City Profile: Guide to Birmingham
Location: The Midlands, England
County: West Midlands
Area: 267 sq. km
Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city, with over a million inhabitants. Located in the Midlands, it has easy access to the rest of the country, and was famed as the centre of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nowadays it is a busy, cosmopolitan city with loads to do, excellent shopping and a buzzing night life.
Culture in Birmingham
The cultural side of Birmingham is largely based around music, and the city has produced some of the most influential bands of the last century, ranging from the heavy metal of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, to the modern day Editors and The Streets. This heritage is continued through some great music venues in the city, including the Custard Factory and Midlands Arts Centre. Equally, for the classical music lovers, the Symphony Hall is often considered the best concert hall in Europe.
However, music isn’t the only string to Birmingham’s cultural bow. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a huge selection of art works, whilst the Hippodrome is the most popular theatre in Britain, continually putting on top musicals and pantomimes.
One almost unique part of Birmingham’s heritage is the Cadbury chocolate factory located on the outskirts of the city. It is a major draw for tourists, offering tours, activities and of course, lots of free samples!
Shopping in Birmingham
Birmingham is one of the best cities in Europe for shopping, offering an extensive and diverse range of shops. High street shopping is centred around the huge Bullring Shopping Centre which contains 160 shops. Redeveloped in 2003, it is one of the biggest and busiest shopping centres in Britain and caters for just about every high street shopper’s needs.
For the more up market shopping experience, the Mailbox Shopping Centre offers over 50 exclusive high end designer clothing and lifestyle shops, and dozens of restaurants, cafes and bars.
There are also numerous markets regularly held throughout Birmingham. Highlights include the award winning Bullring outdoor market with 160 stalls open most of the week, and the New Street Farmers’ Market held once a fortnight.
Eating Out in Birmingham
The restaurants in Birmingham reflect the sheer cultural diversity of the city’s inhabitants. Whether you want a Michelin starred evening meal, or a quick international lunch, Birmingham will have a restaurant perfect for you.
One particular highlight that is not to be missed is the Balti Triangle with over 50 Indian and Asian restaurants all within walking distance of one another. It is so unique that it was declared one of country’s ‘don’t miss’ experiences.
Transport in Birmingham
The best way to travel to and around Birmingham is by train. There are excellent rail links to both London and northern England, as well as many accessible stations throughout the city.
The city is also very well connected by road, with many of the country’s biggest motorways passing by or entering Birmingham, as well as the most famous motorway junction in the UK- Spaghetti Junction.
If you fancy trying something a little bit different, there is also a network of canals (like the one here on the left) thats run throughout Birmingham with hundreds of barges filling them. Why not hire one for a week for a unique holiday.
Sport in Birmingham
The two sports most associated with Birmingham are football and cricket. There are three Premier League football teams that play in the city- Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom. All have their own impressive stadiums within Birmingham, and tickets are generally quite easily and cheaply available.
The city is also host to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground- one of the most famous and prestigious grounds in the UK. The Warwickshire cricket team play there most weeks during the summer, and there are regular England international ‘Test’, ‘One Day’ and ‘Twenty20’ matches throughout the year at very affordable prices.
Universities in Birmingham
Birmingham University is a campus based university set in the UK’s second largest city. It is regularly placed in the top 20 universities in the UK in rankings tables...