When you chose to come and study in Birmingham, you chose well my friend. Birmingham is the UK’s second city, and there’s something here for absolutely everyone. Yes, even you, Dave.
Museums and art galleries, shops, parks, sport, comedy, theatre, cinema, books, great food – we’ve got it all. We’ve pulled together a list of 10 things you can do in Birmingham. So, block out some dates in your diary, grab a pal or two, and get exploring.
The Electric Cinema
Birmingham is a great city for films. In fact, we’ve got more cinemas than you could shake a stick at. Our favourite one though has to be The Electric, which is just a short walk from New Street. Fun fact: The Electric is the oldest working cinema in the country, and showed its first film in 1909 (save that nugget of information – you never know when you might need it for a pub quiz). Enjoy a film in this quirky venue and relax with comfy sofas, table service, and an art deco bar.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
In the heart of the city, you’ll find the world-class Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. There’s a lot to see here, with over forty galleries displaying art, history, archaeology and ethnography. As well as permanent exhibitions, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery also host a series of changing exhibitions throughout the year. Current exhibitions include ‘Home of Metal presents Black Sabbath’, ‘Collecting Birmingham: Who is Birmingham?’ and ‘Thoughts on portraiture’. While you’re there, make sure you enjoy a cake and a cuppa in the beautifully renovated Edwardian Tearooms. It’s free to enter, but you might need to pay to see some specific exhibitions.
Cannon Hill Park
You might think of Birmingham as a busy city full of hustle and bustle. Well, you’d be right. But it also boasts a surprising amount of green space where you can get away from it all. Seventeen of our parks even have Green Flag awards, which essentially means they’re fan-flippin-tastic parks. Cannon Hill Park is one of them. Take a stroll along the river, cycle through the woodland, feast on a picnic or have lunch at the café, play a round of mini-golf, enjoy a trip on the lake in a pedal boat, beat your friend at a game of tennis, and admire the wildflowers.
Escape Live Birmingham
Nothing tests the limits of a friendship quite like trying to solve puzzles in order to escape a locked room within sixty minutes. While the clock’s ticking, you’ll need to work together to crack codes, solve puzzles, and unlock the mystery. Escape Live Birmingham gives you the choice of five rooms to escape from: Dr Wilson’s Office, Room 13, The Lab, Time Machine, or the new Peaky Blinders. Gather a team, choose your room, and enjoy the adventure!
BBC Birmingham Tours
Step inside the exciting world of broadcasting with an award-winning tour of BBC Birmingham. Explore what goes on behind the scenes of BBC TV and radio stations, including Midlands Today and BBC West Midlands. If that doesn’t sound amazing enough, you can even have a go at making your very own radio play. Tours run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30am and 1pm and last approximately ninety minutes. Book your ticket the day before you’d like to go.
Glee Club Birmingham
Glee Club Birmingham is a comedy club and music venue guaranteed to give you a good night. Spend an evening here and enjoy stand-up, live music and delicious food. Comedy Carousel is on the menu every Thursday night and brings you a fast-paced show with stand-up comedians and a big screen showcasing the best bits from the internet. On Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll be laughing at the regular 18+ comedy nights as four stand-up comedians treat you to some giggles. Go on a Sunday and you’ll be able to witness ‘Box of Frogs’, Birmingham’s premiere improvisation group. On top of the regular events, you can also enjoy special shows such as ‘Speaky Blinders’ and ‘Bob’s Comedy Funhouse.’
Journey into J.R.R Tolkien’s world of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings on Birmingham’s Tolkien Trail. The legendary writer moved to Birmingham from South Africa when he was a young boy, and many of the local areas he spent time in are believed to have inspired scenes in his books. Yep, pretty cool. Visit the hamlet of Sarehole and Sarehole Mill, believed to be the inspiration for ‘The Shire,’ and ‘The Great Mill’ in The Hobbit. Stroll through Moseley Bog, which the mysterious ‘Old Forest’ on the border of The Shire was modelled on. Next up, visit The Shire Country Park, which was named in honour of Tolkien. Enjoy the scenery and look out for kingfishers, woodpeckers, foxes, water voles and bats.
Download the full trial here.
Think Tank is Birmingham’s award-winning science museum, and you need to pop it on your Visit List immediately. Highlights include the story behind the spitfire, the skeleton of a sea giant that was alive at the same time as the dinosaurs, the oldest working steam engine in the world, and more than twenty interactive exhibits that show how and why Birmingham became known as ‘the workshop of the world’. While you’re there, you should definitely check out the Planetarium, where you can explore space, enjoy constellations, and journey through the solar system. Tickets are £14 on the door, or £13 if you book online. Planetarium shows are £2.50 on top of general admission.
Library of Birmingham
The stunning Library of Birmingham is not to be missed. It’s an architectural wonder. There are lots to explore, including a wood-panelled Shakespeare Memorial Room on the top floor, landscaped gardens (including a secret one – see if you can find it), amazing views across the city, plus, of course – the books. It’s enough to rival any other library! There’s also a gift shop and a café, so you can pick up a memento and enjoy a coffee in this magnificent building.
If you like shopping, Birmingham is a cracking city to be in. We’ve got the Bullring and Grand Central, which boast over 200 shops including John Lewis and Selfridges; Mailbox, a stylish shopping centre including Harvey Nicholls and Paul Smith, and the Jewellery Quarter, where you can visit over 100 independent specialist retailers.