Sharing thoughts on Birmingham
Birmingham is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the UK, this mix and blend of cultures means that whether you’re looking for something to watch, see or eat, there are endless choices here in our wonderful City. There are so many places to visit and things to do that aren’t so well known, so if you’re looking for something different to try, here are a few suggestions:
For those interested in Art and Culture, a trip to 'Ikon' an internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue located in the centre of Birmingham, is the place to visit. Housed in a magnificent neo-gothic school building, it is an educational charity and works to encourage public engagement with contemporary art through exhibiting new work in a context of debate and participation. The gallery programme features artists from around the world. A variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation and entry is free to all – donations are greatly received.
Fiona Banner, Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling Installation, Ikon Gallery, 2015. Photo: Stuart Whipps, courtesy the artist and Ikon.
If you’re after some ‘world class’ entertainment right on your doorstep, then a visit to the Symphony Hall to hear the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is a must. Here you’ll be able to hear a orchestra which has grown into a 90 piece ensemble since Sir Edward Elgar conducted the inaugural concert in 1920.
An orchestra with a worldwide reputation – but one rooted firmly in the City of Birmingham, the CBSO performs the full symphonic repertoire, from Mozart and Bach to full-scale concert performances of major operas. These performances take place in the magnificent surroundings of the Symphony Hall – a venue which has been acclaimed as one of the finest concert halls in the world by critics, performers and public alike.
The renowned acoustics of the Hall have attracted virtually every established musical figure on the world stage, and have also enabled the CBSO to record many award-winning discs there.
The CBSO has an international reputation as a champion of contemporary music; while popular Friday night concerts of light music and family concerts aimed at all age groups bring world-class music making to the whole community.
Witnessing a world class orchestra perform in one of the best concert halls in the world is an opportunity not to be missed.
The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre is one of, if not the busiest theatre in the UK, hosting a range of performances from Musicals to Pantomime, drama, dance opera and comedy, and is of course the home of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Whether you fancy a singing along to classics like Mama Mia or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or seeing fantastic choreography in the spectacular Jesus Christ Superstar, belting out ballads from the Bodyguard or laughing along to a pantomime like Aladdin, then the Hippodrome should be your first choice for a night of entertainment and fun.
Mary Poppins by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh. Photo: Deen Van Meer, courtesy Birmingham Hippodrome.
But before you take your seat a meal in the onsite 'Circle Restaurant' is the perfect place to start your night. Recently awarded an AA Rosette Award this stylish Restaurant offers a relaxing dining experience with tempting modern menus. The menus vary by show and the chefs take advantage of seasonal produce to ensure the menu has the freshest in season ingredients, and with an extensive wine list you’re sure to find a delicious wine to accompany your pre theatre meal.
Enjoy fine dining at the Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant. Photo: courtesy Birmingham Hippodrome
Like many of the hit shows in the West End and Broadway performances are often delivered by an outstanding cast supported by a first class band. Over the years shows such as Stomp, Phantom of the Opera, the Lion King, Singin’ in the Rain and Fiddler on the Roof have wowed and excited audiences. So be sure to check out the latest listings to find out if there’s a show for you!
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the three major ballet companies of the UK, alongside The Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet.
Formed in 1990, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) is welcomed enthusiastically around the world. The Company has completed numerous successful tours, including to the USA, China, Japan and South Africa, and continues to build its international profile.
Performing in the Birmingham Hippodrome, BRB deliver spectacular performances of some of the most well-known ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. If the name of a classic such as ‘Avant Garde’ leaves you feeling a little puzzled, why not go and see a performance of a comedy based ballet such as the 5 star rated Hobson’s Choice which could be a light hearted introduction to ballet. If you fancy something a little more serious then there are a number of tragedy and abstraction based performances in their repertoire – demonstrating the broad and adventurous offering of BRB.
Swan Lake is sure to leave you wowed. Image courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet
Ballet isn’t just for adults though, like many of the other places here in Birmingham, BRB welcome and indeed encourage children and young people to get involved. If you’ve got young people with you, why not go along to one of the Saturday matinees with a Family Fun Day running alongside. These include craft sessions, a make-up demonstration and a chance to see the stage being set for the matinee – giving you a sneak peek ahead of the main event!
The Jewellery Quarter
If you’ve not heard of our world famous 'Jewellery Quarter' then where have you been?! located a short distance away from the city centre this area of unique character has been described by English Heritage as a ‘national treasure’ and as having a ‘particular combination of structures associated with jewellery and metalworking which does not seem to exist anywhere else in the world’. Here you’ll find a host of jewellery shops selling the very best diamonds and metals. With a huge range of shops there’s something for everyone’s budget, and you can even have bespoke pieces made. There’s more than just shops though, you’ll also find the Museum of the Jewelley Quarter here which tells the story of jewellery production in Birmingham over the last 200 years as well as exploring the Jewellery Quarter as it is today. The temporary exhibition space also provides a programme of workshops and events for all the family.
If you’re a creative mind then Birmingham’s Custard Factory is well worth a visit. The Custard Factory is set in 15 acres of beautifully renovated riverside factories, built more than 100 years ago by Alfred Bird to manufacture and market his famous invention, eggless Custard. At one time he had a thousand people making the stuff and was exporting it across the globe. Rejuvenated in the early 1990’s it’s described as Birmingham’s very own version of Carnaby Street and Shoreditch all rolled into one.
Custard Factory, home to Birmingham’s creative quarter.
The Custard Factory is located in Digbeth, a short distance from the city centre and proudly boasts being the revolutionary arts and media quarter in the Midlands, plus a massively vibrant creative and retail hub. It truly is one of the coolest independent shopping and leisure areas in the entire region. There’s always a lot happening from Vintage Fairs to Street Food Festivals so it’s well worth checking out.
The Balti Triangle
Birmingham is the home of the ‘Balti’, now world renowned and served in restaurants all over the world, not many people realise it actually originated here. There is a dedicated area within Birmingham known as 'the Balti Traingle' here you’ll find a range of different Asian restaurants each with a different twist on the famous dish, whether it be from a Pakistani, Indian, or Bangladeshi chef check out this renowned area of the city where you’re sure to find a dish to suit your palette.
Birmingham, the home of the ‘Balti’
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