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Home to countless museums, arts venues, heritage sites and family attractions, the UK’s “second city” has way more to offer than a good balti. Read on to plan your perfect weekend in Birmingham.
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was once home to over 100 factories manufacturing the Birmingham pen – now it’s home to this museum that tells the tale. Housing over 5,000 objects, visitors can learn how Birmingham’s steel pen trade supplied 75 percent of the world’s pens during the 19th century. The museum also runs a range of calligraphy classes in the Callicreative Room, designed for both beginners and more experienced calligraphers.
The mac theatre sits on the edge of the picturesque Cannon Hill Park, and is home to two theatres, a cinema, a gallery, various studios and rehearsal spaces, a community learning area and its own bar and cafe. There are numerous performances, workshops, exhibits and screenings to take in every day. Visitors can also sign up for courses in visual and performance arts, health and wellbeing, or digital media skills, and there are sessions for families and young people, too.
Hidden away inside the historic Aston Webb Building on the University of Birmingham campus, the Lapworth Museum of Geology underwent a huge £2.7m redevelopment in 2017 and was subsequently shortlisted for an Art Fund Museum of the Year Award. Allowing students, researchers and the general public an opportunity to examine 250,000 geological specimens, the Lapworth Museum encourages visitors to consider how the Earth formed and changed through time, and how life on earth has developed and evolved since then.
The National SEA LIFE Centre, situated on the edge of Brindleyplace, offers a unique aquarium experience. Home to sharks, penguins, sea turtles and more, visitors can learn about the organisation’s conservation projects and explore the new octopus hideout. For a really special experience, it’s possible to feed the residents, take a behind-the-scenes tour, or even book a sea life sleepover.
Home to the famous River statue – more commonly known as ‘the Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ – Victoria Square in the city centre features an impressive collection of public art. Its namesake, Queen Victoria, is portrayed in an imposing bronze statue, and the square is flanked by the two ‘Guardians’ – sandstone sculptures by Dhruva Mistry. The square is also home to Antony Gormley’s Iron: Man.
On the edge of Birmingham’s picturesque Jewellery Quarter, St Paul’s Church is a Grade I listed church in Birmingham’s only remaining 18th-century square. It was built in 1779, and in 2000 had a new stained-glass window fitted, the design of which represents the local jewellery trade. Visitors can enjoy the architecture alongside live music events and guided tours.