What better place to start than the Capital of the Midlands, with easy access from pretty much any part of the UK and abroad, Birmingham is a city on the up, having shrugged off it’s concrete jungle image, it has blossomed into one of the most forward-looking cities in the UK, going through extensive redevelopments throughout the city centre, from the dated 60’s Bullring to the Brutalist Central Library, all aspects of city life is constantly changing and evolving, making Britain’s second city a truly exciting place to visit.
Oasis Alternative Department Store
For over 40 years, Oasis has been at the heart of alternative life in Birmingham, located off Corporation street, Oasis is right in the middle of the City Centre, filled to the brim with independent retailers and artists, selling everything from rare vinyl records to animé figures, piercings to tattoos and fashions ranging from vintage hippy to underground rock attire, with new stores opening all the time, you should always make a trip to Oasis as it really is the most unique department you are likely to find, perfect if you are looking for something a little less ordinary.
If alternative fashion isn’t your cup of tea, don’t you worry, because Birmingham boasts a truly massive array of shops right in the middle of the city, from vibrant streets to hidden alleys, there are literally hundreds of places that you could go, but the best place to start is the shopping paradise that is the Bullring. After going through a massive redevelopment, the Bullring was completely rebuilt, with the concrete original making way for a much more aesthetically pleasing shopping centre, contrasting the old with the new and the bold with the understated, the Bullring is perfect place for you to start your shopping adventure, with over 160 shops, bars and restaurants, there is something there for everyone, all in one handy place.
Given that Birmingham is pretty much the spiritual home of rock, it’s of no surprise that one of the best rock clubs in the county is situated in the city, the Asylum, the biggest alternative venue in the Midlands and home to the amazing Uprawr club night.
For a club with tattoos and rock feel, the venue is extremely welcoming and I have yet to see any trouble kicking off, apart from the obligatory mosh/circle pits, that add to the atmosphere of the alternative venue, just be prepared to have an absinthe shot or two.
What do you get when you take one of the biggest mail sorting offices in the UK and a canal-side location? you get the largest mixed-use venue in the Midlands, The Mailbox is home to waterside restaurants, the BBC in the Midlands, luxury brands from Armani to Harvey Nichols and two hotels, making the Mailbox a must-visit for those who enjoy the finer things in life, you can enjoy a meal at the rooftop Marco Pierre White restaurant, then hunt for some wears at Hugo Boss, then make your way down to the nearby bars and clubs of Broad street or watching a film at the brand new cinema, before retiring for the evening at the luxury Club and Spa, this really is a one-stop for all your entertainment needs,
The Custard Factory
Described as one of the up and coming areas of Birmingham, is a multi-use venue on the site of a former Birds custard factory, home to much of the cities creative industries, such as Punch Records and Fused magazine, the Custard Factory is the place to go for the artisans among us, with art galleries, music stores, graffiti spaces and restaurants specialising in food from all over the world, if you want to see some of the things that make Birmingham one of the most exciting places to visit in 2014, then the Custard Factory has to be top of your list of places to see.
Birmingham truly is an exciting and sadly overlooked city, but with massive redevelopments over the last few years, there are many other parts of the city that just missed out, but are well worth a mention, such as the Library of Birmingham, which is the largest largest public library in the United Kingdom and the largest public cultural space in Europe, it is visually stunning inside and out, with spaces that provide unparalleled views over the city, another place worth a mention is the Electric cinema, which is the UK’s oldest working cinema, opened in 1909, it is still showing movies till this day, from the biggest blockbuster, to obscure independent films, you are guaranteed to be transported back to the golden age of cinema, you could dance the night away at the Asylum nightclub, experience the pleasures of the continent at the Frankfurt German Market or finally you could spend your day wandering around Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, Europe’s biggest concentration of businesses associated with the jewellery trade, filled with hundreds of artisans producing unique and interesting jewellery.