With the revival of Star Wars in the last few years, the world has seen a resurgence of ‘geek’ culture. And with the UK release of the much-anticipated Solo this week, here’s the lowdown of the best spots in Birmingham to indulge in fan culture.
The Electric Cinema
Located a stone’s throw away from Grand Central, The Electric Cinema offers a quirky alternative from chain cinemas. As the oldest working cinema in the UK, it screens a mix of blockbusters, classic cinema, foreign films and new releases, including Solo from the 24th of May. Choose from a selection of film-themed cocktails such as Blade Rummer, Cooler Hand Luke and Last of the Mojitos and cosy up on one of their many comfy sofas to enjoy your favourite flicks in style.
Nostalgia & Comics
The second oldest comic book store in the UK, Nostalgia & Comics first opened its doors in 1977, and has remained a key place for anyone seeking comics or graphic novels in Birmingham. Its staggeringly expansive collection stretches over two floors, and has everything from mainstream releases to rare back issues. The ever-friendly staff are always on hand to recommend you something new, with their vast knowledge stretching from Batman to Blacksad. It’s easy to splurge in this store, especially if you’re a huge fan, but every geek is guaranteed to walk away happy.
Tilt combines retro gaming with craft beer to create a paradise for arcade aficionados. Tucked away in Birmingham’s busy centre, Tilt features three floors of pinball machines, all of which can be enjoyed alongside a craft beer, artisan coffee or a selection of soft drinks. The wide variety of themed machines includes Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones, Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy, ensuring that everyone is happy. The last Monday of every month is reserved for Tilt’s pinball league, so if you fancy yourself a pinball wizard, this is a spot not to be missed.
Located only a few miles south of the city centre, Sarehole Mill and its surrounding area served as inspiration for The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, who grew up there in the early 20th century and based The Shire and other parts of Hobbiton on the mill and its surroundings. The mill is now a Grade II listed building and is open for tours, so any fans of Middle Earth can experience the origin of Tolkien’s world for themselves. There is also an annual Tolkien Weekend held at Sarehole Mill complete with battle reenactments, lessons in Elvish and costume competitions. Fans can also visit the nearby Moseley Bog, which has been credited as the home of Tom Bombadil.
For those who want to throw themselves into the world of fiction, Escape Live – located in the Jewellery Quarter – is the perfect activity. You can follow in the footsteps of Marty McFly in the Time Machine room, follow a trail of clues in the Sherlock-esque Dr Wilson’s Office or choose from the venue’s other room themes to immerse yourself in an hour or two of fantasy. The rooms can prove to be tricky, so it’s the perfect excuse to get a group together and tackle it together.
MCM Comic Con Birmingham
Held twice a year, the weekend-long MCM Comic Con Birmingham floods the NEC with enthusiasts from every fandom, all coming together to celebrate geek culture. The convention offers fans the chance to meet their favourite film stars, go to panels led by video game creators, peruse the wide variety of stands and – most importantly – dress up as their favourite fictional characters. Returning in November 2018, March’s Comic Con saw stars such as Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn make an appearance for meet and greet opportunities.
Matrix Virtual Reality
Fans of Ready Player One will love this hidden gem in Digbeth’s Custard Factory. As futuristic as its namesake, Matrix Virtual Reality offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in fantasy via their range of high spec VR headsets and computers. With the option to play solo or against family and friends, the variety of games stretches from horror to racing to shooter, and avid gamers can purchase their own VR equipment from the onsite store.