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England’s second-largest city is an industrial hub surrounded by some of the most spectacularly beautiful countryside in the nation. Fly to Birmingham and discover a friendly city that embraces both the past and the future.
Birmingham was widely known as the "City of 1000 Trades" and the "Workshop of the World" during the Victorian era. Today it is a thriving, multi-cultural metropolis that offers outstanding food, retail and cultural opportunities.
In Birmingham you will find a number of well-preserved, unusual historical attractions, such as the Jacobean Aston Hall. For a truly spectacular experience, visit this mansion during the winter festivities, when it is lit by hundreds of candles.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is an excellent exhibition space, boasting the world’s most extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite artwork. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, part of the University of Birmingham, displays work of great artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin and Botticelli.
Birmingham remains an industrial city, and that heritage is celebrated in preserved water mills such as Sarehole Mill. The city is also the national centre of the silversmith profession. The Jewellery Quarter is still full of highly talented silversmiths and goldsmiths carrying on the tradition.
At the other end of the spectrum is Cadbury World, which celebrates the history of chocolate confectionery in the city. No trip to Birmingham is complete without a tour of the factory – with the bonus of some deliciously indulgent samples.
Birmingham, like many of the Midlands’ industrial cities, was founded on its canals, which have been restored in many parts of the city. Today, Birmingham has a reputation for having more miles of canals than Venice. The canals are popular among kayakers and boaters, while also providing “green corridors” through the heart of the city. They are perfect for lazy afternoon strolls or cycle rides.
If you’re a film buff, make sure to visit the Electric Cinema in Station Street, which is the oldest cinema in the UK. Here, film-lovers can watch some of the latest arthouse cinema in Art Deco surroundings. Relax in ultimate comfort, thanks to the cinema’s waiter service, comfortable sofas and sophisticated ambience.
One of the UK’s largest exhibition spaces, the National Exhibition Centre, is close to the Birmingham city centre. It hosts everything from high-tech shows to motoring events, all year round. The neighbouring NEC Arena is home to countless sporting events.
No matter when you travel to Birmingham, you will find plenty of entertainment on offer, from numerous live music concerts to world-class theatres and sports tournaments. For cricket fans, the Edgbaston Cricket Club, a venue of international importance for test matches and one-day events, is a must-see.
While it has an outstanding selection of Indian and Asian food outlets, Birmingham is perhaps most famous for being the home of the “Balti Triangle”. Balti – a curry dish cooked and served in a thin steel bowl – was, contrary to popular belief, invented in Birmingham in the 1970s, and not imported from India. For authentic Balti, head for Ladypool Road and Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, which is about two miles south of the city centre.
Elsewhere, you can find every type of culinary choice imaginable, from Vietnamese to Sudanese, Thai and modern fusion. There are also plenty of fast food outlets for you to choose from.
If you are travelling to Birmingham for some retail therapy, then you’ll be pleased to find its shopping offerings are second only to central London.
The famous Bullring shopping centre draws most shoppers. You can also seek out the smaller centres such as Pavillions, The Mailbox and the Pallasades (The Mall), located directly above New Street Station.
The principal shopping streets are New Street, High Street and Corporation Street. The Jewellery Quarter, to the north of the city centre, specialises in accessories, with many independent retailers.
Essential facts about Birmingham
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip