Birmingham is a miracle city; once a powerhouse of industry, now academic nucleus, and forever waterway king. It’s always running at full capacity, on the fuel of a thousand trades and more than a thousand voices. To the mislead mind, Birmingham’s world-class culture, striking architecture and fiery spirit beats all expectations. Beyond the Bull-Cadbury axis, there’s a multitude of lesser known experiences waiting to showcase Brum’s true character.
5. Moseley Private Park
Meters away from the cheeses and loafs at Moseley’s quintessential markets, there’s a spring of Chestnut trees, Willows, and wild primrose. This is Moseley Park; a patch of green at the heart of a village community, with wildlife and flora dramatising the lakeside setting. Once the estate of a Birmingham manufacturer, it’s now looked after by a charitable trust. It’s so secret, that you’ll have to get a ‘day key’ for access. Nonetheless, a great spot for walks, picnics and escape.
4. Street Food and Coffee
In recent years, it’s been of no coincidence that ‘yum’ rhymes with ‘Brum’. This midland metropolis has been cooking up a storm of Michelin stars, brand-beating independents, and delightful street food. Led by contemporary food engineers, and recipe craftsmen, the ingredients of Birmingham’s diversity bounce into the fore. Down in the Digbeth area of the city, Friday’s Dinning Clubs see traders like ‘Low n Slow’ and ‘Pietanic’ pitch up amongst tunes, train tracks, and festival vibes. Alternatively, the new Hawkers Yard boosts street food in an urban shipping container setting. The ideal place to eat your Greek mezze, of course.
In other areas, Birmingham’s coffee game has been frothing up bold city centre staples. There’s enough exposed piping, wooden furniture and brick interiors to be certain of the authenticity. Appreciate the brews at Faculty, Six Eight Kafe, and Yorks Bakery, where Milan-worthy aromas percolate.
3. Birmingham Coffin Works
Peep into Birmingham’s industrial past, by passing golden signage and robust dusty brick. At the Newman Brothers Coffin Works, pack away thoughts of grim and gloom for an experience beyond the grave. It’s a pandora’s box workshop, bursting with wonky wooden shelves and heavy machinery. Brass hammers clang in the factory audio, whilst work-coat costumed tour guides relive the 1960s heydey. Constructing coffins was a mere extension of the Jewellery Quarter’s metal and gem trades; hence these melancholy objects went on to furnish the funerals of Churchill and Chamberlin. To unlock the curiosity for yourself, book a time slot.
2. Grand Union
It’s named after the city’s biggest canal, and arguably boosts the city’s best contemporary art. At Grand Union, a team of budding collaborators use canvas-white walls as a backdrop for talent illumination. Part gallery, factory and studio – this multipurpose venue, nestled in Digbeth’s cultural epicenter, packs a creative punch. On display, you’ll find prints, photography and film amongst the rotating exhibitions. For the Matisse amongst you, creative workspaces and events allow some artistic exercise. This union of canal heritage and modern-day innovation is cool, squared.
1. Aston Hall
All history buffs in Brum should head to Aston Hall. Delve into an era of cannon-fire and parliamentary rebellion; Not post-Brexit Britain, but English Civil War. It’s towering chimneys and turrets declare it a Jacobean gem. Yet battle wounds can be seen at the grand oak staircase, bearing a cannonball sized hole. Also noteworthy are the rumoured ghouls, musty smell, and regal decor. October nights bring haunts and screams, with spine-tingling tours around Birmingham’s most haunted building. For more historic views, stroll through neat hedgerows in the gardens. You probably won’t miss Aston Villa FC poking through the treetops.