Djurgården is the city's favorite spot for both indoor and outdoor evening events. Although the more sophisticated may find it corny, this is your best early-evening bet. Afterward, you can make the rounds of Stockholm's jazz venues and nightclubs, some of which stay open until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Pick up a copy of What's On, distributed at virtually every hotel in town as well as at the Tourist Center at Sweden House to see what entertainment and cultural venues are scheduled during your time in Stockholm.The Performing Arts
All the major opera, theater, and concert seasons begin in the fall, except for special summer festival performances. Fortunately, most of the major opera and theatrical performances are funded by the state, which keeps ticket prices reasonable.
Theater -- The theater season begins in mid-August and lasts until mid-June.
The Capital of Gay Scandinavia
Copenhagen thrived for many years as a refreshingly raunchy city with few inhibitions and fewer restrictions on alternative sexual preferences. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Stockholm witnessed an eruption of new gay bars, discos, and roaming nightclubs. Copenhagen's more imperial and, in many ways, more staid competition made the Danes' legendary permissiveness look a bit weak. Today, thanks partly to the huge influence of London's gay subcultures, no other city in Scandinavia offers gay-friendly nightlife options as broad and diverse as Stockholm's. Some of the gay bars and clubs maintain fixed hours and addresses. Others, configured as roving parties, constantly change addresses. Listings for gay entertainment venues appear regularly in QX, a gay magazine published in Swedish and English. It's available at gay bars and news kiosks throughout Stockholm. You can also check out the magazine's website (www.qx.se). And don't overlook the comprehensive website www.rfsl.se maintained by RSFL, a Swedish organization devoted to equal rights for gays.
Gay Venues in Södermalm -- Looking for a nonconfrontational bar peopled with regular guys who happen to be gay? Consider a round or two on the island of Södermalm at Sidetrack, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 7 (tel. 08/641-16-88; www.sidetrack.nu; T-bana: Mariatorget). Small, amicable, committed to shunning trendiness, and located deep within a cellar a few blocks from the also-recommended Hotel Rival, it's named after the founder's favorite gay bar in Chicago. It's open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm to 1am. Tuesday nights here seem to be something of a gay Stockholm institution. Other nights are fine, too -- something like a Swedish version of a bar and lounge at the local bowling alley, where everyone happens to be into same-sex encounters. Prefacing the bar is a well-managed restaurant, serving dinner only, Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to 1am (June-Aug Tues-Sat 8pm-1am). Main courses cost from 89SEK to 155SEK ($18-$31/£9-£16).
To find a Viking, or Viking wannabe, in leather, a 2-minute walk from the above-recommended Sidetrack, head for SLM (Scandinavian Leather Men), Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 18 (tel. 08/643-31-00; www.slmstockholm.se; T-bana: Mariatorget). Technically, this is a private club. But if you look hot and not creepy, and if you wear just a hint (or even a lot) of cowhide or rawhide, or happen to have spent the past 6 months felling timber in Montana, you stand an excellent chance of getting in -- if you don't object to paying a "membership fee" of around 100SEK ($20/£10). On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10pm to 2am, the place, located within what might be the deepest basement in Stockholm, functions as Stockholm's premier leather bar. You'll find lots of masculine-looking men on the street level and a handful of toys and restrictive accoutrements in the cellar-level dungeon. Most of the staff on duty here are volunteers, some of them expatriates from neighboring Finland looking to promulgate the aesthetics of, among others, Tom of Finland (the world's most famous gay male erotica artist). On Saturday from 10pm to 2am, a DJ spins highly danceable music. It's closed on other nights.
Södermalm's most trend-conscious dining venue is the Roxy, a boxy, modern-looking site on the Nytorg 6 (tel. 08/640-96-55; www.roxysofo.se). Funky and whimsical, it has a decor that might have been inspired by a meeting in heaven between the last of Vienna's Hapsburgs and the design team at SAS. The sofas evoke a Danish airport lounge in 1966, and mismatched crystal chandeliers seem to echo the sounds of a Strauss waltz. Art Deco objets d'art might have been salvaged from a 1930s-era ocean liner, and two or three porcelain incarnations of pink flamingos are strictly from 1950s Miami. Drinks of choice include an Assburner (Jack Daniels with ginger, lime juice, and red-hot chilis); a Razz (raspberry liqueur, vodka, and 7-Up), and a Cosmo spiked with ginger. You can always drop in just for a drink (the crowd tends to be youngish and cute-ish), but if you want dinner, main courses cost from 182SEK to 245SEK ($36-$49/£18-£25). The place opens Tuesday to Sunday at 5pm, and closes anytime between 11pm and 1am, depending on business and the night of the week.
Gay Venues in Gamla Stan -- If you need a caffeine fix and a slice of chocolate cake before all that leather and latex, you might want to drop into Stockholm's most appealing, best-managed gay cafe, Chokladkoppen, Stortorget 18-20 (tel. 08/20-31-70; T-bana: Gamla Stan). On the street level of a house erected in the 15th century, across from the Nobel Museum, it's open daily from 9am to 11pm. It specializes in sandwiches, gorgeous pastries, and all manner of chocolate confections that appeal even to straight people. The staff is charming, and the clientele more gay than not. The consistently most popular item on the menu is a steaming cupful of white hot chocolate, priced at 35SEK ($7/£3.50), which -- if you're really hooked on calories -- might be accompanied by a slice of white chocolate cheesecake, for 40SEK ($8/£4).