Birmingham’s vast and diverse cultural heritage means it thrives as one of the UK’s major centres for arts and entertainment.
Housing the most important collection of Pre-Raphaelite art anywhere in the world, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of the UK’s must-visit destinations for art lovers. Hugely popular with both Birmingham natives and tourists alike, it is listed as one of the top 50 destinations to visit in the country.
The museum is far more than just an exhibition space too – encouraging the public to participate with activities from talks and discussions to events such as ‘Snap that Tatt’, which encouraged visitors to take photos of their tattoos and share the stories behind them.
Embracing all art forms, old and new, the museum has a frequently changing set of temporary displays including virtual reality artworks and behind the scenes tours.
More information about what’s on at The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery can be found here.
Birmingham is famous for being the heartland of the UK’s pudding and confectionery industry, but unlike the other must-see, Cadbury World (see below), The Custard Factory is no longer in operation.
Happily though, The Custard Factory is now a hive of cultural activity on a huge, 15-acre plot, serving up arts and entertainment to the whole city. The area plays host to a theatre, art galleries, TV studios, creative businesses and boutique shops. It’s also known for putting on festivals and concerts in a more intimate atmosphere than the larger NEC stadium (also see below).
To find out more about what there is to see and do in The Custard Factory, look here.
Europe’s largest public library, the Library of Birmingham only opened its doors in 2013. It holds the city’s internationally important archives including the BFI Mediatheque – with free access to the UK’s National Film Archive.
One of its most popular collections is Shakespeare @ The Library, one of the world’s best collections of works by and about William Shakespeare. But there are collections to suit every taste from railway memorabilia to galleries showing how children lived their lives over a hundred years ago.
It’s hard to miss the building from viewpoints across the city (as it looks like a giant wedding cake), and it is also very easy to reach via public transport.
To find out more about what’s on at the library as well as special openings, visit this website.
There is no shortage of multiplexes showing the latest releases across the country but The Electric Cinema is a special experience. It is the UK’s oldest working cinema, opened in 1909 showing silent movies with a piano soundtrack.
Fast-forward to today and the cinema still shows a range of lesser known productions as well as classics, both modern and vintage. Of course, it also has the latest blockbusters. The atmosphere remains unique with viewing in comfort from sofas, a bar and at-seat waiter service.
Find out more about the latest listings at The Electric Cinema here
With a base at the Birmingham Hippodrome, the Birmingham Royal Ballet is the UK’s premier touring ballet company. With 60 dancers drawn from all over the globe, it aims to be one of the world’s best classical ballet companies. Older ballet fans may recognise it from its former name as The Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet.
To find out if the Birmingham Royal Ballet is performing at the Hippodrome or on tour, check out the performance calendar here.
An absolute must for all chocolate lovers, the Cadbury factory is a fully working chocolate production line where visitors can see their favourite brands being made. There’s even a chance to create your own.
The tour itself takes a good three hours and is a real family event with plenty to keep children of all ages entertained. Throughout the year there are special events including visits from well-known characters on kids’ TV.
Click here to find out more about the full Cadbury experience.
The National Exhibition Centre, more usually known as the NEC, is one of the top large-scale concert and exhibition venues in the UK. It hosts everything from niche trade events to international rock stars and everything in between.
Big name events are just one of the attractions at the NEC which is also home to Resorts World Birmingham, a complex of cinemas, shops and restaurants worth visiting even without a ticket to a show. If you haven’t planned a visit to a particular event, it is always worth checking to see what’s on in case of ticket returns. You might just bag a ticket to a hot show on the day!