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A Fresher's Cultural Guide to Birmingham

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For all the Freshers who have just arrived in Birmingham for the next chapter of their lives here’s a quick guide to all the hidden gems of the city for those days when you’ve had a little too much of Broad Street and just need a break from the Digbeth raves.

 

Galleries 

Sometimes you just need to surround yourself with culture and lose yourself in some art for an afternoon and Birmingham has plenty of places to do just that. Whether it be modern art, beautiful landscapes or traditional portraiture there’s something for everyone. 

1. Birmingham Museum and Gallery 

First opened in 1885 the Birmingham Museum and Gallery is one of the largest in the UK and boasts a wide range of art from a variety of periods, ranging from Pre-Raphaelite to Ancient Egypt. There are also the newly renovated Edwardian tearooms to have an elegant lunch or afternoon tea. 

2. The Ikon Gallery 

For all the modern art fans among you, the Ikon gallery is the place to head. Located just off Broad Street, Ikon showcases between two and three exhibitions at a time that change regularly throughout the year, meaning that whenever you take the time to visit there is likely to be something new and fresh to view. Plus, the café in the gallery is a beautiful and wonderfully aesthetic spot to grab a coffee or a quick bite to eat for lunch

3. Barber Institute of Fine Art

Located on the University of Birmingham’s campus just next to the Guild, the Barber Institute is a wonderful opportunity to check out some art by just a few of the greats. The likes of Monet, Manet, Rousseau, Botticelli and Van Gogh are all on show; with free admission and an on-campus location this one is not to be missed. 

 

Theatres and Cinemas

 

Check out one of the many theatres that Birmingham has to offer. Whether you’re in the mood for a Christmas Ballet, a family pantomime or something a little more serious you’re sure to find it somewhere in the city. 

1. Hippodrome Theatre

The Hippodrome is located in the bustling district of Chinatown, perfect to catch a bite to eat before or after a show. Every Christmas the theatre puts on a family pantomime, which is always a crowd pleaser and a lot of fun for those that get the chance to experience it. There are also ballets running throughout the year in collaboration with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, which are always a beautiful and incredible sight to see. 

2. The New Alexandra Theatre

The New Alexandra is located on the busy Suffolk Street just opposite the Mailbox, which is full of cocktail bars that overlook the canal, perfect for a pre-show drink and definitely worth seeing at night. The theatre runs a variety of tribute acts, dramatic shows and musicals all with reasonably priced tickets, there is truly something for everybody. 

3. The Electric Cinema

This small independent cinema was opened in 1909 and is currently the oldest working cinema in the country. Enjoy a new box office release or old Hollywood movie from the comfort of a red velvet sofa. Enjoy the in house bar whilst taking in the impressive art deco interior. Only a minute’s walk from Grand Central Station, the Electric Cinema is perfect for anyone in need of an evening of culture. 

 

Experiences

1. Tolkien Tour 


J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was born and raised in Birmingham and it is rumoured that many places in the city have served as inspiration for the locations in the novels. Follow the Tolkien Trail to travel through the city to check out some of these locations and try and spot thier literary counterparts.

2. Peaky Blinders Immersive Festival

 If you’re a fan of the Birmingham based show that made Tommy Shelby a household name then the Peaky Blinders Immersive Festival is not one to miss. Watch as the streets of Digbeth are transformed to turn back time to the 1920s. Vintage fairground rides and Victorian street food will be available. The festival usually runs 29th-30thSeptember.

3. Cadbury World Guided tours 

Take a tour of the Cadbury Factory in Bourneville to see where everybody’s favourite chocolate is made and how the company grew to what it is today. Take the chocolatier experience and get the chance to make your own chocolate or enjoy afternoon tea and sample some of the delicious products the factory still produces to this day.

 




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