|Life in Birmingham
Birmingham is flourishing and is internationally recognised as a
leader in leisure, entertainment, business, shopping, industry and
sport. The city centre is a fusion of attractive squares, modern
shopping arcades, diverse pubs, clubs and restaurants and fine
museums, theatres and art galleries – truly a World City
In the city centre, you can find interesting monuments, museums and
beautiful squares. Around the city, you can find wonderful parks.
Birmingham is right in the centre of the UK so you can visit the
most famous cities quite easily
Europe’s Shopping Capital – Birmingham City Centre
Superb shopping facilities are as close as five minutes’ walk from
the Centre. The Bullring shopping centre has a vast array of shops,
boutiques and restaurants including Selfridges, housed in a striking
and unique building. The development proved so popular there were
over 50 million visitors in its first year, creating a real buzz in
the city centre.
All over the city centre the shopping choice is excellent with
high-fashion boutiques nestling alongside major ‘High Street’ names
in a compact pedestrian centre with many undercover malls.
Developments include the Birmingham Mailbox, a massive leisure and
designer shopping emporium (including Armani, DKNY and Harvey
Nichols stores) and home to the BBC Television Studios, right in the
The historic Birmingham Jewellery Quarter (Europe’s largest), home
to manufacturing jewellers, silver and goldsmiths since 1460, is an
amazing place full of high quality bargains often direct from their
skilled manufacturers. Located just North West of the city centre
the Jewellery Quarter has a signposted walking historic shopping
Handy for students are the numerous markets (recently totally
rebuilt), which offer over 1,000 stalls with an enormous variety of
goods including fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables all at low
prices. There is a splendid range of bookshops, including
Waterstones, which accommodates some four miles of bookshelves on
There are so many places to go, and so much to do that you will
always be spoilt for choice... Spend an evening in a canalside café,
pub or restaurant, take a trip to the cinema, theatre or ballet or
laugh the night away at the Glee and Jongleurs Comedy Clubs.
There are numerous cafés, pubs and bars in and around the city
centre. The Broad Street, Brindley Place/Mailbox area is popular
with students and has lots of places to eat and drink beside the
canals, for example Zinc Bar, Living Room, Bank, The Works, Flares,
Hard Rock Café, Bar Epernay and Walkabout (amongst many others). The
bars, cafés and clubs at The Arcadian Centre (near the Chinese
Quarter) are also popular with students.
Birmingham is bursting with clubs playing anything from dance,
house, drum and bass and jungle, to hard rock, 70s, 80s, lounge,
soul, jazz and garage. Clubs like Apt, The Medicine Bar, Air (home
to GodsKitchen), The Works, Indi, Rococo Lounge and Gas Street play
host to top DJs and attract clubbing aficionados from across the UK.
Most also offer a student night, where entrance prices and drinks
start from as little as £1. Alternatively, the National Exhibition
Centre (NEC) and the National Indoor Arena (NIA) frequently host
some of the largest names in music, whilst the Birmingham Carling
Academy (300 metres from campus) attracts ‘medium-sized’ indie, R&B
and dance acts, as well as hosting student nights during the week.
For information on what’s going on in Birmingham and where are the
best places to eat, drink or dance, pick up a copy of the City’s
‘What’s On’ magazine or ask our students on open days.
Classical and Jazz
If you prefer classical music or jazz, Birmingham is equally
attractive. The Symphony Hall, one of the finest concert halls in
the world, is home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO
and often offers cheap tickets for students. The Hippodrome Theatre
in the Chinese Quarter is a base for the Birmingham Royal Ballet and
hosts many other touring musicals and events, while a number of pubs
in the city centre host jazz and blues bands most nights of the week
and the Jam House in the Jewellery Quarter is a famed jazz and live
Festivals and Events
Birmingham hosts many festivals including an International Jazz
Festival in the summer, a Film and Television Festival, Comedy
Festival and ‘ArtsFest’ in the autumn. Broad Street is regularly
used as a backdrop for street parades and other lively spectacles
and throughout the year the Arcadian Centre in Chinatown is the
setting for a variety of street entertainment and themed weekends.
The NEC and NIA host many of the country’s major events and
exhibitions including The Motorcycle Show, Clothes Show Live, and
the BBC Good Food Show. Christmas is a magical time in Birmingham,
when the city centre comes alive with lights and sounds and a
Frankfurt German Christmas Market (Frankfurt is twinned with
Stage and Screen
Birmingham has one of the highest concentrations of live theatre
outside the West End of London; the Alexandra, Birmingham Rep,
Crescent, MAC, Hippodrome, Library and Old Rep Theatres stage both
traditional and more innovative works. You can also choose from a
wide range of cinemas, from the large multi-screen complexes to
smaller cinemas (such as the newly refurbished and restored Electric
Cinema, the oldest working cinema in the UK, dating from 1909)
specialising in Arthouse, foreign language and avant-garde films.
Again, student discounts are available for most performances.
The Star City complex, about 2 miles to the north of the city
centre, boasts 30 screens and almost 6,000 seats (the UK’s largest
cinema), and has restaurants, bars and shopping too. Star City is
even large enough to have dedicated sets of screens for Asian (Bollywood
etc.), Arthouse and classic films.
Museums and Art Galleries
Some of the finest art collections in the world are to be found in
Birmingham. The City Museum and Art Gallery, the Gas Hall and the
Barber Institute of Fine Arts provide spectacular settings for
classical and modern works, while the IKON Gallery on Brindley Place
hosts challenging exhibitions and serves great coffee.
Birmingham also has a wealth of museums. Cadbury World celebrates
Birmingham’s chocolate industry whilst the Millennium Point and
Thinktank (across the road from the campus) chronicles Birmingham’s
industrial past and future and has lots of interesting buttons to
Sport and Leisure
Over the last four years or so, no other city in Europe has held
more major sporting championships than Birmingham. Currently, local
football teams Aston Villa (Villa), West Bromwich Albion (The
Baggies), Birmingham City (The Blues), Coventry City and
Wolverhampton Wanderers, (Wolves) are competing in England’s top two
Divisions (The Premiership and Championship) and all have their home
grounds within easy reach.
Warwickshire County Ground at Edgbaston (3 miles south of the city
centre) provides Test and county cricket games and a number of local
rugby teams compete in national divisions.
Major tennis tournaments are held at Edgbaston Priory and
international golf tournaments at The Belfry, the National Golf
Centre (including the Ryder Cup).
The Alexander Stadium hosts international athletics, whilst the
National Indoor Arena (NIA) is also the venue for over thirty indoor
sports, including tennis’ Davis Cup and the 2003 World Indoor
Athletics and World Badminton Championships.
Leisure activities in and around Birmingham include go-karting,
snowboarding and skiing (for example at Tamworth Snowdome), ice
skating, tenpin bowling and paintball, whilst the city’s many parks
and gardens offer space to relax in the open air. In fact,
Birmingham has more square miles of open space than any other UK
city, including Sutton Park, Europe’s largest urban nature reserve.
Student discounts are available in many pubs, cafés and restaurants
throughout the city, so if you don’t want to cook there are plenty
of cheap and tempting alternatives. All tastes are catered for, with
thriving English, French, Cajun, Italian, Mexican, Spanish,
Austrian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Latin American, Thai and
Japanese restaurants alongside the burger, pizza, vegetarian and
gourmet restaurants that characterise any large European city.
Transport in Birmingham
Public transport can be used to navigate through the city during the
day until 12 o’clock at night. You can choose the bus or train, it
depends on the neighbourhood where you live.
If you have to take the bus very often, we advise you to buy a
Faresaver card. It costs £12.50 per week, £44 per month, £112 per
term or £280 for three terms.
You can find the all information about West-Midlands public
transport on www.travelwm.co.uk.
To navigate during the night through the city it is necessary to
take a taxi. Don’t worry about this because if you take one with
your friends it is not expensive.
If you want to travel around England you can do it by train or bus.
The bus is cheaper but trains are faster and more comfortable. Some
useful websites to find information and the cheapest fares are:
www.nationalexpress.com and www.megabus.com . We advise you to check
the ticket in advance because prices change quickly.