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From Michelin starred restaurants to street food at free arts festivals; a kick-about in a leafy local park to high stakes Premiership football; one of the largest urban parks in Europe to the Arts and Crafts perfection of a quiet historic retreat. Indoors or outdoors, participate, watch or find space to get away from it all.
In 2012, Birmingham was ranked among the New York Times’ top 20 international destinations to visit. And it’s all because of its growing culinary reputation. With 27 cuisines served in 200 restaurants, the home of the world famous Balti Triangle also has more Michelin star restaurants than any other English city outside London.
• The inaugural Birmingham Food Fest saw 70,000 people descend on the city to sample its diverse gastronomy.
• Birmingham’s College of Food is training the next generation of rising stars at its world-class education and catering facilities, including MasterChef The Professionals contestant Claire Hutchins.
• Birmingham has a quintessentially British food heritage. Bird’s Custard, Cadbury’s chocolate, Bournville Drinking Chocolate, HP Sauce and Typhoo Tea all started life in the city.
Birmingham boasts the most popular theatre in the UK. Drawing visitors in with the best of the West End performances, The Hippodrome rivals London theatres. Concerts, comedies, dramas and musicals in our region impress audiences from all over the world.
• Birmingham Hippodrome is the most popular theatre in the UK with over 520,000 visitors every year.
• Birmingham has more than 500,000 works of art in one square mile and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is home to the world’s largest Pre-Raphaelite collection, including some 2000 art works.
Birmingham’s musical offering is as deep as it is wide. Venues such as the Barclaycard Arena NIA, GentingLG Arena and Symphony Hall host a wide variety of acts, from the City of Birmingham Orchestra to Electric Light Orchestra.
• Over 25 independent festivals take place in Birmingham each year, including experimental music festival Supersonic and film festival Flatpack and Artsfest, the UK’s biggest free arts festival with over 600 events.
• Over 50,000 people watch inspirational performances by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) every year, led by the world-famous Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. That’s more than any other UK orchestra.
• Birmingham’s Town Hall reopened in October 2007 following an award-winning £35m renovation providing a platform for local, national and international performers
One of the greenest cities in the UK, Birmingham has more than 600 parks and open spaces. Throughout the West Midlands, green space is in abundance.
• Birmingham has more than 10 Local Nature Reserves and 156 other locally designated nature conservation sites. The Botanical Gardens are a 15 acre oasis just minutes from the city centre.
• Sutton Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe with over 2,400 acres of parkland, heath and woodland with seven lakes and leisure facilities
• Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice. Many have been renovated and brought back to life as public spaces and leisure destinations and have been incorporated into many city centre redevelopments such at Brindleyplace and the Mailbox.
Hosting markets since the 12th Century, Birmingham has always made it easy to find the basics and enjoy some luxury. The city remains in the top three most visited places to shop in the UK with a £3.74 billion expenditure. The Bullring shopping centre alone is the size of 26 football pitches.
• 40% of all UK jewellery comes from the 400 businesses in the 250 year old Jewellery Quarter.
• Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the biggest of its kind in the UK with nearly 200 stalls lining the city centre, welcoming in excess of 3 million visitors every year.
• Birmingham has over 1,000 shops in a 20-minute walk in the city centre alone.
There is a great mix of artistic talent across Birmingham. Within the centre you can find museums and art galleries with music and film festivals of all genres. The internationally famed City of Birmingham Orchestra and Birmingham Royal Ballet have also made their home in the centre.
The award winning Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is perfect for a fun family day out, with four floors of hands-on exhibits and historical collections to amaze and inspire.
At the heart of the city’s arts scene is the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with its insightful exhibitions, alongside the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite artwork in the world and collections from all eras. Modern art and theatre also can be found throughout the city with Digbeth, the Jewellery Quarter and Eastside contributing to the art scene.
Birmingham hosts a vast array of festivals and events throughout the year; from live music and international dance to literature and street art events. With everything from the latest fashion and contemporary dining, the liveliest bands to the most relaxing canal rides and festivals throughout the year, there’s always something new to discover in Birmingham.
Birmingham’s ties with sport are plentiful – it has staged more World and European Championships than any other UK city. Top level athletics, tennis, cricket, hockey and rugby teams all call this region home.
• Birmingham provided the official training camp facilities for both the Jamaican and US Track and Field teams ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games #BigupBirmingham
• Local teams Aston Villa, West brom and Wolves are amongst founder members of the football league. Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion were formed in 1874, 1875 and 1888 respectively. Aston Villa is one of five English teams to have won the prestigious European Cup and is also part of an elite group that has played in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992.
• Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham’s oldest international sports venue which recently underwent a £32m redevelopment, is home to the 2012 County Champions Warwickshire County Cricket Club – one of the most successful sides in domestic first class cricket.