How to spend 48 hours in Birmingham
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Its exciting and eclectic cultural panoply has made Birmingham one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, the place is positively awash with festivals of various types and sizes, some annual, others biennial, some massive, others of a more modest scale.
There’s certainly diversity when it comes to themes, with just a brief overview taking in the Mind Body Spirit Birmingham Wellbeing Festival (March 2021), Taps Festival (March), a three-day celebration of beer, the Gin & Rum Festival (April), the All Birmingham Coffee Festival (July, Custard Factory), Caribbean Festival (July), the Caribbean food-themed Jerk Festival (August) Birmingham Extreme Chilli Festival (September), visual pop culture festival Eye Candy (September/October), Brum Spirit’s annual coming together (September) of musicians and artists from Brazil, Birmingham and the wider world, and LGBTQ+ festival Shout (November) and the Midlands Whisky Festival celebrating its 10th anniversary (November).
Plus, of course, the 2021 return of the annual German Frankfurt Market in the run-up to Christmas. Birmingham City University even has its own event in June, the Inspired Festival shining a spotlight on the work of artists, actors, designers, engineers, writers and musicians who are graduating from the University.
July sees Birmingham Hippodrome’s weekend festival Summer In Southside which heads back to the carefree days of childhood with free fun for kids of all ages. July also sees the return of Tilt, Birmingham’s first dedicated Aerial & Physical Theatre Festival celebrating high quality teaching and performance from national and international circus artists
Taking a look across Birmingham’s music festivals, the annual Moseley Folk & Arts Festival takes place the first weekend of September in Moseley Park, and the organisers are also responsible for the Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival in Moseley Park in July.
In February, Supersonic, the highly-acclaimed weekend festival of the experimental, the avant-garde and sheer blistering noise takes place in June with a host of names you’ll likely have never heard of.
May features Celebrating Sanctuary, a celebration of world music and the city and UK’s refugee musical culture while, in July, Sandwell Valley Country Park offers the seventh MADE, aka The Metropolitan, Arts & Dance Event, bringing together electronic music (The Streets already confirmed) with some of Birmingham’s best visual and street artists, designers, set builders and creatives and musicians, while, celebrating its 10th anniversary, Sandwell & Birmingham Mela, the UK’s Biggest South Asian Music Festival takes place July 17/18 at Victoria Park, Smethwick.
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Simmer Down, which pays tribute to reggae and related musical genres, returns to Handsworth Park in August, which is also the month for BASS festival, a celebration of Black Music and Arts, while Digbeth hosts the Holi Rave festival of colour. Moving from July to October in 2021, the Birmingham, Solihull & Westside Jazz Festival will mark its 36th year with some 200 citywide shows, mostly free, including artists from across the world.
A free three-day celebration of music, fashion, dance, theatre, art, literature and food based around the city’s central civic squares and shopping district Birmingham Weekender takes place in October. Poetry lovers are also treated to the Verve Poetry & Spoken Word Festival at the Old Rep in February. With so many culturally-rich festivals in Birmingham, you will be spoilt for choice.
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