Best things to do in Birmingham this summer
From music to theatre to comedy, there is plenty to get up to in Birmingham this summer
Whether you’re after gigs, plays or just something to keep the kids entertained over the holidays, Birmingham has a generous helping of summer activities on offer to suit all tastes and ages.
Best for music
Indie pop and rock fans are in luck, with Glasgow’s The Fratellis arriving in town to showcase their third album (O2 Academy, 20 Aug), while singer-songwriter Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, will also be dropping by for a visit (Birmingham Town Hall, 25 Jul).
Meanwhile, the Bollywood singer, dancer and actor Atif Aslam will be performing some his biggest hits at Symphony Hall (29 Aug). And reggae fans can indulge themselves by seeing the ‘Empress’ herself, Marcia Griffiths, who sang as part of Bob Marley’s backing trio (O2 Academy, 29 Aug).
Those who simply want to check out some of the local Brummie talent should head along to the Summer Sessions on Thursdays, which feature a range of artists within the beautiful surroundings of Cannon Hill Park (Midlands Arts Centre, until 27 Aug).
Best for kids
Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and friends are available to catch on stage as part of the nationwide tour of In the Night Garden Live (Cannon Hill Park, until 25 Jul). Then there’s the theatre adaptation of popular Rudyard Kipling story The Jungle Book (Fort Dunlop, 25 Jul), while a musical retelling of The Three Little Pigs is on hand to get everyone giggling their socks off (Birmingham Town Hall, 28 Jul–2 Aug). Families that want a real laugh, however, should head to The Laughing Sole Comedy for Kids club, where the jokes are funny for all ages (Midlands Arts Centre, Sundays).
Best for theatre
Those who love musicals are spoilt for choice this summer. 42nd Street will be hitting New Alexandra Theatre next month, telling the inspirational story of Peggy Sawyer’s rise to Broadway stardom (12–15 Aug). You can also catch the stage adaptation of 90s film The Bodyguard (Birmingham Hippodrome, 5 Aug–5 Sep), or head to the hilarious Elvis Presley show Love Me Tender for a good old sing-along (New Alexandra Theatre, 24–29 Aug). If dance performances are more your style, however, then try Inala, a Zulu ballet set to the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Best for free
We don’t blame you for spending all your cash on an exotic trip away. And neither, it seems, does Birmingham, with heaps of completely free events on offer to those at the end of their bank balance. Visual art buffs can go along to the 20th-Century Portrait Prints exhibition, which explores the work of Eric Gill, Oskar Kokoschka and Richard Hamilton, and is on right through until the end of September (The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, until 28 Sep). Meanwhile, all ages can enjoy various activities at the EcoPark family fun days running throughout the summer (Hob Moor Road, various dates). It wouldn’t be summer without a festival and Simmer Down, a celebration of Birmingham’s cultural diversity, is a major highlight of the city’s calendar, paying tribute to reggae and other musical genres with live performances, and providing arts and crafts, fairground rides and food stalls for attendees (The Drum, Sun 19 Jul).
Best for comedy
With most comedians flocking up North for the Fringe, Birmingham doesn’t have the biggest selection for comedy-lovers this summer. However, Midland Arts Centre are running EdinBrum previews, where you can catch some of the funny people before they set off to Edinburgh, including Stephen Carlin and Patrick Monahan (23, 30 Jul). The Old Rep Theatre is also hosting Edinburgh previews, which will conclude with a set from BAFTA-nominated Iain Stirling (21, 23 Jul). Those who are after some new talent should head to Comedy Carousel & The Real Food Canteen, where five up-and-coming acts present their original material every week (The Glee Club, Thursdays).
See our complete list of events happening in Birmingham.