Draken Harald Hårfagre is in the water
Slightly ahead of schedule, the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre will set sail from Norway on April 24, retracing the route of the first transatlantic crossing of the Vikings more than 1000 years ago. Aiming to arrive in the "New World" in mid-June, Draken will head across the Atlantic Ocean via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, then stop in various ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Depending on weather conditions, the Draken crew expects to be in Toronto by July 1, Airport Harbor in Lake Eire on July 8, Bay City Tall Ships Celebration on Lake Huron July 15-17, then in Lake Michigan at Navy Pier in Chicago at the end of July and Green Bay’s Tall Ships Festival by August 5, then the Lake Superior Tall Ships Festival in Duluth on August 18-21. From there Draken will sail back through the lakes and New York canals to the Hudson River in mid-September. Draken will spend the winter in Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. www.drakenexpeditionamerica.com

Popular Scandinavian brand coming to U.S. retailer
In 1949, a small textile printing company was founded in Helsinki, Finland. The CEO’s wife envisioned bold, Nordic design for its textile line, so she gathered young artists to create striking fabric prints. It wasn’t until the fabrics were used in clothing at a 1951 fashion show that they were noticed and immediately sold, inspiring Marimekko to become a registered company within the week. In the early '60s, America’s First Lady Jackie Kennedy bought seven Marimekko dresses, throwing Marimekko into international renown. The company grew rapidly and its product range expanded to include a variety of accessories and home items. Half a century later, the global company, which is still run by women, has collaborated with American-based international brands Converse and Banana Republic — and now Target is joining the ranks: On April 17, 2016, Americans will see a new line of Marimekko’s Nordic designs in its signature collection of fashion and home products. The hallmark colors and bold prints will take over the retail giant, its collection available in stores and online through May 8, 2016, or while supplies last. Target offers this warning: The collection is expected to be popular, so its availability at any given store may quickly change.

Royal birthday celebrations in April
As we await the April birth of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia’s first child, who is King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s fifth grandchild (all were born in the last four years), the royal house is planning the jubilee celebration of the King’s 70th birthday. He was born on April 30, 1946, the fifth child and first son of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla, and was crowned king at age 27 in September 1973. Special celebrations are planned for the entire week of April 25-30, with concerts and special receptions in his honor, a new “Bernadotte Program” that highlights history of the royal family with music and the distribution of scholarships at the Royal Opera, a celebration at the Nordic Museum and a Te Deum thanksgiving service on the 30th itself. That day the Swedish Armed Forces congratulate the King with a choral tribute and the changing of the guard, and he and the Queen parade through the city in horse and carriage for a luncheon at City Hall, capping off the celebrations with a dinner banquet at the Royal Palace. Gifts, greetings and congratulations can be offered in various ways, including via social media with the official hashtag: #Kungen70

Licorice lovers unite in Stockholm
Having a passion for black licorice may be a telltale sign that a person hails from Scandinavia — the special candy flavored by anise just isn’t as popular outside the Nordic region and Europe in general. In Sweden? An entire day every week is set aside for the stuff. Well, any candy can be eaten on Saturdays, but lakrits is definitely a huge part of the lördagsgodis tradition. And for the eighth year in a row, an entire festival is given to it: the 2016 Liquorice Festival takes place on April 23-24 at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. It is the world's largest licorice party, which last year was attended by 11,000 visitors from around the world. With more than 50 exhibitors, taste experiences, voting for the best licorice product, exciting activities and new discoveries in the production of licorice, it’s a must-do event for any licorice lover.