Life in Birmingham
The UK’s second city is packed with vibrancy and culture, boasting a buzzing creative quarter, beautiful canals, a strong musical heritage and a dynamic local music scene – yep, we’re talking about Birmingham.
In fact, some of the best new independent music is being brewed here. The underground music scene is evolving fast, experimenting and pushing boundaries.
It’s not hard to see why. Birmingham is the birthplace of many musical legends, such as heavy metal titans Judas Priest, as well as Electric Light Orchestra, Duran Duran, UB40, Jamelia and Jorja Smith. More recently, Brum’s rap scene has been making a considerable impact, with artists like Jaykae, Lady Leshurr and Mike Skinner paving the way for the next generation of musical talent.
With a year-long programme of phenomenal festivals and plenty more opportunities to see live music in Birmingham, you’ll be spoilt for choice here.
Young, progressive, experimental – there aren’t many better places to study music than Birmingham.
You only need to scratch the surface to see that Birmingham is a city with so much to shout about. Bursting at the seams with heritage and culture, the city boasts more canals than Venice (yes, really!), more Michelin-star restaurants than any other UK city besides London, and one of the country’s busiest theatres (The Alexandra).
Birmingham is also home to the youngest population in Europe. With its unrivalled nightlife and clubs in Birmingham, world-class library facilities and programme of inner-city festivals, this city is made for its students.
But, don’t just take our word for it. Hear from Cole Stock, our second-year Songwriting student, and his three reasons to study in Birmingham.
The glamour and grunge of a New York dive bar, with a strong focus on local music.
International superstars play just a ten-minute train ride away from Central Birmingham
Birmingham’s musical heritage is as diverse as its communities: from the beating drums of Bhangra to the birth of Black Sabbath, there is something for everyone.
Today on a ten-minute stroll through the city, you might hear an orchestral piece from Symphony Hall, an Indie band sound-checking in the Mama Roux’s, or the beats of the burgeoning Grime scene pouring out of a warehouse in Digbeth. Living in Birmingham introduces you to a music scene, unlike any other place in the UK.
Whatever mood you’re in, Birmingham’s music bars, pubs, and Birmingham venues have always got plenty going on. Listen to a local DJ over a pint at The Mill, get on The Night Owl’s sprung wooden dance floor and party to energetic Northern Soul, catch the best in up-and-coming new talent in The Sunflower Lounge’s basement, or find live music and club nights spanning every genre at the historic Hare & Hounds.
Birmingham Music Festivals
As well as its incredible live music scene, Birmingham boasts an impressive programme of annual festivals such as MADE, Moseley Folk, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul, and Páirc Festival, covering many genres.
You’ll find food festivals serving quality food at student prices throughout the city and farmers’ markets like Moseley’s, which have the best fresh local produce.
Right here in Digbeth, you’ll have fun food outlets like Rico Libre, Chance and Counters (also a board game café!) and Baked in Brick.
Birmingham boasts multiple Michelin-star restaurants for more expensive tastes – or special occasions – including Purnell’s and Simpsons.
Of course, there are fast food joints like Five Guys, Popeye’s, Roscoe’s, and all the other well-known high street chains to suit any budget. Oh, and we hear our neighbours Kanteen serve some of the city’s best vegan sausage rolls and subs. You’re welcome, plant lovers.
Get your retail fix in Birmingham’s iconic Bullring Centre, with its 110,000 square-metre of retail space, including the attention-grabbing exterior of the Selfridges store with its 15,000 aluminium disks.
Home to the largest Chinatown outside of London and the biggest jewellery quarter in Europe, it’s easy to see why Birmingham is one of England’s top three most visited places to shop.
Support the city’s local retailers at The Custard Factory, and get down to PMT or Fairdeal Music for any music equipment you need. COW Vintage is also a student’s favourite for finding clothes, and Red Brick Market is for bits and bobs.
Birmingham has more parks than any other European city of its size, ten of which boast the prestigious Green Flag Award.
Cannon Hill Park is one of the city’s most famous spaces, spanning 250 acres, including woodland and sports spaces. During the summer, this is the place for boating, fishing, bowls, tennis, putting, picnics and more.
St. Phillips Cathedral grounds are right in the city centre, known to locals as ‘Pigeon Park’, and are a prime spot for outdoor relaxation between shopping and dining.
You can also get your fresh air fix at Sutton Park (the largest urban nature reserve in Europe) and the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which dates back to the Victorian era.
What better way to explore the canals and wider region than by bike? There are cycle lanes or paths on many major routes into and across the city that take in some of the most beautiful parks and waterways en route. National cycle route five also runs through Birmingham.
There are buses to all suburbs and areas of Birmingham, making it a brilliant city for accessible, affordable travel. Night buses also go throughout the evening and early hours, making getting home after a night out or gig easy.
TAO taxis are Birmingham’s black cab operators. They can be hailed in the street (old school) or reached at one of the many taxi ranks throughout the city. The main taxi ranks are New Street Station, Stephenson Street and Digbeth Coach Station. You can also bell in an Uber right from your phone.
Birmingham has eight local railways that cross the city. Birmingham New Street is the largest and busiest of the three main railway stations in the city centre. It’s also the central hub of the British railway system and makes travelling throughout the UK a breeze.
Have you got a gig in the surrounding cities and towns? Midland Metro makes getting between Birmingham and Wolverhampton simple.
Birmingham has its own airport with flights worldwide. The airport is only eight miles from the city centre, making it easy to get to by train, car, or even bike if you fancy (and are going luggage-free!).
For any questions regarding Birmingham student life or if you’d like more information on how to apply to BIMM Institute Birmingham please contact our Admissions Team on 0344 2 646 666 or email [email protected].