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 £1.80 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 cheap deals on trains from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street; around US$8. 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 US$6-15, 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 subways can get you around the city. National Express West Midlands handles over 80% of all local bus journeys in Birmingham. An Adult Daysaver card, with one day of unlimited bus travel, can be bough for three pounds sixty on the bus. Around 50 small companies cover the 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 British pound is king — we mean queen. ATMs are sprinkled throughout the downtown area, in all the usual places. Contact your local bank for possible UK partners to save on withdrawal fees. A smart chip credit card with a pin number, now required by some ticket machines on this side of the pond, can also be 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.