Arts and culture

Birmingham is laced with history. Once famous for being the ‘city of a thousand trades’ Birmingham was a world-leading powerhouse for jewellery, toys and buckles, and the legacy of these trades carries on today – 40% of all of the UK’s handmade jewellery is still produced in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

If you’re a culture vulture, Birmingham offers a fantastic range of galleries, museums, theatres and cultural assets to suit all tastes and to rival any major city. Explore the list below to find out more about the range of things you can take in across the city during your time here:

Theatres and cinemas

Birmingham Hippodrome - The UK’s most popular single auditorium theatre, welcoming 500,000 visitors a year. Birmingham’s Royal Ballet regularly performs classics including The Nutcracker, and the venue plays host to musicals, world-class ballet and opera, drama and comedy, international dance and the world’s biggest Pantomime!

Royal Shakespeare Company - With over one million visitors each year, the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in nearby Stratford are a little under an hour away by train (from Birmingham Moor Street). With performances all year round, you can take in a play and enjoy a meal in the Rooftop Restaurant.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre - One of the UK’s leading theatres which hosts an exciting and varied programme throughout the year.

The Electric Cinema - The UK’s oldest working cinema, showing everything from big hits and cult classics to independent films.

Everyman Cinema – This cinema swaps classic cinema seats for armchairs and sofas. Enjoy a film in comfort and enjoy pizza and drinks which are served to you in your seat.

Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen- Found within the Bird’s Custard Factory, enjoy craft drinks and gourmet food before heading into the intimate cinema for screenings of both new hits and the classics. 

Museums and art galleries

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) - With over 40 galleries and a diverse exhibition programme, BMAG houses Europe’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. Discover the fascinating story of the Staffordshire Hoard, explore the Birmingham History collections, and view collections spanning seven centuries of European and World history, including Greeks & Romans and Ancient Egypt.

Thinktank Science Museum - Just a stone’s throw away if your tastes are more science-based than art, the family-friendly Thinktank is found inside the impressive Millennium Point building, with hands-on exhibits and historical collections that show off the science of the world all around us.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts – the University’s very own fine art gallery right on campus opposite the Guild of Students, the Barber is housed in one of Birmingham’s finest Art Deco buildings and is home to a variety of exhibitions and events. The world-class collections aim to create inspirational opportunities for learning and enjoyment for our students and the wider public.

Ikon Gallery - Located in Brindleyplace in the city centre, the Ikon displays fantastic contemporary art and exhibitions from a variety of modern artists.Museum of the Jewellery Quarter- A ‘perfectly preserved workshop in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter’, this museum tells the remarkable story of Birmingham’s history and the exquisite jewellery and metalworking heritage. 

Sarehole Mill – If you’re a Tolkein fan, you know that the Midlands is littered with inspiration for the Lord of the Rings. Tolkein lived opposite Sarehole Mill and later stated how the mill and surrounding area inspired the Shire. The Mill has been on site since 1542 and in the 1850s a steam engine was installed. The Mill has lots of events on, and activities to enjoy for a great rural day out.

Soho House - Check out this beautiful Georgian house, also the favourite meeting place of the Lunar Society, who would meet every month on the night of the full moon to dine, conduct experiments and discuss philosophical matters. It was however originally home to Matthew Boulton, and you can view some of his products from the nearby factories including belts, buckles, clocks and vases.

Birmingham Back-to-Backs – Step back in time, and see what life was like for those who put our city on the map. The Back-to-Backs are one of Birmingham’s most cherished National Trust properties. If you go visit in a group, you’ll really experience what life was like for residents who were crammed into the literally back-to-back houses.

St Pauls Gallery - The world’s leading retailer in signed limited edition album cover fine art, so not to be missed if music is your passion! Located in the city's historic Jewellery Quarter.

All rounders

The Library of Birmingham - An architectural icon in Birmingham, the library is a welcoming space open to all with fantastic facilities and stunning views across the city.

MAC Birmingham - Located in Cannon Hill Park and walkable from campus, the MAC is one of the most exciting cultural venues in the city, with galleries and exhibitions, cinema, theatre, dance, comedy, crafts and workshops on throughout the year.

Symphony Hall - Widely regarded as one of the finest concert halls in the world, this home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra also hosts jazz, folk, rock, pop and world music, as well as stars from the world of comedy.

Town Hall - Hosts a wide range of events including craft fairs, comedy shows, readings, performances and more. Perfect for a visit with family and friends.

Resorts World Birmingham is a superstar all-round venue, with family favourites, outlet shopping, a cinema, virtual reality and retro gaming, restaurants and more. It is also home to Resorts World Arena, which plays host to the world's biggest music artists, sporting events and comedy stars.