Once called the “City of a Thousand trades,” Birmingham was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution. Today it’s transforming itself into a high-tech center, and the three local universities provide plenty of fresh talent. The city has also been a training ground for some top names in music, with groups like Electric Light Orchestra, Black Sabbath, and Duran Duran all hailing from Birmingham. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, are esteemed local cultural institutions. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is best known for works by the Pre-Raphaelites in their collection. The Birmingham International Jazz Festival is held here every July.
Along Hurst, Essex and other streets not far from the famous Hippodrome Theatre in the heart of the city, the Gay Village boasts plenty of bars, pubs, cafes, clubs, and shops; great places to eat, drink and party all night. One gay sauna is located here, and there are three more in nearby suburban towns. See our map & listings page for locations and website links.
One of the biggest events for gay Brummies, the Birmingham Pride Ball held each March for 13 years. Birmingham Pride continues each May, and Shout, an annual queer festival of visual & performance arts, cabaret, film, music, theater, talks, and a gala masked ball, takes place each spring.
Birmingham International Airport is the city’s main gateway. The free Air-Rail Link monorail system connects the terminals to the train station, from which you can connect to Birmingham New Street or to London, and points in-between. Take bus number 900 to Birmingham center or Coventry; number 966 to Erdington and Solihull. Most trlps cost around £2 for a single fare. See Network for timetables. Taxis are also available.
Virgin Trains arrive at Birmingham Airport and New Street stations from London Euston. They also have direct service from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, and connections to Liverpool and Manchester. You can also book Eurostar tickets from Birmingham to Paris and Brussels by way of London, with Virgin.
London Midland trains operate from London Euston to Birmingham New Street and Airport stations, also Liverpool, plus they have commuter rail services throughout the greater Birmingham metropolitan area, and to surrounding Midlands cities.
Chiltern Railways has some cheap deals on trains from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street if you can travel early or late, for £6-9. For full info on Birmingham New Street arrivals and departures see the website of National Rail.
National Express coaches make the 2.5 to 3-hour journey from London Victoria Coach Station to Birmingham Coach Station and Birmingham Airport for as little as £5-7, depending on time and day, with advance bookings. This is the national hub of the company's coach network, so you can easily get here from most anywhere in the UK.
Buses and trams can get you around the city - see Centro to plan your trip. National Express West Midlands handles almost 80% of all local bus journeys in Birmingham. An Adult Daysaver card, with one day of unlimited regional bus travel, can be bought for £4. Around 50 small companies cover additional bus routes.
Birmingham Snow Hill station, at the city center, is the terminus for the Midland Metro light-rail tram line, with service to Wolverhampton, and other nearby towns.
Currency and Money
The pound sterling (£) is the official currency of the United Kingdom, subdivided into 100 pence. ATMs are sprinkled throughout the downtown area, in all the usual places. Contact your local bank for a possible UK bank partner to save on withdrawal fees. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted - credit cards with a smart chip and pin number, now required by some ticket machines here and in Continental Europe, can be most useful.
Media and resources
Britain has no shortage of national gay papers. See: Attitude, BOYZ, GayTimes, Gay-to-Z, and QX for gay news, reviews, club/party updates, maps, escort listings and other information on what’s going on around the country, including Birmingham.
For gay and gay-friendly business listings, with locations and website links, see our gay Birmingham map & listings page.
Going Out: Bars
Boltz Club (40 Lower Essex St), Gay Village men's bar, gay skins, oifest, Dare to Bare naked nights, leather/rubber/fetish club nights.
Equator Bar (123 Hurst St), Gay Village bar drinks, coffees/teas; select days food with all-day full-Engish bbreakfasts, burgers, paninis, wraps, veggie fare.
Fountain Inn (102 Wrentham St), downtown Men's traditional bar, nooks, dancing, hotel guestrooms with en-suite wet rooms and TV.
Fox Bar (17 Lower Essex St), Gay Village women's bar, karaoke, DJs, shows.
Missing Bar (48 Bromsgrove St), live cabaret bar in the Gay Village, drag shows.
Queens Elizabeth (23 Essex St), mixed crowd, cabaret shows, karaoke, dancing; new management.
Queer Street (10 Hurst St), Gay Village gay cocktail bar with entertainment, open from noon at city center.
Sidewalk (125-127 Hurst St), Gay Village restaurant serving lunch and dinner seven nights a week, bar/lounge with tapas.
Village Inn (152 Hurst St), gay cabaret bar in the Gay Village, drag shows, theme parties, games and contests, karaoke; open noon-4am, 5.30am on Saturdays; "Urban Underground" latest and old school R&B.
Going Out: Clubs
Bar Jester (42 Holloway Circus, Queensway), dance club and lounge, wine/champagne, games, shows, go-go boys.
Club Chic (28 Horsefair, Bristol Street), Thursday/Friday/Saturday mixed dance club, Saturday afterhours.
Club DV8 (85-87 Lower Essex St), Gay Village bar, everyone-welcome polysexual dance club, live music, smoking area.
Core (135 Sherlock St), Gay Village gay dance club, special nights, 3rd Fri XXL bear parties.
Eden Bar (116 Sherlock St), Gay Villagelive shows, cabaret, beer garden bar/smoking, sexy dancers.
Gala Casino Birmingham (84 Hill St), Centre roulette, blackjack, dice, slots; restaurant/bar.
Nightingale Club (18 Kent St), Gay Villagebig gay club, shows, dance, drag/burlesque, stars, theme parties.
Going Out: Saunas
Greenhouse (Willenhall Rd, Darlaston), Jacuzzi, steam/sauna, pool, cinema, deck, i-net, cafe/bar.
Heroes (4-5 Lower High St), Stourbridgestm/sauna, Jacuzzi, g-holes, i-net cafe, nude/fetish nights.
Spartan Health Club (127 George Rd, Erdington), steam room, sauna, gym, tanning, video lounges, WiFi.
Unit 2 Sauna (78 Lower Essex St), Gay Village steam room/sauna, Jacuzzi, cinema, TV lounge.