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Nobel Week kicks off with feast and fancy

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Nobel Week kicks off with feast and fancy
09:47 CET+01:00
Nobel Week is once again in full swing, with the 12 Nobel laureates and their respective entourages arriving in the Swedish capital over the weekend. The week's festivities will culminate with the Nobel Ceremony and Banquet on Thursday.

As the laureates prepare to give their Nobel lectures at the beginning of the week, the event's organizers are busy preparing the Stockholm Concert Hall (Konserthuset) and City Hall (Stadshuset).

Altogether, 37,000 flowers have been imported from San Remo, the Italian city where Alfred Nobel died on 10 December 1896, to decorate Nobel Week's two main venues.

Konserthuset will be decked out in the colours of a wintery Swedish forest; the wall behind the stage will be decorated with about 14,000 flowers in various shades of green and white, which will be framed by Swedish fir.

The entire royal family will be in attendance. Princess Madeleine's fiancée, Jonas Bergström, will also be there, while Crown Princess Victoria's husband-to-be will remain at home recovering from an illness.

Neither Princess Lilian nor Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will attend the ceremonies, with Reinfeldt in Brussels for the final meeting of European heads of state under the Swedish EU presidency.

Michael Solfman, who has been executive director of the Nobel Foundation for 17 years, expects the award ceremony to be especially distinguished this year.

“There will be another color than black and white on the podium, thanks to the ladies who are coming. It is an all time high that five of the 12 laureates in Stockholm are women, and that's really exciting,” he told TT news agency.

“Like a fairy tale” is theme for the food, entertainment and flower arrangements for the Nobel Banquet at the Stockholm City Hall following the award ceremony. The menu, however, remains top secret until the 1,300 banquet guests have been seated.

The Nobel shopping list is enormous. According to the Nobel Foundation, one year the shopping list for the banquet consisted of 2,692 pigeon breasts, 475 lobster tails, 100 kilos of potatoes, 70 liters of sweet and sour raspberry vinegar sauce, 67 kilos of Jerusalem artichokes, 53 kilos of Philadelphia cheese, and 45 kilos of lightly smoked salmon, among other ingredients.

On the morning of the feast, more than 7,000 porcelain pieces, 5,000 glasses and 10,000 pieces of silverware must be set out on the 470 metres of linen adorning 65 tables. And while expectant guests anticipate their royal meal, it takes six minutes from the time the waiters begin the procession down the steps until everyone has been served. The king is served first, immediately followed by the queen.

There were 113 male guests in attendance at the first Nobel Banquet, held in 1901 in the Grand Hotel's Hall of Mirrors.

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