The Abba fan’s guide to the world


‘I don’t wanna talk, about things we’ve gone through.” The opening line of Abba’s forlorn 1980 break-up hit The Winner Takes It All always sounded hopelessly unrealistic. Few musical acts have held the public’s affection or interest quite as firmly as this celebrated (largely) Swedish pop quartet. Even now, half a century on from their formation, there is a rare fascination with the songs they recorded; an appetite for everything from Waterloo to Super Trouper that has sustained films and musicals.

There certainly is again, as of September last year, which brought the remarkable news that the full line-up has reformed, and was set to release a first studio album in 40 years. Voyage, which included the new single I Still Have Faith In You, appeared on November 5. 

Scene from ABBA: THE MOVIE, 1977 - band dressed in white sat on grass drinking wine and picnic basket full of roses

A scene from Abba: The Movie, 1977

Credit: AA Film Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Better still, it is to be accompanied by a 21st century resurrection of their art from May 27. Abba Voyage ( will be a concert show that will see the group return to the stage as holograms  “singing” for crowds of up to 3,000 at a purpose-built theatre in east London. State-of-the-art technology has been used to create digital versions of all four members as they were in 1979 – and have them perform 22 songs in a 90-minute collision of nostalgia and modern science.

Of course, as with all hotly-trailed “comebacks”, there is a little longer to wait; the shows are not due to begin until the spring. Until then, you can trace the Abba legend in a few corners of the globe.

Where to visit if you’re an Abba fan


Although only one of the Abba foursome (Benny Andersson) was born in Stockholm (Bjorn Ulvaeus is a Gothenburg boy; Agnetha Faltskog is a daughter of the southerly city of Jonkoping; and Anni-Frid Lyngstad took her first breath in the northerly Norwegian village of Bjorkasen), Sweden’s capital has long been the band’s spiritual home and base.

The partnership was reconfirmed in 2013 with the opening of Abba: The Museum (; 250 kronor/£21) – a gloriously interactive temple to the group’s legacy, in the Djurgardsvagen district of the city. Along with the inevitable array of costumes and awards (an entire wall is given over to gold discs from various countries), visitors can join (again, hologram versions of) the group on stage for karaoke renditions of the classics, and gaze expectantly at a piano that is linked electronically to Andersson’s instrument at home (if he plays in his own studio, the museum’s keyboard springs to life).

View over Gamla Stan old town in Stockholm

Stockholm has long been a spiritual home for Abba devotees

Credit: K’Nub/Moment RF

It also has a recreation of Polar Studios, the creative hub set up by Andersson and Ulvaeus in 1978, where Abba recorded three albums (Voulez-Vous, Super Trouper, The Visitors), and the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Ramones and Roxy Music committed work to tape. Alas, this is as close as you can get to the real thing. The studio moved out of its premises in 2004 – a converted former cinema – in a row over rent, and no longer exists. You can, though, still find the relevant bricks and mortar – the giant 1930s Sportpalatset building, at Sankt Eriksgatan 58-60, in the Kungsholmen area. The room where Lay All Your Love on Me and I Have a Dream were laid down is now a gym.

If this is a disappointment for true Abba devotees, Stockholm does serve up one band-related surprise. Although Abba: The Movie – the 1977 drama-documentary that captured the quartet on the road – is largely a document of their Australian tour of the same year, the crucial scene in which the fictional journalist following the band finally meets them was shot in the Swedish capital. Specifically, in the lobby and the lift of the Sheraton hotel – a doughty five-star at Tegelbacken 6, in the central Norrmalm district, which offers double rooms from £106.


Abba: The Movie is a curious beast, using the story of one man trying (and eventually managing) to get an interview with the band as the structure that holds together a feast of footage of the foursome in concert. But while the flimsy narrative is invented, both the performances and the scenes of fan hysteria that enveloped them were real – and if you can wait for Australia to emerge from its self-imposed Covid exile, you can retrace the route (Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne, in that order). The 15-day Coast to Coast: Indian Pacific Rail and Hamilton Island trip sold by Austravel (020 8106 2405; – from £3,999 per person, with flights – will cover most of the mileage, although you will need an extension to Melbourne, where some of the film’s key moments took place (a civic reception at the town hall; and a gig where 16,000 fans without tickets gathered beyond the fences at the outdoor venue, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, to listen).

Melbourne's Town Hall

Melbourne’s town hall hosted a civic reception for Abba

Credit: Piero Damiani/Moment Open


While the Abba story has its roots in the 1960s, the breakthrough was, of course, the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The details are now ingrained in popular culture – the unleashing of Waterloo, written specifically for the competition; a win (Sweden’s first) that catapulted the band into a broader consciousness; the song’s resultant topping of the singles charts in several countries.

What is occasionally forgotten is that this victory occurred not in some colossal arena in Scandinavia, but on the English south coast. The UK stepped in to host the event when Luxembourg, having triumphed in 1972 and 1973, bridled at the expense of putting on the show for a second consecutive year. Instead, East Sussex and the Brighton Dome took on the job. The latter is still firmly in operation (, and will welcome stars as varied as musician Nick Cave, astronaut Tim Peake, comedian Katherine Ryan, food guru Nigella Lawson and the London African Gospel Choir in the next four months.

You can also stay at the landmark where Abba slept, and celebrated their achievement – the Grand Brighton hotel (01273 224300;, the venerable Victorian five-star that has been a fixture of the city’s seafront since 1864 (double rooms from £85).

Brighton Dome concert hall

Brighton Dome, where ABBA won Eurovision in 1974

Credit: Hugh Fox

Occasionally also forgotten is that the UK jury gave Waterloo “nul points” – although Ulvaeus certainly hadn’t forgotten when asked about it in 2013, suspecting tactical voting against a likely rival to the home entry (Olivia Newton-John, singing Long Live Love). “It sounds like they were trying to do something cunning,” he commented. “It’s kind of strange they’d give us zero points. The British were the first to embrace us after we won.”


Nothing has demonstrated the longevity of Abba’s music like the box-office receipts for Mamma Mia! – the strapping of the band’s back catalogue to the story of a young woman trying to discover the identity of her father as she prepares for her wedding. It began life as a jukebox musical in 1999, but has bloomed far beyond Broadway, the West End and 65 million theatre-goers – notably being adapted into a movie that hit cinemas in 2008.

With Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Meryl Streep in the lead roles, the film has proved as big a draw as its stage predecessor – and has sent tourists dashing to the fragment of the Aegean where the action is set. Both musical and movie take place on the fictional Greek island of “Kalokairi”, but the use of Skopelos for the latter is undisguised. Kastani Beach, on the west shore, is the primary setting, while the Agios Ioannis chapel on the north-east coast was deployed for the wedding scene.

Rock with Agios Ioannis church on Skopelos island at sunrise

The wedding scenes in the ‘Mamma Mia!’ movie were filmed at Agios Ioannis church on Skopelos

Credit: mbbirdy/E+

There is still time to organise a trip to Skopelos this summer. A seven-night stay at the five-star Skopelos Village hotel, flying from Birmingham on September 24, costs from £942 per person, including transfers from Skiathos, with Olympic Holidays (020 8492 6868;

And there will always be time to catch the musical. It has been playing in London since its premiere (pandemic interruptions notwithstanding), having taken up residence at the Novello Theatre in 2012. Tickets from £17.50 (


When a film claws in more than £440 million on a budget of less than a 10th of that sum, the idea is always likely to be reheated. So it proved with 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – even if this meant a second helping of Brosnan’s singing (a noise described in one review of the original as akin to “a wounded raccoon”). Both a prequel and sequel to the 2008 showstopper, the newcomer digs up a few Abba tunes not used first time round (Fernando; Knowing Me, Knowing You) –and heads for the Adriatic. While the plot is still tied to “Kalokairi”, this time the Croatian island of Vis stands front and centre – in the west-coast town of Komiza and its Jastozera taverna, and the church of St Jeronima, on the harbour in Vis Town. A seven-night half-board stay at the adjacent, three-star Hotel Issa, costs from £315 per person, with Love Holidays (020 3897 1164; 

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