Sweden has something very special going on here. Upon crossing the threshold of the massive outdoor music venue/gallery/club/bar complex Trädgården, you know you are in for a good time. Situated underneath the massive Skanstull Bridge (Skanstullsbron), this is the number one nightlife destination in Stockholm for live music and DJ performances.
We first visited on a Friday night to catch a set from the much-hyped Swedish psychedelic rock band Dungen. I should actually say “attempted to visit” because by the time we arrived (7 p.m.) the venue was filled to capacity and about 200 people stood in line with hopes of getting in. Also worth noting is that the venue holds 1750 people, so needless to say there is a lot of demand. We decided to wander elsewhere for the evening while listening to the last of the band’s set reverberating of the arches of the bridge overhead.
Luckily we learned from our mistakes and showed up earlier the following evening. Another bonus of arriving early is free entry; as the night goes on the entry prices raise, so get in early!
On the bill are a number of DJs and a video premier. Oh yeah, they screen films here too. The surprises are endless (upscale vegetarian restaurant Växthuset occupies one end of the complex while a Vietnamese sandwich cart and burger stand modeled after In-N-Out serves the other). Upon entering the festive space Jaime made the comment: “Could you imagine if this was in New York? It would be impossible to get in, ever.” So I guess now I understand the line!
But what about the drinks? Something needs to be said here. Alcohol in Sweden in expensive compared with other European countries, and the Swedish government has tight control over what kind of drinks are available for purchase and consumption. Grocery stores and markets cannot sell beer with high alcohol content, or wine, or liquor. If you want any of this or simply feel like drinking a real beer, you must visit one of the government operated Systembolaget stores. These outlets have strict daytime hours, armed guards, and no coolers. You can buy beer at a grocery store (as I did many times)… but it will be warm, pricey, and weak (2.8% – 3.5%).
With these tight controls and Scandinavia being an expensive destination, drinks at Trädgården are not cheap. Expect to spend about 75 SEK ($9) for a bottle of beer. Budgets are crucial and important, but splurging for a fun experience is more than acceptable once in a while and this splurge is definitely worth it! Hammarby Slussväg 2, Stockholm.