The heart of England is Birmingham – and it’s a big one that makes those of shoppers’ beat fast! It’s also a warm welcoming one. ‘Brummies’ have much to be proud of in their dynamic city with its fabulous mix of ancient monuments and modern retail centres, stunning theatre and concert venues, and world class galleries and museums. There is also the heritage of the canal system that brought much wealth in the past and runs right through it; today a place of leisure opportunities and waterside wining and dining.
A few steps from centrally located New St station, the striking Birmingham Bullring captivates with its amazing design, this location has been a focus of retail therapy for centuries and is a huge success with visitors drawn from across the UK and overseas. The Mailbox, a smaller yet stylish mixed use complex, houses high end fashion stores, most notably Harvey Nichols and Emporio Armani, and classy restaurants. Some of these overlook The Worcester and Birmingham Canal which runs behind it. The Mailbox is also home to the BBC Shop & Public Space where you can take a studio tour and have a go at presenting or making a weather report!
You might also stroll the more than 250 years old Jewellery Quarter with its museum, conserved buildings and 500+ businesses or, for a more alternative take, investigate creative quarter the Custard Factory with its quirky independent shops in restored Victorian factories! You should certainly make your way on to the canal towpath with its reminders of the Industrial Revolution and now a pretty scene with brightly painted narrowboats, elegant ironwork bridges and cruise vessels plying tourists along the waterway.
The city’s many top attractions also include the Thinktank Science Museum with interactive fun for all the family in 10 themed galleries. Another one for families to share is the National Sea Life Centre with its shark and tropical fish polytunnel, jellyfish discovery tanks, Penguin Ice Adventure and 4D cinema.
Culture lovers are well served by the world class Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham Hippodrome and outstanding Town Hall and Symphony Hall, check programmes for a wide variety of entertainments and performances that include ballet, opera and the city’s own symphony orchestra. Spot the new Library of Birmingham, considered the largest public library in Europe, with its imaginative, postmodern high-tech architecture, located at Centenary Square.
When Birmingham and food are mentioned in the same hot breath, it’s the city’s reputation as the home of the Balti curry that springs to mind. The Balti Triangle is where to head for authentic curries and is located to the south of the city centre if you’ve yet to sample one. The city centre is also no stranger to fine dining with many upscale and Michelin-starred establishments, as well as popular chains and inviting wine bars and public houses.
Day or night, the pedestrianised Victoria Square with its Town Hall, and Council House, is a splendid place to tarry by its wide steps, water features, statuary and sculpture. This once busy traffic junction, where three major streets converge, was opened in1994 by Diana, Princess of Wales. Like so much of Birmingham’s redevelopment, it expresses the sense of past, present and future alive in this buzzy city.