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. Cadbury World, 12 minutes by train to Bournville, is a must for all chocoholics.
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 was 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 in November.
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. By bus, take route number 900 to Birmingham center or Coventry or the number 966 to Erdington and Solihull. 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.
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.
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 £5-8, 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 £4.20. 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
Midlands Zone magazine and their website cover gay Birmingham, along with other UK cities such as Coventry, Derby, Gloucester, Leicester, Nottingham, Shrewsbury, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, and Worcester. Visit Gay Brum is another useful website.
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 -- mostly about London but sometimes including Birmingham.
See Visit Birmingham for general tourism information. The Black & White City Paper and Midlands: What's On are two more local sources for art, culture, food, drinks, news, views, reviews, music and upcoming events listings.
Gay sports? See: Birmingham Blaze Football Club; Birmingham Bulls RFC rugby team; the Moseley Shoals swimming club with their Bluefins polo team; and the OutdoorLads for hiking, biking, climbing, and kayaking,
See some hotels/guesthouses, restaurants, and performance venue suggestions, with locations and website links, at our gay Birmingham map & listings pages (which include bars, clubs, saunas and shops listed below)
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 mixed bar drinks, coffees/teas; select days food with all-day full-Engish breakfasts, 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), Birmingham's only women's bar, karaoke, DJs, shows - in the Gay Village.
Missing Bar (48 Bromsgrove St), live cabaret bar in the Gay Village; drag shows, karaoke, theme parties.
Queer Street (10 Hurst St), trendy Gay Village gay cocktail bar with entertainment, open daily from noon at the Centre.
Sidewalk (125-127 Hurst St), every day Gay Village basement restaurant, serving lunch and dinner; ground-level bar/lounge with tapas.
The Vaults (Newhall Place, Newhall Hill), gay-friendly basement restaurant and bar in the Jewellery Quarter; cosmopolitan and British classic cuisine, lounge booths.
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.
The Wellington Hotel (72 Bristol St), aka The Welly, traditional bar open daily at the edge of the Village; men/women gay/straight mixed crowd, regular cabaret shows.
Going Out: Clubs
Bar Jester (42 Holloway Circus, Queensway), dance club and lounge, wine/champagne, games, shows, go-go boys; open 'til 4am/6am weekends.
Club Chic (28 Horsefair, Bristol Street), Thursday/Friday/Saturday mixed dance club, Saturday afterhours, theme parties.
Club DV8 (16 Kent St), Thursday through Saturday Gay Village bar, 10pm-4am, everyone-welcome polysexual dance club, spacious dance floor, disco and dance to jazz and house, heated outdoor smoking area.
Grosvener Casino Birmingham (84 Hill St), 24-hour general public gaming complex at the Centre; gaming floor, restaurant, bar, smoking terrace; live games of roulette, blackjack, Punto Banco, three-card poker, plus electronic roulette, slot machines, and private gaming card room.
Loft Lounge (143 Bromsgrove St), restaurant, cocktail bar and special events venue; Sunday roasts, weddings, meetings, private parties.
Nightingale Club (18 Kent St), Gay Village gay club, largest in town, open nightly on three floors, each with smoking terrace; live shows on Saturdays, dancing, drag/burlesque, guest stars, go-go boys, theme parties.
Going Out: Saunas
Greenhouse (Willenhall Rd, Darlaston), on four floors, the largest gay sauna in the Midlands; Jacuzzi, steam room, dry sauna, indoor pool, spa pool, cinema, fetish rooms, deck, WiFi, cafe/bar, roof garden. Off the M5, northeast of Birmingham - contact the club to ask about special taxi rates from the Centre.
Heroes Health Club (4-5 Lower High St, Stourbridge), steam/sauna, Jacuzzi, g-holes, cruise room, internet cafe, coffee bar, roof garden; Dare to Bare nude/fetish nights.
Unit 2 Sauna (78 Lower Essex St), Birmingham's only downtown bathhouse, in the Gay Village; steam room and sauna, Jacuzzi, large-screen cinema, TV and coffee lounge, in/out passes.
Bullring (Moor at Park Streets), historic marketplace location, modern all-weather environment mall at the Centre, 160 stores, dozens of restaurants.
Clonezone (84 Hurst St), Gay Village shop, gay erotic toys, books, cards, aromas, fashion underwear and swim briefs, jockstraps, boots, lubes and accessories. Also Manchester, London Soho and Earls Court stores and online retail.
Prowler (29-30 Stephenson St) - CLOSED summer 2014. Stores remain open in Brighton and London Soho, with online sales.