It’s a crazy statement to say in the 21st century that I’ve been to enough balls to have a favorite ball among all the NYC balls. The Scandinavian Christmas Ball is held every year to mark the beginning of the Christmas season and is absolutely in my top three list of must-do balls. It’s festive, it’s fun, and it’s in a beautiful 19th century mansion, the Metropolitan Club.
The Scandinavian Society Christmas Ball in NYC
The ball is held at the Metropolitan Club on East 61st Street. If you look at the west facing window onto 5th Avenue, you’ll see Central Park sitting across the street. It’s prime real estate. This is why Andrew Carnegie had chose to build his mansion here back in the 19th century.
Highlights of the ball include a formal three-course dinner, guest performances, hors d’oeuvres, a large dessert buffet, a silent auction, the Lucia Presentation, and dancing in the ballroom to an 8-piece orchestra. Each year the have a guest of honor, like the famous Finnish actress Taina Elg.
Ambassadors and consuls general of the five Scandinavian countries are usually in attendance. You see them walking around with insignia on their formal wear.
The ball is really about marking the start of the Christmas season and gathering everyone from all the chapters in one place to celebrate together.
The proceeds also go to the foundation’s educational and cultural programs. These help scholars and Scandinavian students to visit the USA and American students to visit Scandinavia.
How I Make it Happen At the Ball
Since this ball is on a Friday, and I do work in the rigid world of Corporate America/NYC, it’s not easy to be like hey I’m leaving work early to go to a ball.
Unless you seek out all the cool, unique things going on in NYC (like this ball), people think most of the things I do are completely random and weird. So I just for the dancing part of the evening, which starts at nine.
This ideally would give me enough time to finish work, change into my Rent-the-Runway ball gown in my work’s bathroom or at a friend’s apartment, put on my evening makeup, and then get to my hair appointment at a blow dry bar. Then, with all my makeup, clothes, and change of shoes, I hail a cab and head to the ball.
When I went with my friend Becky the first year to the Scandinavian Society Christmas Ball, she had put all her stuff into a backup. We were hysterical laughing as we rolled up to the Metropolitan Club, one of NYC’s private old-world clubs, and walked into the beautifully decorated and elegant event wearing a backpack.
But that’s how we roll. We checked our bags once we got there and made beeline for the food.
The Lucia Presentation
The Lucia Presentation is my favorite part of the ball. Since I’m a late person I almost miss it every year! I’m like to Cinderella to these balls because I’m late, but not in the cool, elegant way. It’s more of me just rushing like a madwoman from work. Even though I always think I plan enough of a buffer room to get ready before the event in time, something always happens at work last minute.
Anyway, according to the American Scandinavian site, the “Lucia procession is an honored part of this Gala evening, and the participation of the children and grandchildren of our members a long tradition. This occasion has been celebrated in a number of landmark locations in the city such as the Waldorf Astoria, the Pierre Hotel, and currently the Metropolitan Club.”
What happens is that the children and a few adults dress up and look like angels. They were a crown of candles on their head and hold a candle as they go from the second floor balcony to the stairs in a slow singing procession.
They’re singing traditional Scandinavian Christmas music and the voices are amazing. Picture this; the Grand Ballroom is fully decorated in Christmas splendor, the lights dim, the crowd gathers around the piano and elegant staircase, then from above the soft, melodic sounds of children in a soft crescendo is heard from above. It’s so festive! I love, love it.
Dancing at the Christmas Ball
For the dancing part of the evening, the band has been different each time that I’ve went. I loved the last band they had, the Chris Norton Band. He was very interactive with the crowd and would come into the middle of everyone dancing to sing.
The dancing part is a lot of fun that I wish it could go on longer. By this point they’re planning modern song covers, which I get is why it’s only at the end of the evening. The ball is mostly an older, foreign crowd so that’s not really their thing.
However, outside of the Lucia Presentation, my favorite thing that has happened at the Scandinavian Ball was when we were in the middle of dancing and the Scandinavians jumped in to start doing traditional dance.
I’m not exactly sure what I was doing. But we were in a circle holding hands and rotating around in a quickened pace. I think there were kicks involved. Very fun and lots of laughing. Also, I do have to mention that a good portion of the night was comprised of my friends and I exploring the Metropolitan Club and taking pictures.
It’s a beautiful place and so “instagramable”. My boyfriend will make fun of me for using that word. But it was, so whatever!
The American Scandinavian Society of NYC
The American Scandinavian Society is Pan-Scandinavian and promotes the cultural ties between the USA and the people of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. This means that they’re devoted to bringing musical, education, and artistic events to the NYC area that showcase Nordic culture and character.
Throughout the year they have different events that include jazz concerts, lectures, tours of the Scandinavian House, speeches, artists, mini concerts and more. Outside of my favorite Christmas Ball, two popular highlights of the year include their Winter Concert at the Norwegian Church and World Yacht luncheon cruise on the Hudson.
Established in 1908 by a Danish Brooklyn industrialist, the American Scandinavian Society has been operating ever since as a non-profit. There are other chapters outside of NYC and the NYC chapter is all volunteers.
If you’d like to get tickets to this wonderfully Christmas even, you can find those here with more information, Scandinavian Society. As alluded to, there are two ticket options that you can get. The first is dinner + dancing and the second is just the dancing ticket. My friends and I usually opt for just the dancing ticket. Since it’s held on a Friday and we have to work, we never make the dinner portion in time.