ABBAsolutely Fabulous - Tom Sweeney visits Stockholm's ABBA Museum
Gimme, gimme, gimme a visit to the ABBA Museum says Tom Sweeney... a must-see on any short break in Stockholm.
I got to fulfill a long-held ambition last week.
I kissed Agnetha Faltskog (the blonde one from ABBA). She didn’t look too happy.
If she’d seen me a few minutes later dancing to Money, Money, Money (it was funny, funny, funny) or heard me singing Mamma Mia, it would’ve been a different story – she’d have bust her Rear of the Year (1975) laughing.
I was in Stockholm to check out the ABBA Museum, which opened only last year and has just welcomed its 500,000th visitor.
For years, fans who found themselves in the Swedish capital would ask for directions to the ABBA Museum, only to be told that there wasn’t one. There is now, and it’s ABBAsolutely fabulous.
A sign outside suggests visitors will 'WALK IN, DANCE OUT'. It fails to mention that anyone who does walk in may have to be dragged out, because it’s such good fun that nobody wants to leave.
With the group’s universally-loved hits playing non-stop, you can dance, you can jive – and you’ll definitely be having the time of your life.
There’s a red telephone in the museum that occasionally rings.
If you’re nearest when the bell trills and pick it up, you’ll find yourself chatting with Agnetha or bandmates Bjorn, Benny or Anni-Frid (Frida). They're the only people in the world who know the number, and now and then one of them will call and chat with whoever answers.
Knowing my luck, if it had rung when I was there, it would’ve been my bank manager looking for some Money, Money, Money. There’s also a piano that sometimes springs into life. It’s hooked up to Benny’s piano in his nearby studio, and when he plays there, the one in the museum plays too.
Thank You For The Music
Step up to the microphone in one of the three recording booths, draw the soundproof curtain behind you and sing along, karaoke-style, to your favourite ABBA song. Swipe the bar code on your ticket and your efforts will be recorded to be downloaded later and shared on social media (or immediately deleted to avoid a slagging).
The Name of the Game
. . . is to accumulate points on the digital scoreboard as you sing. The better you sound, the more points you’re awarded. Anyone with half-a-note in their head can expect to score 2,500. A good singer will get 5,000 to 8,000. A really good singer is up in the 10,000-plus club. I got 744. They’ll have to get a technician in.
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
. . . a go at being the “fifth member of ABBA”. Get up on stage and sing along with animated holograms of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Frida. There’s a choice of songs, and again you can swipe your ticket and download the video of your performance.
I Have A Dream
. . . that Agnetha didn’t marry Bjorn and decided to Take A Chance On Me.
That way, I wouldn’t have been kissing a poster in a museum. The poster is from the 1976 Greatest Hits album and shows Benny and Frida eating the faces off each other while Agnetha looks as miserable as sin and Bjorn reads an antibiotics brochure (don’t ask). They’re all sitting on a green park bench – the same one I sat on when I planted a smacker on Agnetha’s cheek. A few steps away is the helicopter from the cover of the Arrival album, which you can sit in for another great photo opp.
. . . is what shocked Italian visitors, especially from global fashion capital Milan, will exclaim when they see the crazy costumes ABBA wore on their worldwide concert tours. They’re the most-photographed of the thousands of exhibits (everything is genuine) and are outrageously garish. The most-most-photographed are the costumes the band wore when they won the Eurovision in 1974 with Waterloo.
Having viewed the hundreds of concert posters, tickets and programmes that occupy every inch of wall space along with umpteen gold and platinum discs, you can risk a couple of slipped discs by throwing some shapes dancing to ABBA’s most popular songs in the disco.
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
. . . recommend the ABBA Museum as the excuse you might have been looking for to visit Stockholm. It’s a hoot.
The ABBA Museum is open from 10am to 6pm Saturday to Tuesday and 10am to 8pm Wednesday to Friday. Tickets (buy online) are for pre-selected time slots to avoid queues. Admission is 195 kronor for adults, 50kr for an accompanying child aged seven to 15 and 145kr for each additional child (children up to seven free).
See abbathemuseum.com for more.
Fly SAS Plus (flysas.ie) from Dublin to Stockholm from €110pp one way, including 2 x 23kg checked bags, changeable tickets, fast-track security, lounge access and complimentary food/drink on board.
Fly SAS from Dublin to Stockholm from €76pp one way, including 1 x 23kg checked bag, coffee or tea on board and mobile check-in.
Frequent Arlanda Express trains (arlandaexpress.com) connect Arlanda Airport with Stockholm Central Station (20-minute journey).
For more info, see arlandaexpress.com
Where to Stay
The 274-room HTL (Kungsgatan 53; htlhotels.com) is a good-value, good-looking, good-vibe place to stay and only a five-minute wheelie-bag drag from Central Station... plus there’s free wi-fi throughout.
Check-in online before you arrive and receive your room key direct to your smartphone, which cuts out reception desk queues. And there’s no checking-out – rooms are paid in advance, so simply pack and leave. No waiting to get in, no waiting to get out.
Even better, a room for two people for two nights with breakfast costs from 2,098kr (€230), so €115 each or €57.50 per person per night – that’s a bargain for Scandinavia.