These days there’s much more to Birmingham than just the accent. Named ‘Best UK City to Visit’ by readers of Group Leisure magazineearlier in the year, this West Midlands destination is finally beginning to shake off the shackles of stereotyping by providing a fun-filled trip for all the family.
But what are the claims to fame that England’s hotly-disputed Second City holds?
The model village that gave dark chocolate one of its best-known brands was developed by George Cadbury in order to move his factory closer to the burgeoning rail and canal systems in the 1870s. A number of Bourneville’s 25,000 residents are still employed at the Cadbury’s factory, which went above and beyond to ensure its employees could live in a safe and prosperous environment for them and their families. A stroll around the village confirms that it’s as idyllic and quaint as ever, despite Bourneville’s rising student population.
Among the annual visits from exhibitions like Gardener’s World and Gadget Show Live, Birmingham’s five NEC Group-owned venues are where you’ll find the world’s top touring bands and symphonies, as well as TV tapings of some of the UK’s favourite shows.
Michael Bublé will kick off the season’s events at the newly-renamed Barclaycard Arena (formerly the NIA) next month, which also includes visits from rock royalty Queen and eccentric thrashers Slipknot, while the Birmingham NEC (close to Birmingham International Airport) is world-famous for having hosted British TV seriesGladiators.
Rock music history
Speaking of rock royalty, the city of Birmingham has produced all manner of alternative musical talent, most famously Black Sabbath, whose singer Ozzy Osbourne went on to achieve worldwide fame as both solo artist and reality TV star. Relatively less well-known but equally influential in the rock music world are the Birmingham five-piece heavy metallers Judas Priest, whose singer, Rob Halford, regularly appears on all-time top rock vocalist lists.
One of Birmingham’s oldest surviving ports of call is also its most popular; the Bullring is one of the most-visited shopping districts in the UK. Boasting one of only four branches of Selfridges department stores in England, the two Bullring shopping centres can claim to be one of the busiest in the United Kingdom, such is the variety of shops contained within.
For those wanting to explore this sprawling metropolis, we would recommend hiring a car from Birmingham International Airport.