From Black Sabbath to Frank Skinner, Birmingham has produced some of the finest names in entertainment. But this isn’t a city to rest on its laurels. Birmingham continues to nurture the talent of tomorrow while enticing stand-out stars with its world-class venues. As if that’s not enough, there are cool events like Birmingham Pride and the Good Food Show to enjoy, and, with world-class cricket and football on offer, expect to find some of the brightest stars of the sporting world, too. Here’s our city listing of the best entertainment in town and, wherever you end up, one of Premier Inn’s clean, comfortable Birmingham hotels will be just around the corner.
Entertainment in Birmingham
With a scene that’s both independent and underground, you don’t have to look far to find world-class music in Birmingham. The city that gave us UB40 and Duran Duran continues to innovate, and there’s a venue in town to cater to practically all musical tastes. No matter what day of the week you’re in town there’ll be something to rock out to, from indie to classical to punk.
Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Katy Perry - the biggest stars in music all flock to perform at the Arena Birmingham. Formerly the National Indoor Arena (NIA), the sound here is great, as is the layout - there are good views all round. Its canal-side location means there’s plenty of places to go for a pre or post-gig drink, and it’s just a stroll back to your bed if you’re staying at the Premier Inn hotel near Arena Birmingham.
With a flexible space that can accomodate Arcade Fire one week and Paloma Faith the next, Genting Arena is part of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Previously known as the LG Arena, it can hold up to 16,000 music fans - and there’s plenty of bars and restaurants on site to ensure no one goes hungry or thirsty.
The O2 Academy in Birmingham is in fact three music venues in one. As well as pulling in audiences with its live shows, the Academy is also at the heart of the city’s nightlife with regular club nights including the UK’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll party, Propaganda.
Housed in the old Digbeth Civic Hall and formerly known as the HMV Institute, the O2 Institute is one of Birmingham’s most popular music and comedy spots. It’s made up of three venues of varying size so is great whether you’re up for a big show or an intimate gig.
If classical music and opera are more your thing, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Birmingham. For starters there’s the Birmingham Hippodrome which hosts stunning seasons from the Welsh National Opera each spring and autumn.
Then there’s Symphony Hall, considered one of the finest concert halls in the world. Home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, classical performers flock here to play, because the acoustics are pristine. But the auditorium is beautiful to look at, too, with a pale wood and steel interior dominated by a 6,000 pipe organ.
Founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music and now part of Birmingham City University, the Birmingham Conservatoire offers live classical, jazz and experimental music from world-class musicians and talented students. Don’t miss your chance to see the stars of tomorrow perform!
From international athletics to test cricket, Birmingham’s world-class sporting venues put you at the heart of the action.
One of the world’s best-known cricket stadiums, Edgbaston has an electric atmosphere whether you’re here for a test match or Finals day. If you haven’t got tickets to watch England play, why not take a tour instead? Soak up the history of this great venue and see the player’s dressing rooms, media centre and training facilities.
Home of the mighty Aston Villa Football Club since 1897, Villa Park is a ground steeped in tradition. The largest football stadium in the Midlands, and the eighth largest stadium in England, it’s truly spectacular come match day when it rocks to the sound of almost 43,000 cheering fans. If you’re in town to watch the Villains play, expect a great atmosphere and stands filled with claret and blue.
Love athletics? Head to Alexander Stadium in Birmingham’s Perry Park. It currently plays host to both national and international athletics and is also set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
If it’s not a break without a round of golf, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Birmingham. Seven miles north of the city there’s Great Barr Golf Club with its idyllic rural setting. Or head seven miles east to Dudley Golf Club, which is popular with golfers of all levels. Or try Sutton Coldfield Golf Club, eight miles north-east of Birmingham, recently included in the National Club Golfer's Top 100 Courses in England.
From foodies’ favourites to festive fun, you’ll find a huge number of exciting events and entertaining exhibitions throughout the year in Birmingham. Take a look at our guide and see what you could be doing on your visit.
Each year from mid-November, Birmingham city centre is transformed into a winter wonderland. The largest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany and Austria offers over 180 stalls selling gifts, jewellery, decorations and handmade toys. Trying the delicious Bratwurst and Brezel washed down with a little Glühwein is a must.
With an incredible range of independent, artisan food and drink producers, as well as top chefs cooking up a storm with live demonstrations, the BBC Good Food Show really is the ultimate day out for foodies. The show has proved so popular that it now fills the NEC twice a year, with the taste of Summer and Winter.
Every Spring Bank Holiday rainbow flags cover the city and Birmingham plays host to the UK's biggest two-day Pride Festivalcelebrating its LGBTQ community. Whether you join the 75,000 revellers and watch the parade, head to the festival site or soak up the atmosphere in the city’s Gay Village, you’ll have no trouble getting the party started.
From boogie-woogie to bebop, the Birmingham and Solihull Jazz & Blues Festival offers you the chance to see some of the best musicians from across the world playing blues, swing and all that jazz. Enjoy free gigs across the city in restaurants, bars, public spaces and museums.
Taking place in some weird and wonderful venues across the city, the Flatpack Film Festival offers a mixture of cinema’s forgotten classics and brand new talent. Film fans can expect to find animation, documentaries, short films, music videos, experimental cinema, live scores and late night parties.
If you’re a fan of all things spicy, you’re in for a treat at Birmingham’s Chili Festival. Check out the food stalls from around the world, cooking demonstrations and street entertainment, before heating things up with the competitive chilli eating competition. Will you be crowned the next Chilli King or Queen?
Solihill Jazz and Blues
Flatpack Film Festival
From comedy legends such as Jasper Carrott, Frank Skinner and Stewart Lee to the hottest acts of today, such as Shazia Mirza and Joe Lycett, there’s no shortage of variety in Birmingham’s comedy scene.
Opening in 1994, the Birmingham Glee Club was the first dedicated comedy club outside of London. Want the chance to see the next big thing in comedy? From Peter Kay to Sarah Millican, the venue has seen sets by a number of comedians who have gone on to fill arenas.
The main rival to the Glee Club, The Comedy Loft takes place in 6 On Broad Street, a venue which offers a further five rooms for dancing and drinking afterwards. Comedy takes place every Friday and Saturday night, when you can expect to catch around four acts a night.