Haven’t been to Birmingham in a while? You’ll be surprised at how many reasons there are now to step out of your business hotel and revel in the city’s many activities. So put on your walking shoes and catch a glimpse of its regeneration.
The innovation and influence that Birmingham has demonstrated over the past few years has had a major impact on tourism growth, firmly putting the UK's second city on the map.
Recently, it was the only UK city to make Rough Guides' global list of best places to visit, being praised for its "creative hotspots" amid an urban sprawl.
As concrete evidence of how well it is doing, Birmingham’s Christmas Markets welcomed a record-breaking number of visitors in 2014, with footfall reaching a high of 5.5 million – up by 1.2 million from two years ago.
Emma Gray, director of marketing services at Marketing Birmingham, said, “This year will be one of Birmingham’s busiest, with major attractions and institutions, such as Cadbury World, Birmingham Cathedral and Birmingham Royal Ballet, all celebrating key anniversaries, as well as the arrival of new retail and leisure offerings, including Resorts World and Grand Central.”
Birmingham’s shopping scene has been boosted by the redevelopment of The Mailbox complex and the refurbishment of Selfridges within the Bullring centre. In March, a new 10-year plan to redevelop 14 hectares of prime city centre land was also announced. Expecting to bring in millions of new visitors, Birmingham Smithfield will see the creation of a destination that includes vibrant retail markets, a family leisure quarter and residential neighbourhoods.
Copthorne Hotel Birmingham
There is literally something for everyone in this sprawling metropolis. Here are some of our suggestions for summer.
Birmingham is playing a key role this year as the host of the Rugby World Cup 2015. To find out if your team is playing, check out www.rugbyworldcup.com.
You can also bask in the late afternoon sun watching the cricket at Edgbaston or revel in a game of football with a trip to Villa Park.
With four Michelin-starred restaurants, Birmingham promises a gastronomic evening. If you’re looking for a more relaxing vibe, try one of the cities many microbreweries or tempt your taste buds with a curry in the famous Balti Triangle district. You will find an increasing number of secret cocktail bars, waterside restaurants and cafes in Birmingham, too.
Right in the heart of the city is Bullring shopping centre, with over 160 of the world’s most famous brands for you to explore. When you've shopped until you've dropped, grab a light lunch at one of the many eateries or a coffee to go from a local barista. Alternatively, the Custard Factory complex is home to 30 independent shops. It’s set in the beautifully restored collection of riverside Victorian factories where Alfred Bird famously invented his instant eggless custard.
For that unique find, head to Burlington Arcade, which is filled with delightful boutiques and one-off designers.
Gas Street Basin
Shortlisted for the City of Culture 2013 title, Birmingham has much to offer if you’re after a more elegant night out. Birmingham's major cultural institutions, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Library of Birmingham and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, all enjoy international reputations.