Balti, brummies and Bournville
lap bang in the middle of England, Birmingham is the beating heart of the country. And with a traceable history going back over 10,000 years, there’s plenty to uncover. The industrial revolution created unheard-of wealth in the city, and the resulting Georgian and Victorian architecture mixes perfectly with modern masterpieces to create a vibrant, brilliant city.
Arts and Culture
On the one hand the area spawned Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, UB40 and Duran Duran. On the other, it's perfect for those who like to stroke their chins in academic appreciation of the arts. Catch the next musical movement at one of the smaller venues such as The Glee Club , The Sunflower Lounge or the brilliantly-named Actress and Bishop pub. Or if you prefer established acts, see some of the world’s biggest bands in the acronym-friendly NIA (National Indoor Arena), the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), The LG Arena , the HMV Institute or the O2 Academy . And if the thought of a mosh pit leaves you in cold sweats, perhaps the Birmingham Royal Ballet , the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra , or the Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery might be more suitable?
Must See Attractions
Must-see architectural gems include Aston Hall - a Jacobean mansion with parkland - and the National Trust’s Back to Backs housing, a museum of authentic terraced housing untouched from the 1800s. Fans of J R R Tolkein might like to visit Sarehole Mill , reputedly the inspiration for Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, while lovers of authentic hot food should hit the city’s famous Balti Triangle , and St Paul's Square, home to the winner of Gordon Ramsey’s F-Word Best Local Restaurant competition from 2009: Lasan .
Birmingham’s Bullring is the strange-sounding shopping area, its name derived from the fantastically-named Peter de Birmingham, who created a cattle market (or ‘Bull Ring’) back in 1166. Today you’re more likely to find herds of fashionistas milling around the area, near to another jewel in the city’s architectural crown: the award-winning Selfridges building, designed by the aptly-named firm Future Designs. And don't forget the Frankfurt Market and Craft Fair in Victoria Square at Christmas!
Taking kids to a city which boasts both Bournville and Cadbury World is a sure-fire winner. And when the inevitable sugar rush kicks in, head to the Thinktank - a modern science museum with interactive displays of everything from Steam Engines to animal intestines: disgusting enough to entertain all inquisitive nippers. The famous Lunar Society, a band of 18th century philosophers, intellectuals and engineers would no doubt approve of Thinktank’s incredible Digital Planetarium, where a trip through the constellations will amaze even the most introspective of kids. Add in the possibility of going to Alton Towers , and the chance of being the coolest parents in the world is there for the taking.
Premier League lovers have Aston Villa , Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion to take their rattles to, as well as the world famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground - home to Warwickshire. And let's not forget that the Belfry Golf Course is the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup too. For those who prefer the hands-on approach, the incredible Cannock Chase mountain bike trails are world-class, and have bike hire facilities to match.
If you can only make one festival, make sure it’s October’s annual Birmingham Comedy Festival . It made its debut in 2001 with appearances from Peter Kay and Sean Lock and is now one of the largest independent arts festivals in the region. A-list acts that have got audiences chuckling in previous years include Lee Evans, Michael McIntrye, Frankie Boyle, Lenny Henry and Ross Noble.
Best of Birmingham...
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More about... Birmingham
visitbirmingham.com - the official tourist information visitor website for the city of Birmingham.
Things to do
From events and attractions to fine dining and nights out; discover all things to do in Birmingham.