The return of festivals and live events will feel even more special this summer and the West Midlands has a must-see list of exciting shows and attractions to visit.
From outdoor Shakespeare to music gigs and all the fun of the fair, here are some of the hottest tickets to book now as we start to enjoy our newfound freedoms out of our homes.
Birmingham Royal Ballet returns with a specially adapted version of its award-winning Cinderella show at Birmingham Rep Theatre in June.
Transport yourself into the magical world of dancing rats and pumpkins that turn into a coach in this mesmerising fairytale dance production by Sir David Bintley.
Revel in every moment of much-missed live theatre with Birmingham Royal Ballet from June 18 to 26 as the Royal Ballet Sinfonia performs Prokofiev’s beautiful music.
Cinderella is a lavish way to enjoy the stage once more with exquisite dance, spectacular scenery, and a cast of magical characters. This specially adapted show has a reduced score and staging adaptations to allow for social distancing and performer ‘bubbles’. Book tickets from £20 HERE
Watch The Euros Among Fans
Watch every England match whilst soaking up the atmosphere (in a socially distanced way) at bars and outdoor screens across Birmingham during a month of sport.
Among those showing all the games are Hennessey’s in Digbeth, which has a new Basement Bar with two big screens and five Ultra HD TVs and The British Oak in Stirchley. While at Flight Club in Temple Street, Birmingham city centre, you can book to enjoy the England match and play darts an hour before or after it as part of the bar’s Summer of Joy season.
The postponed Euros 2020 gets under way from Friday June 11 for a month of sport until the final on July 11. Be prepared to book a table at popular sports pubs and bars for England games if Covid restrictions are still in place. Find more details on Flight Club HER
Birmingham Pride organisers have introduced ‘Smithfield Live’ for the very first time, where the Main Stage, Dance Arena, Cabaret Stage, Funfair and more will be held on the site of the former wholesale markets. This arena has been supported by Birmingham City Council who became partners for the event in 2021. Additionally, a subsidised ‘Street Party’ and community event will be held in the LGBTQ village with reduced ticket prices available.
Former ‘Girls Aloud’ singer ‘Cheryl’ will headline the Main Stage on Saturday 25th September alongside, Katy B, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Riton, Aaron Porter, Andrea Di Giovanni, Jodie Harsh, Hungama, Harpies, Baga Chipz, Ms Banks, Boney M, and others. Sunday’s line up is yet to be announced.
For more information and tickets click HERE
UB40 concert at Sandwell Valley
Britain’s most successful reggae band and homegrown talent UB40 will be performing at a huge outdoor show in Sandwell Valley Country Park on Sunday August 1.
With over 70 million albums sold, over 50 UK chart singles and three chart-topping hits, UB40 will bring a well-known collection of tracks to fans in West Bromwich from Red Red Wine to Kingston Town.
Revellers at Live From The Valley will enjoy music from midday until 9.30pm with support acts including Beverley Knight and The Dualers. Make a day of it by indulging in food and drinks catered for by stalls at the park.
UB40: Live From The Valley will include a host of support acts during the day Tickets start from £35 plus booking fee and you can find out more HERE
Van Gogh Alive
Immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s life and paintings in this superb multi-sensory exhibition at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Returning for a limited period at the theatre until July 11, this digital art experience allows you to appreciate works from Starry Starry Night to Sunflowers, using stunning projections, classical music and words from his letters.
With a sensation of walking right into Van Gogh’s paintings and images that move along to the music, this vibrant exhibition is a joy for all ages and a memorable experience.
A visit lasts between 90 minutes to two hours. Book tickets and find out more at the Birmingham Hippodrome website HERE
From Soweto Kinch to Yass Ahmed, a six-day music festival in Birmingham will feature the full spectrum of jazz.
Created by the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall, Jazz Fest runs from August 23 to 28 and will showcase everything from international artists to local community bands.
Music fans can enjoy free and low-cost performances at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth, on stage at Symphony Hall and in Symphony Hall’s brand-new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space.
Birmingham-based saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch headlines at Symphony Hall on Monday August 23 at 7.30pm while Jazz FM’s UK Jazz Act of the Year 2020, Yazz Ahmed performs on the same stage on Wednesday August 25 at 7.30pm.
Other highlights include new trio Warmer Than Blood; highly acclaimed Birmingham-born jazz pianist Reuben James; the Paula Gardiner Quartet and the Romarna Campbell Trio. Tickets and information about Jazz Fest are available HERE
Ikon in the 1990s
Birmingham’s iconic art gallery takes visitors back in time for its new summer exhibition.
A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s runs from June 18 to August 30 and features 40 artists from the gallery’s programme when it was based in John Bright Street between 1990 and 1997.
Visitors can see work by a range of eclectic artists from Basil Beattie to Lisa Milroy and the more overtly experimental practices of Georgina Starr and Mark Wallinger.
Ikon’s 90s programme, which also championed video, film and photography, featured a number of local artists associated with diaspora communities, including Permindar Kaur, Keith Piper and Donald Rodney.
The free exhibition is at Ikon in Brindleyplace, which it moved to in 1999. Find out more HERE
Outdoor movies and music at Botanical Gardens
Sit back amongst the fauna of the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston to enjoy outdoor movies, theatre and music this summer.
Jurassic Park, Dirty Dancing, In The Heights and The Greatest Showman will all be screened outdoors between August 17 and 20 at the Open Air Cinema.
There’s also two theatre shows to enjoy in the grounds with The Jungle Book on July 22 and The Three Musketeers on August 11.
A series of outdoor music shows cater for a variety of tastes from The Whiskey Brothers on June 20 to The David Moore Blues Band on June 27 and tribute act 21st Century Abba on August 8. Find out more about all the outdoor shows at The Botanical Gardens website HERE
RSC returns with outdoor performances
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has created a special outdoor stage for its summer production of The Comedy of Errors.
Outdoor performances of Shakespeare’s farce about mistaken identity will take place at the specially constructed Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, in the Swan Theatre Gardens, Stratford upon Avon, from July 13 to September 26.
Over the summer, the RSC will also have free pop-up performances, interactive workshops and outdoor performances for families from July 27 to August 20 on the Bancroft Terrace and across the newly installed Garden Theatre.
The Comedy of Errors is a welcome return of RSC performances with a live audience but look out for indoor productions returning in the Autumn. Find out more at the RSC website HERE
Moseley Folk and Arts Festival
The Waterboys, Frank Turner and Richard Hawley are among the headliners at this year’s three-day Moseley Folk and Arts Festival.
Dance, sing and chill out on the grass at Moseley Park during this feel-good outdoor event as the summer comes to a close between September 3 and 5.
Passenger, Jade Bird, The Wonder Stuff and Gruff Rhys will also be entertaining crowds for the festival’s return that includes a wealth of bars and street food stalls.
Tickets sell out fast, so book now at the Moseley Folk and Arts Festival website here for day, weekend, family and caravan passes HERE
Birmingham Heritage Walking Tours
This is an ideal way to get to know your city better while spending time outdoors in the sunshine.
Fascinating guide Kevin Thomas leads Birmingham Heritage Walking Tours offering insightful and funny stories on the heritage of this great city from Banksy to custard.
There’s a wide range to choose from including discover the catacombs, art deco buildings in the Jewellery Quarter, the lost pubs of the city centre and even a tour about Digbeth, gargoyles, Brylcreem and riots.
It’s a fun and entertaining way to spend a few hours and guaranteed to educate even the most ardent Brummies on Birmingham’s proud history by telling stories through the buildings, people and spaces.
Find out more and book a tour from the Birmingham Walking Tours website HERE
Digbeth Fun Fair
Scream if you want to go faster at this massive fun fair in the heart of Digbeth.
From the team that brings the annual Ice Skate Birmingham, this spectacular attraction has rides from across Europe spread across three areas – Extreme, Family and Kids zones.
Daredevils can fly 60m high on the Sky Flier, take a jump on an elastic bungee or get their heart racing on other other attractions including the Dominator.
For something more sedate, take in the views from The Big Wheel that makes its return to Birmingham or take a spin on the Waltzers.
During poor weather, the fair sometimes needs to close early, so it is worth checking opening times on the Digbeth Fun Fair’s social media account or website HERE
Thinktank’s Our Changing Planet
Delve into a world of wonder with a new gallery at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum.
The Our Changing Planet gallery is the latest addition at the award-winning museum at a time when climate change has become a global priority. Exhibits show how humans have changed the world and how these changes are affecting the wildlife around us.
There are over 150 fascinating items in the new gallery in Millennium Point from pre-historic tools to the first plastic invented in Birmingham and part of the first computer used at Longbridge’s motor factory. While a green sea turtle, corals, platypus and other vulnerable species will illustrate how humanity’s impact on the natural world has intensified through time.
Elsewhere in Thinktank is an array of interactive displays from steam engines to a Mini Brum and spectacular Planetarium shows over four floors and 10 galleries. Find out more HERE
Mission Critical Exhibition
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, this outdoor photography exhibition showcases real-life stories from those who have been saved.
The Mission Critical Exhibition will run across the region over the summer including in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square from June 25 to 28 and at Lichfield’s Cars in the Park event from July 3 to 4.
Discover enthralling unique stories told through the lens by fashion and lifestyle photographer Nik Hartley, who has worked with British Vogue and Vanity Fair France. Find out more HERE
Coventry City of Culture
Take a day trip to Coventry to revel in its packed programme of arts, film, music and theatre as it celebrates being the UK’s City of Culture.
There’s plenty to dip into over the summer and into next year, including the Turner Prize 2021 for visual arts, which presents its annual exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum from September 29 to January 12.
An eclectic mix of events range from A Big Foodie Weekend with a DJ set by Spice Girl Melanie C and performance from M People’s Heather Small and more at the Bull Yard from 6pm on July 23 to art installation Observations on Being at London Road Cemetery and Charterhouse Heritage Park.
The art installation by Marshmallow Laser Feast runs from June 22 to August 15 and is one of the first large-scale visual arts commissions to be unveiled as part Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.
Take a look at the wealth of events taking place for Coventry City of Culture HERE
42nd Warwick Folk Festival
Warwick Folk Festival returns for its 42nd year with social distancing measures and headline acts of Seth Lakeman, Will Pound and award-winning Nancy Kerr.
Enjoy folk music, dance, camping and celebrations from July 15 to 18 at a new venue in Castle Park, next to Warwick Castle and with stunning views across the River Avon.
Other acts include Show of Hands, The Young’uns, John Spiers, Jon Boden, Boundless Brothers and Janice Burns while revellers will have craft, food and cocktail stalls to also keep them entertained.
Younger visitors have a programme of activities aimed at 12 to 18 year olds to explore that features festival favourites Panic Circus, puppetry from Hand to Mouth Theatre and Wolly the Clown.
There’s more to enjoy in nearby Warwick town centre, where pub music sessions and open-air concerts are planned. Find out more about festival tickets HERE
Titanic: Honour & Glory brings to life the history of the legendary ocean liner at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum this summer.
The exhibition features one of the largest collections of rare Titanic and White Star Line artefacts in the world along with props and costumes from the famous Titanic movie starring Kate Winslet including the Heart of the Ocean necklace.
Among the exhibits is a nameplate from one of Titanic’s lifeboats, china dinner plates upon which the first meals were served aboard the liner and rare examples of in memoriam tributes made in the aftermath of the sinking.
The free exhibition runs until September 11 at the museum in Foregate Street, Worcester. Find out more HERE