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102 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello! In an effort to better inform the people of this forum about the delights that our fair city of Birmingham has to offer the visitor, I have started this thread. To those who know what's on offer in the city I ask you to contribute but try and stick it all in a single post (and edit it) so the thread stays fairly compact. If it works then maybe it can be made sticky and be a first port of call for people coming here, if not then I'll never show my face in these parts again! Cheers my friends. :)

As good a starting point as any for an overview of Birmingham is found here at the WikiPedia.

However, I'm a total music obsessive, so I'll start things off with my musical recomendations, though please add to these as I don't get the chance to go out in Brum as much as I used to:

Gigs (Indie, rock etc)
Birmingham Academy : Featuring two rooms; the main one supporting 2700 people and the smaller Academy 2 which takes 400/600 this is one of the main venues for touring bands. There is also the Bar Academy next door which does small gigs (approx 300 people) for local and up and coming groups.
The venues also play host to a number of indie related club nights.

Flapper and Firkin
Yes, yes, yes, it's a Firkin, but it's been at the heart of the Birmingham indie scene for years and plays host to up and coming local bands. Gigs are played downstairs and it has the advantage of a canalside setting which is great in hot weather. However, it's off the beaten track a bit, hidden down a lane by a big tower block. Follow the link and it has a map!

The Jug Of Ale
Off in Brum's very own arty farty district of Moseley, this is another stalwart of local bands (it being the birthplace for a number of bands - the most famous being Ocean Colour Scene). Wednesday is a bargain at a quid entry and you get a DJ and live bands. Bit rough around the edges though.

The Glee Club
Originally a comedy club it is now also a lively gig venue with touring singer/songwriters.

The Medicine [email protected] Custard Factory, Digbeth
Still the coolest bar in the city and the centre point for all your alternative dance music needs. A number of local collectives host nights here and in the summer months the 'lake' is drained and mini festivals are held.
The Custard Factory complex is a fantastic mix of creative/media type enterprises/shops. Nearby is one of the UK's finest nightclubs Air, owned by world famous promoters Godskitchen.


Symphony Hall is recognised as one of the world's finest concert halls with a very busy schedule of some 270 events a year. It's pretty non-descript on the outside but from the lovely attrium of the ICC which serves as a link to Brindleyplace the hall itself is fabulous.

Regular performers at Symphony Hall are the CBSO who are internationally renowned (thanks in a large part to the work of previous conductor Sir Simon Rattle). They also perform at their own purpose built venue, the CBSO Centre.

Another place to catch classical performances is The Adrian Boult Hall, part of the Birmingham Conservatoire and located next to the library in the city centre. It's a pretty ugly building though!

Best to divide the city centre up:

Broad Street The infamous strip of lively bars and clubs with a strip joint and casino to top it off. This is the prime destination for simple, drunken fun though getting a taxi at the end of the night may involve a fight. I tend to avoid if I can but places of note are the smart Living Room at the Symphony Hall end, RSVP is at the other end and my friends swear by it for pulling potential (I'm married ;) ), Jongleurs comedy club is in the middle and on the opposite side in what looks like an old church is Flares 70s disco. Stag/Hen nights really can't go wrong ending up here.

Brindleyplace Tends to be slightly more grown-up than nearby Broad St. (All Bar One for example). Nicely cosmopolitan in the summer. Some upmarket restaurants around too such as The Bank, Le Petit Blanc and Thai Edge. The tapas bar which is located in the Ikon Gallery is supposed to be very good.

A walk along the canal and you end up at
The Mailbox which offers more canalside bars and restaurants including the renowned restaurant Paris. You've also got tapas, sushi, indian, mexican ... The Days Inn hotel is here so might be a good base.

Chinese/Gay Quarter Centred around the Arcadian this is the slightly more cosmopolitan area for drinkers though it is still lively. The Green Room is more laid back however if you want more of a chill. There's some big clubs nearby too and often those heading off for Air in Digbeth will start here.

Irish Quarter/Digbeth Lots of pubs, not much glamour. Brum's oldest pub is situated on the high street here (name escapes me). For the trendy set though, seek out The Custard Factory where you'll find the ever popular Medicine Bar (see the bit above).

City Centre Not much here but a couple of good ones, though they may be quiet in the evening due to their location: The Old Joint Stock is located by St Philips catherdral and is a good looker inside. Full of suits though. Bachus is a subterranean bar underneath The Burlington hotel (I think). Find Waterstones near the pallasades entry ramp and there's a arcade to the right of it with a staircase leading down.

St Paul's Square Gorgeous square surrounded with a number of bars and restaurants. Haven't been here in a good while though.


102 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Cultural Stuff


Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Great building and free entrance (donation aside) so what more could you ask for? A must see is the Edwardian Tea Room. The gallery is home to one of the world's greatest collections of pre-Raphaelite paintings. There's the traditional museum stuff and touring exhibitions. Entrance is off Chamberlain Square.

The Water Hall Gallery Of Modern Art is located below the BM&AG.

The Ikon Gallery is housed in the neo-gothic Oozells Street School by Brindleyplace and plays host to temporary exhibitions of modern art. It also has a great tapas cafe/bar.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is located on the University Of Birmingham campus and features a fine collection of European art from the 13th to the 20th century. It also has a small concert hall. If you take a trip here then take a chance to look around the Uni campus and see the wonderful clock tower and Aston Webb buildings.

Birmingham's Back to Backs - this recently opened living museum are the last example of this style of housing in Britain. Located near the Hippodrome and Chinese Quarter, there's a bit of info here.

Thinktank: Science Museum Relocated to a brand new building as Birmingham's Millennium project it will eventually be one of the focal points of the Eastside regeneration project. It's an interactive look at science with a focus on Brum. Apparently. I've never been.

Museum of The Jewellery Quarter features a look at an old workshop at the heart of the quarter, which is home to a large number of jewellers. This site details a walk to take it all in.


Birmingham Rep
The place to see newly commisioned plays in one of the two theatres (seating 850 in the main and 150 in the Door studio theatre). Situated on Centenary Square right by the ICC. It is also home to the REP theatre company and has helped launch the careers of various actors and directors.

Birmingham Hippodrome
Home to the acclaimed Birmingham Royal Ballet it also plays host to a large number of touring theatre productions and groups such as the Welsh National Opera. Recently renovated with an impressive glass facade the Hippodrome is situated in the Chinese Quarter just off Hurst Street.

The Alexandra Theatre
Plays host to a number of popular touring musicals and theatre productions throughout the year and also the occasional concert/gig. Located near to the Mailbox and the new Beetham Tower on Suffolk Street Queensway.

The Crescent Theatre
A small company located in Brindleyplace with a 340 seat theatre which also hosts other companies and a variety of productions throughout the year.

The Old Rep
An old grade-II listed building on station street built in 1913 (the first in Britain to be dedicated to reporatory productions) and the inspiration for actors such as Noel Coward and Laurence Olivier, this is now the home of The Birmingham Stage Company having re-opened in 1992.

The Midlands Art Centre
Located in Cannon Hill Park next to Edgbaston County Cricket Club it's looking a bit tired around the edges but still sees 1/2 a million visitors a year. Not only has a theatre but also galleries and hosts it's very own world music festival (Sounds in the Round). There are currently plans to renovate and add a new theatre to modernise the centre.


No modern city is complete with a full compliment of festivals to keep the locals happy.

The largest free arts festival in the UK held over a September weekend and a showcase for Birmingham's cultural attractions. Expect to see acts as diverse as the Birmingham Royal Ballet, local rock bands and club nights such as House of God at numerous venues and on stages in Centenary and Victoria square.

St Patrick's Day Parade
With over a hundred thousand spectators this is the third largest parade in the world, snaking through the delights of Brum's very own Irish Quarter in Digbeth.

Jazz Festival
Great because it's largely free, with performances at numerous venues across the city, and plenty in the open air to really bring the city to life.

Brummie Angeleno
15,773 Posts
The Mailbox
Also housed in the Mailbox, is the very stylish Malmaison Hotel whose bar / lounge has been voted one of the best 100 bars in the world.

City Centre
On Colmore Row near to St Philips Cathedral stands 110 - a combination of bar / restaurant, Cigar Room and Members Rooftop club. Down from here on Newhall St is Bar Chi, a 4 storey labyrinth of bars, lounges and again, a top floor "private" club for the most discerning of us!

St Paul's Square
There are also some nice bars connecting St Paul's Square with the city centre, namely The Mongolian and Tarnished Halo.

Other art galleries:

Halcyon Gallery
Housed in the ICC, this gallery shows month-long exhibition, and at the moment is showing a great collection from L. S. Lowry.

The Gas Hall
Part of BMAG and opposite Water Hall is this fee-charging (£5 usually) gallery and is now showing a fabulous collection of 50s and 60s Brit Pop Art featuring David Hockney et al.

Kebab Licker
3,195 Posts
magicrealist said:
Don't know if this helps but the Itchy City guys have quite a good site for Brum:

Haven't been to Brum for a while, but please tell me the Shakespeare is still alive and kicking! Used to serve a fine pint of Bass in my day...
Which one? The one out of town a bit or the one off New Street? If the one off New Street, it's still there, but it's gone shit. Been all tarted up to appeal to the trendy types, and they've banned smoking! Disgraceful really.

I'll edit this post later and add my contribution to the list.

302 Posts
Blunther said:
Which one? The one out of town a bit or the one off New Street? If the one off New Street, it's still there, but it's gone shit. Been all tarted up to appeal to the trendy types, and they've banned smoking! Disgraceful really.

I'll edit this post later and add my contribution to the list.
The one next to New Street, down the ramp. No smoking!!! Blimey, I'd never thought I'd see the day that the Shakespeare appealed to trendy types! Used to be a great place to stop off for a quick pint or three after work. Always was full of interesting characters, but I guess not any longer :(

It's almost asking too much to expect the Midland Hotel bar (round the corner if memory serves me right) still to be serving real ale, ah?

Brummie Angeleno
15,773 Posts
Used to be the V&A bar upstairs and split between lounge and real ale bar downstairs way back. All gone i'm afraid. Travesty! Now trendy but very oppulent bar called Bacchus. All the quaffers from old Real Ale bar are now spread around the old pubs.
This is a difficult thread to keep to few comments, unless Woody deletes ours and updates Doyles.
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