Thursday, March 15, 2012

What’s new for Sweden in 2012?

March 2012 – Whether a foodie who wants to enjoy Sweden’s new innovative culinary scene, a culture vulture heading straight for the art and design hotspots or a nature lover looking for the great outdoors, Sweden has something for everyone. Here is Visit Sweden’s round-up of the hugely varied country’s best news for 2012:

Arts and literature
This year, Stockholm continues to demonstrate its arts and design prowess with two new centres for art opening within a month of each other in Stockholm. The first will be the Absolut Art Collection, featuring works by modern greats including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, and opening on Djurgården in May . The second is a new arts and culture centre called Artipelag, which is opening on the island of Värmdö in the archipelago in June. Swedish architect Johan Nyrén has designed Artipelag to purposefully sit in harmony with the archipelago and it will house an exhibition hall, concert and event facilities and a conference centre. 

With Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell leading the field, we start 2012 with Swedish crime writing at the top of its game. Camilla Läckberg is the latest top-selling Swedish author, writing crime fiction tales about the dreamy fishing village in West Sweden where she grew up, Fjällbacka. There are currently only five of her novels available in English, but more are being launched this year to an expected fanfare of publicity. Sunvil Discovery is offering a new seven night ‘Archipelago and Culinary Tour’ which takes in both Fjällbacka and Gothenburg, from £1,046pp including car hire, flights and day trips to the Weather and Koster Islands.

2012 also marks the centenary of the death of Swedish author, August Strindberg, who is the most eminent Swedish author and playwright of all times, known in the UK for works including ‘Miss Julie’ and ‘Master Olof’. The anniversary will be celebrated in Stockholm throughout the year, with exhibitions, seminars, stage plays and other cultural events.

Unusual but exciting is how we’d describe a two-day wolf-howling holiday! From June to September, visitors to Grimsö, near Örebro in mid-Sweden, approximately 200km west of Stockholm, can enjoy a new two day trip from Wild Sweden, tracking the wolves under expert guidance, finding out more about their lifestyle and even howling along with them. The tour includes dinner oven an open fire and a night sleeping out in the middle of wolf territory. A two day tour starts from SEK 2,450 (£236 per person).

Considered the greenest destination in Sweden and nominated for the top Swedish Gran Travel Eco-Tourism Award for 2012, Urnatur (an eco-lodge concept close to Lake Vättern, south west of Stockholm) is offering new courses for visitors this year. There are nine fairytale lodges here, built by the owner Håkan Strotz. Each one is different – from the Russian-inspired pilgrim’s hut to the Sami dwellings with turf roofs and the magical tree houses.  The new courses include foraging for wild herbs, basic timbering, and ‘knife and fire basics’ – all you need to know about living off the land!

We may have our own Games in the summer but 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Stockholm. The Olympic Stadium (known as “Stadion” and the oldest Olympic stadium still in use) will be celebrating its jubilee with events including a special marathon on 14 July. It still looks amazing, with a real retro feel, and is lucky enough to also be hosting acts such as Coldplay and Ozzy Osbourne in its 100th year!

The world’s oldest open-air museum Skansen is also celebrating in 2012 as it will be opening a special, larger version of its children’s zoo this May. Children will get the chance to meet Nordic animals, such as wolverines, brown bears and lynx cats, in a new, specially designed environment. Whereas the zoo has previously only been open in the summer, children will now be able to visit year round and can find out how to look after their favourite animals!

Sweden is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most innovative culinary destinations and Gothenburg is leading the charge, being named the Culinary Capital of Sweden for 2012, thanks to its four Michelin stars, great seafood and local food producers. The newest face on its restaurant scene is celebrated chef Magnus Samuelsson, who has just launched Norda Bar & Grill, mixing the best of Sweden’s west coast with the pick of America’s east coast.

Stockholm is also fighting its corner, with more than 20 new restaurants having opened since last summer alone. Jonas, the brainchild of Jonas Lundgren who has spent time at the French Laundry in California and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, is a great example of this - offering creative and often challenging tasting menus  Others include Ekstedt, a concept restaurant from a Swedish TV chef where everything is cooked over an open fire and Gastrologik, which doesn’t even have a menu – the chefs will decide what to serve guests, depending on the supply of local fresh produce

The food scene in Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost region, is also really taking off and 2012 sees lots of new restaurants and food shops in the main city of Malmö. These include Raw Food House, a brand new raw food restaurant, the dishes of which contain no lactose, gluten, eggs, sugar or white flour and Chez Madame, a trendy vegan café, where everything is made from organic ingredients, that is already getting a reputation for some of the best cakes and pastries in town.

At the end of last year, Daniel Berlin also opened in Skåne Tranås and is already being tipped as the next Noma. Named after its chef owner, Daniel Berlin’s food is based on an awareness of the origin of ingredients and a respect for these raw materials. The menus are inspired by their surroundings and follow the seasons, so that the food changes its appearance as the landscape does.

For those who want a taste of Swedish culture at the same time, A Slice of Swedish Hospitality is a brand new scheme whereby a network of Malmö residents open their homes to visitors and cook them dinner. Not only do guests get to experience real Swedish home cooking but they also have the chance to find out more about the daily lives of the Swedes and discover insider tips on what to do and see locally. Starts on 15 March 2012

Alternatively, take a culinary tour of the coastal town of Helsingborg, just over the water from Helsingor, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Each Thursday, the tourist board organises a tour of central Helsingborg where visitors are guided between delicious foodie shops, tastings and cafés. The evening ends with a four-course gourmet dinner at GASTRO, which has been named the region’s best restaurant by the White Guide (Sweden’s answer to Michelin). The tour costs 1,540 SEK (approx £146) per person and also includes one night’s bed and breakfast accommodation in Helsingborg

New accommodation
Skåne also has some exciting new hotels for 2012, both opening in the pretty university town of Lund in Skåne. The first of these is Hotel Finn, which aims to be a home from home, right down to putting wheels on the furniture so that you can move it around to make the rooms feel more personal! There is also a communal living room, dining room and kitchen for the more sociable guests. A double room starts from SEK 590 (approximately £56) per night

 The other is the newest of Sweden’s luxury Elite hotels. The Elite Hotel Ideon Gateway will open this autumn in Lund’s highest building, Ideon Gateway. The super modern hotel will boast 182 rooms, a top quality restaurant, conference facilities and gym. Rates TBC

Gothenburg also has a new hotel, in the shape of the city’s listed former 1920s post office, which has been restored and extended. The Clarion Hotel Post opened at the end of January 2012 as a sleek 500-bedroom hotel and has retained its original awe-inspiring grand hall and high ceilings. New features include a chic rooftop pool and bar, a spa and the top-class Norda Bar & Grill, managed by US-based Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson. A standard double room starts from £116 per night.

Ever fancied sleeping in a Swedish red log cabin? 21 brand new log cabins have been built along the banks of peaceful Lake Skedvi in the little known region of Västmanland, about 150 km west of Stockholm, near Köping. Situated in the countryside and surrounded by forest, the cottages at Skedvistrand are perfect for those who love the great outdoors. There is the possibility of wild swimming in the lake, fishing, canoeing, biking or boating, as well as great hiking trails surrounded by berries and mushrooms for walkers and foragers. Lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of moose or otters! The cottages sleep four and are available from 7,725 SEK (£742) per week.

 Last but not least, the fabulous Treehotel near Luleå, Swedish Lapland, will be gaining a new cabin in 2012. The cabin up in the trees will feature two bedrooms and a large lounge area in the middle, making it perfect for families or two couples. Building will commence in the autumn, with the idea of completing by the end of the year. The Treehotel is an incredible mix of contemporary design set in unspoiled nature. It currently features five rooms, including a Mirror Cube and a Bird’s Nest, high in the trees, as well as a fabulous tree sauna which can accommodate eight people.

Flights and transport links
As Sweden grows as a tourist destination for the UK, more flight routes are popping up between the two countries, making it easier and cheaper to travel there. This year, Norwegian is launching a new route between London Gatwick and Gothenburg, starting on 29 March 2012, whilst Ryanair has a new flight between London Stansted and Malmö, which started at the end of last year. /
SAS also offers regular direct flights to Stockholm and Gothenburg from London Heathrow, with connecting flights to various Swedish airports including Kiruna, Luleå, Malmö, Östersund and Umeå.

To keep up to date with all the latest news from Sweden, follow @VisitSwedenUK on Twitter or go to the Visit Sweden Facebook page. Each month this spring, a local Swede will take over the social media feed, starting with Stockholm from 19 March to 20 April 2012, before going on to Malmö and then Gothenburg. The aim is that followers can find out a little more about Swedish life as well as getting insider info on the latest exhibitions, clubs and events.

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For further press information on Swedish food, please contact:
Katie Bentley-Chan, Ruth Haffenden, Sara Whines or Angela Maini at Four bgb / / /
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Steve Robertshaw
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