Guides

Arts and Culture in Birmingham

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Offering everything from genre-defining heavy rock history, to breathless, spinning ballet performances and Egyptian mummy exhibitions, Birmingham is a city brimming with cultural distractions. It may be England’s second city, but the entertainment on offer here is first class, with spectacular venues thrusting you right into the heart of the action.

 

Museums

 

A visit to Cadbury World chocolate factory always leaves a sweet taste, and the unique Pen Museum is a surprising hit - giving you the chance to fashion your own nib, and learn some swooping calligraphy. Meanwhile, simply walking next to the rusty-red warehouses and chimneys, which reflect in the canal water of the Gas Street Basin, is like admiring an exhibition in honour of the city’s industrial heritage.

 

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

 

Visit this vast museum to learn about the fascinating, recent history of the Staffordshire Hoard - a treasure trove of gold Anglo-Saxon artefacts, which were discovered by a local man armed with a metal detector. You can also tour the impressive art gallery - its massive collection of ravishing Pre-Raphaelite works is believed to be the world’s biggest.

 

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH. Tel: +44 0 121 348 8007

 

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery website

 

Music

 

With an extraordinary musical heritage that will strike a chord with every generation, Birmingham is great place to experience the thrill of a live performance. Well, what else would you expect from the city that gave us rock gods like Ozzy Osbourne and half of Led Zeppelin?

 

LG Arena

 

You’ll find the hottest new bands strumming their hearts out in Birmingham’s claustrophobic, underground venues, but it’s always worth checking the LG Arena’s schedules, as it plays host to some of the world’s biggest and best. With capacity for thousands upon thousands of screaming fans, it sets the stage for rockers and pop stars alike.

 

Perimeter Road, Birmingham B40 1NT . Tel: +44 0 121 780 4141

 

LG Arena website

 

The Symphony Hall

 

You’ll feel the hairs standing tall on your neck as the throb of a double bass, tinkle of a piano and throaty sigh of a flute fill every inch of this stunning concert hall. A specially engineered reverberation chamber gives the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s sound an extra oomph and clarity, with its acoustic treatment helping the music to swell, organically adding an extra 50% to the volume. The Town Hall, and its organ which dates back to 1834, is also right next door.

 

Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA. Tel: +44 0 121 780 3333

 

The Symphony Hall website

 

Performing arts

 

The Bard himself was born less than an hour from Birmingham, in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the city follows in Shakespeare's footsteps, staging great shows all year round.

 

Birmingham Hippodrome

 

Whether you’re watching a West End musical - guaranteed to get everyone singing along - or an edge of the seat tale of Shakespearean betrayal and heartbreak, this magnificent venue keeps the arts alive and kicking in Birmingham. Over half a million people flock to it each year, making it one of the UK’s busiest theatres. It’s also home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet whose dancers sweep gracefully across every inch of its stage in a blur of movement and electrifying rhythm.

 

Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4TB. Tel: +44 0 844 338 5000

 

Birmingham Hippodrome website

 

Landmarks

 

The domed roof of St. Philip’s Baroque-style Cathedral sits atop one of the UK’s smallest cathedrals. It makes up for its small size with plenty of charm, however, and is just one of the city’s many peaceful religious buildings. Here's another worth checking out…

 

St. Martin in the Bull Ring

 

Nowhere is Birmingham’s collision of new and old more apparent than at the Bull Ring. St Martin’s church stands resolutely in place, and is a striking Victorian neighbour to the spaceship-like shopping centre that’s risen beside it. Don’t miss the Edward Burne-Jones designed stain glass window, which was fortunately taken down during the Second World War, before a bombing raid smashed the church's windows.

 

Edgbaston Street, Birmingham B5 5BB. Tel: +44 0 121 6006020

 

St. Martin in the Bull Ring website