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WHAT'S ON IN SWEDEN

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The best places to warm up in Sweden this week

It's below fffreezing across most of Sweden at the moment so here are five toasty tips for things to do over the next week as well as our regular listings.

The best places to warm up in Sweden this week
The Northern Lights are the subject of a new indoor festival this week. Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se
1. Soak up the sounds of Gothenburg
 
West Sweden boasts a surprising number of national and international stars, from indie folk songwriter Jose Gonzalez to rock groups The Knife and Spotnicks. Friday 14th January is your last chance to see the praised exhibition at the City Museum of Gothenburg, focusing on the artists and people working behind the scenes who have influenced the region's music scene. Entry is 40 kronor.
 

Come along on a historic journey through the popular music of Gothenburg. Photo: Göran Assner/imagebank.sweden.se
 
2. Watch The Swedish Theory of Love
 
Sweden's individualistic approach to romance is sparking global debates at the moment, following the release of the Swedish Theory of Love last week, which asks whether residents have gone so far in their quest for independence that they have ended up lonelier than ever. The movie is on in cinemas nationwide. It's narrated in English, with some interviews done in Swedish. Click here for screening times at the main SF movie theatre chain and don't miss The Local's interview with its director Erik Gandini.
 

The Swedish Theory of Love questions if Swedes are too independent. Photo: Fasad
 
3. Swelter in the country's most amazing sauna
 
Wherever you are in Sweden, you're never too far from a sauna (or bastu as the Swedes say) – the perfect place to warm up! One of the most spectacular saunas is in the Frihamnen area of Gothenburg. It offers incredible water views and is made almost entirely from recycled materials. Grab one of the last spots for this weekend by booking online or fix a visit later in the month. It's free!
 

Go and warm up in the probably most spectacular sauna in Sweden (Gothenburg). Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
 
4. Get an education on Lapland's northern lights 
 
The world's first ever multi-day Aurora Borealis festival is happening in Bjorkliden in Swedish Lapland from 15th – 17th January, giving visitors the chance to learn about the Northern Lights without having to step foot outdoors. Experts who study, photograph and teach about the rare phenomena will hold small workshops and lectures, with only 30 spots available for each event. The festival is free but visitors are asked to sign up in advance and give a donation of 350 kronor, which will go to the Swedish Mountain Rescue Service.
 

Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SVD/TT
 
5. Shop the sales at the Mall of Scandinavia
 
The sales (known as 'rea' in Swedish) are in full force across Sweden, so if you are struggling with the cold weather, now is the time to head inside a toasty shopping centre to hunt for a discounted jacket, gloves or even some snow boots. This is the first winter that Stockholm's brand new giant Mall of Scandinavia in Solna is open for business, after welcoming its debut customers just before Christmas. Click here for a full list of its stores, cafes and restaurants. There's a cosy cinema inside too
 
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The mall in Solna, north of Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Holmberg/TT
 
 
Check out our interactive calendar below for more things to do in Sweden

 

 

 

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How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

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