Brummies have it made. From great shopping streets to yummy chocolate factory tours, Ranjit Shergill rounds up a few of his favourite things to do in Birmingham.
Dubbed the UK's second city, Birmingham boasts a £189 million public library, a brand spanking new shopping centre atop the modernized New St Station, restored Victorian buildings and a new Metro tram line extension through the city's heart. Amid amazing museums and galleries, there’s a range of top notch restaurants, secret speakeasies and picturesque canals with waterside bars, cafes and restaurants. Sporting fans can attend in their thousands for the local derby football match between Birmingham City and Aston Villa or for a cricketing day out at Egdbaston. There's lots more you probably didn't know about Birmingham. Here, Ranjit Shergill delves into the past and present joys of Birmingham.
1. Gobble Brownies
Let's start with our favourite subject: chocolate. The Cadbury World factory takes you through the history of one of the most storied confectionery companies. Here you can gorge on chocolate brownie freebies along the tour, take in a tutorial in chocolate making or meet the founder Mr John Cadbury. The fun doesn't stop there as the green experience captures you on digital camera in the backdrop of Cadbury memorabilia. Those preferring a sit down experience can head to the Cadbury Cafe where you'll be spoilt for choice. Customers point endlessly at the chocolates and cakes that catch their eye so you may end up ditching that diet. Here's a tip for you: be sure to book your tickets online to take advantage of the 5% discount.
2. Battle the Bull Ring
It's not exactly what it sounds like. Whilst there is an iconic bull sculpture on display - some refer to it as Brummie the Bull - the Bull Ring is the name given to the city's most renowned shopping complex. Located in the central district of Birmingham, there are picture postcard-worthy views in the surroundings such as St Martin's Cathedral. A stone’s throw away in Spiceal Street you'll find all mainstream eateries. There is also the Birmingham Hippodrome that hosts theatre plays including all time classics such as Aladdin and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other major attractions in the vicinity is Birmingham Town Hall if you fancy catching a concert or the Thinktank museum that includes an outside science garden and digital planetarium.
3. Walk the Length of Broad Street
This is Birmingham's answer to Oxford Street but without the overcrowding or congestion charges. The name is befitting of what it has to offer, ranging from the newly built public library, canal side bars to chuckling comedy clubs. If you’ve got the hunger, there’s the highly sought after Tiger Bills restaurant where a plethora of yummy platters are on offer. A unique aspect along Broad Street is the walk of stars, where passersby can touch base with local celebrities of past and present such as singer Ozzy Osbourne. A short ride away is Victoria Park where one of the biggest Asian music festivals is held, known as the Birmingham Mela. Here you’ll also find fairground rides and homemade finger food like the most delicious samosas and bhajees. Calling the festival an extravaganza is an understatement.