Free admission at Swedish museums
When the culture budget was passed in Swedish parliament last year, it was decided that 18 state museums would annually share 80 million kronor ($9.4 million) to allow free admission. "We do it to open our heritage, we own these combined taxes together. To make them available is an important step," said Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke. As of January 1, 2016, each of the 18 museums now has its share of the money, and on February 1 they will open their doors free of charge for all. "If there are special reasons (temporary exhibitions, for example), museums are allowed to charge fees to people over 19 years of age. Children and young people should always have free admission to all," said Kuhnke. The financial contribution for each museum will vary based on the estimated loss of revenue resulting from abolishing entrance fees. The Modern Art Museum in Stockholm, the third most visited museum in Sweden (the top is Skansen, followed by the Vasa Museum), may be the hardest hit for it had among the highest entrance fees but museum directors are hopeful the change will allow first-time visitors to increase their attendance by 100,000; of course their special exhibits continue to have paid entry. There are 13 museums with free admission in Stockholm, and one each in Linköping, Karlskrona, Malmö, Håbo and Göteborg.

Swedish market is 411 years cold
It won’t be long before the 2016 Jokkmokk Winter Market will be held — for the 411th consecutive year. On the first weekend in February, every year since 1605, the Jokkmokk market is held in northern Sweden, about two hours north of Luleå in Lapland. It’s cold. February temperatures average 5-10˚F. But 400 years ago February was a necessary time for trading. The Sami people met to trade goods, taking advantage of the opportunity to gather and socialize as well. Eventually the government caught on and were curious about exacting more taxes on the trading, so planners kept the market during the coldest time of the year — the most undesirable time for the law makers to travel so far north. And so this particular weekend has remained a tradition. Visitors can roam the market stalls for knick-knacks, balloons, novelty items and sweets as well as beautiful Sami handicrafts and art.

Go to southern Sweden for best Nordic food
The 2016 New York Times list of places to visit includes a spot they identify as Nordic cuisine’s next big thing: Skåne, Sweden. The NYT article promotes the "almost mythologically Swedish … coastline, mushroom-filled forests and red wooden houses" of the southern Sweden area, where farm-to-table food preparation has been gaining popularity. They name Horte Brygga for serving fresh, simple seafood right on the shore, and Talldungen, a country hotel and restaurant whose chefs creatively and expertly make use of their on-site garden and bakery. "But the real stunner is the 25-seat Daniel Berlin Krog. The namesake young chef hunts most of the game he serves and grows many of the vegetables; but his sophisticated, deeply layered cooking is more world-class than rustic." For more on Skåne’s food culture and the other 51 must-see places to visit in 2016, see