museum offers guided tours, along with exhibitions, films, and a plethora of interactive displays that will leave you reeling from the sheer genius highlighted. There’s a small café, where you can nosh on traditional Swedish fare and even try the legendary Nobel ice cream.
Try a Nobel Ice Cream
A special dessert was first created for the Nobel Banquet in 1976 and was dubbed the Nobel Ice cream. This tradition continued until 1998 and during that time you could buy, around Nobel time, cartons of the ice cream in specially selected outlets. Today, the ice cream is only made for and available at the Nobel Museum and Bistro Nobel. It’s a fantastic little treat to be shared with children and grownups alike and well worth the wait you’re sure to encounter in this tiny little bistro.
In your living room, some friends, a cookbook
Ok, this might sound like a copout but I promise you that once you’ve visited the above this is the best way to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing Nobel evening, because to be honest the 10th of December usually isn’t the most inviting day of the year weather-wise.
So if you’re not invited why not whip up your own 3 course banquet before settling down to watch the events live on SVT or via live streaming from the Nobel website? If you want to make it a full day event – why not meet up in advance and watch the Peace Prize lecture live from here.
With the help of some friends and family you should be able to eat in nearly as much style as those attending the banquet. The bonus? You can throw caution to the wind and break protocol by diving into your starter before the King and you can talk through the whole thing, commenting on what the Queen is wearing, who is seated next to whom, and place bets on which Nobel speech will be the ‘funny’ one (there’s always one, trust me). Double bonus is you can enjoy all the bathroom breaks one would need.
Crazy about the Nobels and want to know more? For more information on this year’s winners, click here.