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Moseley Folk Festival | © Kathcooo/Flickr
Moseley Folk Festival | © Kathcooo/Flickr
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The Essential Festival Guide to Birmingham, UK

Picture of Richard Franks
Freelance Travel & Music Writer
Updated: 1 March 2017
Being the multi-cultural city that it is, Birmingham is home to many wonderful festivals across a varied spectrum. From music and arts to food, drink and film, check out some of the best festivals the city has to offer.

Music

Though Birmingham may seem like a concrete jungle, some of said concrete is actually home to a number of music festivals! Take MADE Festival for example; the famous railway arches which fill Digbeth’s skyline house a festival which celebrates urban and dance music, promoted by Weird Science.

For those who like to rock, Slam Dunk Festival has found a home on Birmingham’s NEC complex and takes over the site for three days in May. At the other end of the rock spectrum, one of Birmingham’s most-loved independent venues hosts an alternative celebration of national and local music every October. All Years Leaving, presented by local promoters This Is Tmrw, is a two day showcase of alt music at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.

Billed as being ‘for curious audiences,’ Supersonic Festival is exactly that. Bringing a fusion of experimental music and arts to the fore, the multi-day event is held in Digbeth and features music, arts, exhibitions and much more.

Away from the concrete, Moseley Park and Pool hosts the popular Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul and Moseley Folk festivals which welcome an array of international and home-grown artists to the second city in July and September, respectively.

Supersonic Festival in Digbeth, Birmingham
Supersonic Festival | © Katchooo/Flickr

Food and drink

Where do we start? Birmingham is an idyllic paradise for food and drink lovers. Though not typically a festival, we must give a mention to Digbeth Dining Club, who have paved the way for local street food in the city and inspired a host of festivals with their weekly events.

Independent Birmingham is hosting one of the newer festivals in town this May with the hope that it will become an annual thing. Held at The Bond, the festival carries the ethos of its membership card; celebrating independent retailers in the city. The festival will showcase food, drink, artists, high street retailers and more!

The free-to-attend Colmore Food Festival is held in Birmingham City Centre on the final weekend of June each year and is pushed by leading city chef Glynn Purnell. Attracting well over 30,000 visitors a year, this is the biggest food festival in the city and no option on each stall’s menu costs more than £4, offering incredible value.

Digbeth Dining Club Birmingham
Digbeth Dining Club | © Nom & Malc/Flickr

Arts

The University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival is now in its fifth year. Taking place in March, the event brings artists, scientists and cultural figures together for a week of exhibitions and presentations. The festival works in conjunction with a number of Birmingham venues and landmarks including Ikon Gallery and the Electric Cinema.

City of Colours is an independent, urban arts company with the aim of showcasing musicians of all talents and abilities. While they hold an annual festival showing off prominent street art and graffiti across the city, the organisation also holds regular talks and events in Birmingham. Check out their Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest goings on!

Birmingham plays host to its first festival of poetry and spoken word this year – with Verve launching in February. The festival – which takes place in Waterstones book store over its six floors and a custom marquee – features a whole host of local and internationally renowned poets and free-to-enter events for children!

Taking place at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre, BE Festival (Birmingham European Festival) produces an eclectic calendar of programming each year without fail. Expect to see dance, circus, comedy, music and performing arts on show at the festival which attracts visitors globally each June.

City of Colours street art festival Birmingham
City of Colours, Birmingham street art festival | © Janssem Cardoso/Flickr

Film

Flatpack has been a Brummie stronghold since 2006 and shows no signs of slowing down. The city’s most popular film festival, Flatpack takes place in a number of venues across the city centre and surrounding areas. Flatpack screens anything from music documentaries and live performances through to local features and short films.

Taking place in November, Birmingham Film Festival is a three-day event of film screenings and award ceremonies held at the independent Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen in the Custard Factory, Digbeth. The festival is held in such prestige that Steven Knight – creator of BBC drama Peaky Blinders – is now a patron of the festival!

Brindleyplace plays host to a completely free film festival for a week in July each year. Set up on an outdoor screen, festival organisers let attendees vote on which films are to be shown from the theme provided. Last year’s theme was Best of British and saw films like Spectre and Paddington screened!

Flatpack Festival Birmingham
Flatpack Festival Birmingham | © Soraya Fatha/Flickr