Our littlest girl, Krissy, turned three on the 18th of June. We wanted to celebrate her birthday in a place where she can be let loose and lost in a world of her own. So Junibacken it was!
Junibacken was on top of the list of must-see-places I had jotted down prior to coming to Stockholm. However, I did not hurry myself into visiting the place since I wanted to do some ground work ahead of going there.
This children’s attraction is dedicated to Astrid Lindgren’s books. Astrid is a Swedish author who is best known for her children’s books, especially ‘Pippi Longstocking’! I wanted to know more about Astrid and her books before I could visit Junibacken.
When I first arrived here in Stockholm, I was kind of puzzled at the children’s cartoon’s, books and for that matter, even some of the art in the city. When it came to art, my south Asian mind has been programmed to seeing systematic patterns and a certain kind of organised motifs. The Swedish art took me by both surprise and shock. At the first look, one may find it off-hand, casual and even erratic!
It was only when my girls started attending Swedish schools (about which you can read here!) I kind of figured the reason behind it. I discovered one of the main fundamentals of the Swedish education system is IMAGINATION! From a very tender age, kids are encouraged to imagine, speak about their imagination and even create their imagination. No one sets a limit to the child’s imagination. There is no right or wrong. The child can color outside the lines and draw a ‘straight circle’ if he/she wants to!
Once when I went to KT’s parent teacher’s meet, they had displayed all the art the kids had created during their after school program. You won’t believe what the 6 year olds had created –
- A fusion of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings
- Creatures/characters of their imagination in play doh
- And they had even drawn their ’emotions’
These are just a few to mention!
You may ask me what does that have to do with Junibacken?
Author Astrid was one who knew the power of imagination, especially that of a child’s.
She said, “I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read.”
She lived in a time when women primarily did just domestic stuff. Astrid dreamed and imagined a world where man-made barriers were broken and women could be anything they wanted to be. And so was born ‘Pippi Longstocking’ and many many more stories and characters!
Sweden today, I must say, is Astrid’s dream come true in many ways!
On arriving at Junibacken in Djurgården, we saw one building, just one floor and it was kind of relatively small to what I had imagined it to be. In all honesty, I wondered how much could be there inside. I remembered reading about a train ride inside, but from the outside, it seemed quite impossible for a train to fit into that building.
Note to self and you readers – appearances are deceptive 😉
We first entered the Storybook Square!
It is filled with cafes, cottages, shops and animals from Astrid’s stories.
You will notice each little place has been created with utmost care, so well thought out from a child’s point of view.
One moment you enter as an adult and the next you find yourself one among the other kids!
Kids can crawl, climb, slide in and through every display!
If you are a kid at heart, even you can get yourself inside. Some passages were too narrow for me, but it did not stop me. I squeezed myself in as you can see!
The little houses have everything a kid would want – little furniture, utensils and pretend food!
Krissy was such a wonderful host. She welcomed me home and served me tea and cinnamon buns!
You can slide your way out of this house! Someday when we build a home, I dream of having a slide from one floor to the next or to the garden!
More pretty little houses…
Cool hotdog stands…
After nearly an hour and a half of exploring and playing in the Storybook Square, we headed to the much talked about train ride!
At first when these little cubicles arrived, I was a little apprehensive and inquisitive about the ride.
As it slowly moved, trust me, it was an adventure of its own! I never ever thought something this magical was in store inside this little building. Simply awe inspiring! I am not sharing the pics or writing more about it because I would like you to experience all the twists and turns right out of the blue!
Although I did not know much about the characters and stories that we saw and experienced along the ride, the narration that was being played was very emotional.
Right in the middle of the ride, was a story about two brother’s Jonathan and Karl. Jonathan passes away in an accident and goes to this beautiful land called Nangilima, a land where there are only happy adventures and eternal light.
For those of you who may not know, my very own only brother’s name was Jonathan. Last year, he passed away in a tragic accident. Not a day goes by without thoughts of him. I wake up and go to bed thinking of him, with my heart torn apart missing him so intensely.
However, above all the troubling pain, there is this envelope of peace and a confident hope that my brother has just passed on to the world on the other side – the world of eternal light and happy adventures!
The story of Jonathan and Karl, although just a tiny portion from the original story, was a sudden spring of reassurance and I did not want the train ride to end!
I cannot wait to get hold of ‘The Brother’s Lionheart’ by Astrid Lindgren and read the entire story.
The train dropped us at the entrance of Pippi’s house.
It was one big, pretty, messy and super cute house, the girls loved exploring!
The view opposite to Pippi’s house is simply breathtaking!
Your eyes are treated with this beautiful Stockholm skyline!
The Junibacken in Stockholm was opened by the Swedish Royal family in 1996 and this wall had a beautiful gallery of that day. KT loves photographs of royals. She is constantly amazed by the fact that kings and queens do exist in our times!
As we followed the stairway to the exit, quite disappointed that our much awaited day was almost over, we landed in this fancy restaurant.
The restaurant led us to another world altogether – the Barbro Lindgren World!
I can only say it was a visual and a magical treat on a whole new level! I leave the pics to explain!
The bookstore has an irresistible collection of books and toys!
The fun continues as you move outside to the garden.
It was a lovely sunny day. Our time at Junibacken made the day an unforgettable one!
We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch in the lush green garden right outside Junibacken.
As the birthday girl took a nap after a long exciting day, the rest of us sat there on the water bank, enjoying the sun, the breeze, the boats and stunning Stockholm!
Both the girls spent the entire day in this pretty organic cotton frock by the fabulous Danish brand Småfolk. It has the cutest penguin print. The material is super soft and breathable. It was a perfect addition to a perfect day. Click here to check out more of their collection!
Thank you Junibacken and Småfolk for making my little girl’s birthday a super special one!
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to Junibacken and frocks by Småfolk to review. All opinions are my own, and are totally honest!