When to visit Stockholm
March to May is the driest time of the year in Stockholm. Bars and cafes start opening their terraces (although blankets and heaters are usually still needed) and locals tend to be a little chirpier than you’ll find them during the long, dark winter. On the other hand, the city’s spring weather is sometimes fickle; snow could still make an appearance, or days might be gloomy and chilly. Seasonal highlights include the canopy of pale-pink cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården park, Hornstull’s weekly food and vintage market, which starts up in April, and Kulturnatt, an annual free celebration of music, art and literature, which typically takes place a few weeks after Easter.
Stockholm is unsurprisingly at its liveliest between the end of May and the beginning of September, when temperatures can hit 25C (occasionally even 30C) and the sun sets late into the evening. Swedes clock off from work as early as possible to enjoy a beer or a glass of rosé on board the city’s floating bars and spend their weekends sailing, hiking and barbecuing in the archipelago. The biggest national festival of the year, Midsummer, takes place around the summer solstice at the end of June. Swedes don flower crowns, dance around maypoles and drink schnapps. Note that many people head out to their summer cottages for the celebrations, with many remaining away from the capital for up to a month, so July isn’t the best time to mingle with the locals. August, by contrast, is the busiest month of the year for al fresco social events, ranging from park gigs and theatre performances to cinema screenings.
For a technicolour Stockholm experience, visit during autumn, when the capital’s iconic ochre and terracotta apartment blocks are offset by the red and golden leaves emerging from the capital’s tree-lined walkways. Between early September and early November there is still plenty of light, but you’ll also get to experience how cozy Stockholm becomes once the sun goes down, with apartment block windows starting to glow with candles and log fires lit in bars and restaurants. Two of the city’s longest running cultural events, Stockholm Jazz Festival and Stockholm Film Festival take place during this period. Mid-to-late November is one of the bleakest times of the year, with short days and rarely any snow to brighten up the surroundings.
Exploring Stockholm in the winter can be like stepping into a luxury Christmas card; a blanket of soft snow, real fir trees twinkling with lights and the smell of hot mulled wine wafting in the air. But it might also mean not feeling your fingers in temperatures of -20C, or trudging through melting brown slush if you arrive between snow dumps (there’s no guarantee you’ll catch the skyline in its white winter blanket). It’s dark too—in December the sun sets before 3pm. Hiring ice skates or cross-country skis is a popular way to embrace the cold when the days start getting longer.