Summer Stockholm is so enjoyable other cities are lucky that the days get shorter and the weather gets worse in later parts of the year. Otherwise, it would be nearly impossible for them to compete with the Swedish capital.
The numerous parks that welcome you all around the city are all pretty, yet each and every one of them has a different character, and many have impressive stories to tell. Some were established by the Royals, others have changed beyond recognition over the centuries of their existence, and you would also find a few rather modern ones which are simply unique at their very core.
While it is fun to explore the parks in Stockholm essentially at any time, I want to give you a great tip to make your experience so much more special. Every summer, Stockholm parks come alive with the so-called Park Theatre (Parkteatern) when you can enjoy diverse performances in several parts of the city.
Theatre, dance, circus, and numerous music genres. You can see all of that and more primarily in three Stockholm parks which represent three different styles of green places the city has to offer.
You know that everything is better with pleasant music in the background, so let’s explore the three parks where you can feel like a movie star. Just you, walking down a beautiful green park while charming tones are flowing through the air.
Kungsträdgården, or ‘The King’s Garden,’ was established in the Middle Ages as a kitchen garden providing supplies on the king’s table who resided in the Royal Palace located only a stone’s throw away from the garden.
It was during the 17th century that the garden was turned into a decorative one following then-modern aesthetics originating on the continent, mainly in France. To foreigners, though, it still appeared poorly maintained and rather modest, to say the least, compared to what they had seen elsewhere.
Nevertheless, this did not bother common citizens of Stockholm too much as they were not welcome at Kungsträdgården before the era known as the Age of Liberty starting in 1718. At that point, the character of the garden changed completely, and it soon became a beloved place where many balls, concerts, and festivities used to take place.
Things started changing again in the early 1800s. This time for the worse, however. After several decades of insufficient care, all that was left was a large area covered in sand. Although many might not have believed it, the best times were yet to come to Kungsträdgården.
In the latter half of the 19th century, when it came to be colloquially known as Torget (‘The Square’), the garden became Stockholm’s most prominent fashion hub. Citizens of all classes would come out there in the afternoon and present their latest and greatest outfits, chat, and hope to be recognised by the society.
Although Kungsträdgården is not quite the same today, it is still a very lively place where you are likely to meet plenty of people year-round. In winter, there is an ice rink surrounding the statue of King Karl XIII standing in the centre of the garden. During summer, on the other hand, the King’s Garden becomes the venue of many cultural and gastronomic events.
When I say the three parks you can get to know with the summer Park Theatre are very different in nature, the contrast between Galärparken and Kungsträdgården could hardly illustrate my point more clearly.
Whereas Kungsträdgården is a busy place right on the border of the historical Old Town and the modern city centre of Stockholm, Galärparken lies on the relaxed, green Djurgården. Its position on the island is also somewhat special as it is not crossed by traditional tourist paths. However, it is still close to several of the city’s most popular museums.
Matching the character of the western part of the Royal Djurgården, Galärparken is both part of the rich city life and a place where you can tune out and simply watch the urban life from afar. Out of the three parks that the summer performances can help you explore, this is the one I would recommend to the most romantic souls.
Just imagine yourself sitting on the extensive lawns of Djurgården, watching the sun go down while listening to smooth tunes of live music and watching boats float by.
Having talked about a former French-style garden and a place in a natural area where the landscape and sea views are the most beautiful features, we have yet to explore another type of parks characteristic of Stockholm.
Vitabergsparken, located in the south-eastern part of the Södermalm Island, is a typical representative of the so-called Hill parks.
Topped with the massive Sofia Church representing an important societal change in what was formerly perhaps the poorest slum in the Swedish capital, this extensive park hides many secrets. Among them is the elegant Music Pavilion, but most importantly for us, the amphitheatre where many of the foremost summer performances take place.
This is the park to go for you who are looking for the most well-organised venue to enjoy theatre, dance, and music under the stars disturbed by nothing but singing birds and peaceful greenery of the park itself.
Before I conclude this post, let me point you to the official programme of the 2018 Park Theatre which you can find on the website of the City Theatre (Stadsteatern) organised by month with summaries available in English.
I hope you will not only enjoy some unforgettable performances in Stockholm this summer but also that you will get a chance to get to know the beautiful parks in the Swedish capital better.
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