Midlands – Birmingham

1. Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum and IMAX cinema
Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum and IMAX cinema is a great family day out. Explore Birmingham’s incredible industrial heritage with real steam engines, cars, bikes and planes. Investigate the present in the Medicine Matters gallery, or explore the diversity of life found on earth in the Wild Life gallery. With a total of ten, themed, hands on galleries, fabulous IMAX Cinema and a digital planetarium, Thinktank is full of imaginative and exciting exhibits that will challenge and inspire you.

2. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is particularly admired for its Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings and boasts the largest collection in the world. Diverse and fascinating objects reside here, from bronze buddhas to Egyptian mummies, and a range of temporary exhibitions takes place throughout the year. The collections cover fine art from the 14th century onwards, applied arts like ceramics and metalwork, and historic collections ranging from local archaeology to world cultures.

3. Alfred Bird Custard Factory Arts Complex
Built over 100 years ago the Custard Factory Arts Complex is the original former home of the famous Bird’s Custard. It is now home to an inspiring hive of young creative companies, galleries, fine artists, independent shops and terrific restaurants. A number of live music venues are also located here. See plays, events, painting, sculpture and photography at one of the nine dedicated gallery spaces, or simply browse through the shops and enjoy the nightlife.

4. Cadbury World
Cadbury World is a fun, educational multimedia attraction dedicated to the story of Cadbury and chocolate. You can learn all about the history of the company, and see how cocoa is sourced and made into chocolate in the Aztec Jungle. See how the importance of transport links and logistics affects the business and understand the impact that the two world wars had on production. Most importantly of all, sample the products at the world’s biggest Cadbury shop!

5. The Ikon Gallery
Housed in the neo-Gothic Oozel Street School, the Ikon Gallery has an artistic programme ranging from temporary exhibitions in the gallery to projects in Birmingham’s Eastside, as well as off-site education programmes. The gallery features a diverse range of temporary exhibitions, from contemporary sculpture, painting and installations, to photography and antique woodcuts. Within the building is Cafe Ikon, a Spanish restaurant serving specialities including tapas and paella.

6. Shopping in Birmingham
The landmark Selfridges department store building makes a bold statement about Birmingham’s intentions to attract consumers to the city centre, and has helped to create a buzz about the place that is mirrored by other outlets. With other luxury stores such as Harvey Nichols and a variety of smaller designer boutiques, Birmingham is a great place for a spot of retail therapy. Check out the Custard Factory Arts Complex for independent clothing and fashion shops.

7. The Birmingham Back to Backs
The Birmingham Back to Backs are intimately recreated everyday dwellings showing how ordinary people lived. Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to back housing covers four different periods, from 1840 to 1977, with the design of each interior reflecting the varied cultures, religions and professions of the families who made their homes here. Thousands of houses like these were built for the rapidly increasing population of Britain’s expanding industrial towns in the 19th century.

8. Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Since being founded in 1913, Birmingham Repertory Theatre has been a leading national company. It has introduced a range of new and foreign plays to the British theatre repertoire, and has been a springboard for many internationally acclaimed actors, designers and directors. On average there are about twenty productions every year. These range from family shows, musical theatre and Christmas plays, to edgy contempory work and classics by Chekhov and Shakespeare.

9. Gas Street Basin Canal Trips
Take a canal cruise from the Gas Street Basin, and journey through the heart of old industrial Birmingham. In days gone by this was the hub of a thriving canal transport network and would have been alive with the sound of cargoes being loaded and unloaded. Today, the bars and restaurants of Brindleyplace cluster around this attractive basin where traditional narrowboats can be seen to form an unique experience where industrial heritage meets modern, cosmopolitan living.

10. Soho House
It was in the dining room of this elegant 18th century house that Matthew Boulton, one of Britain’s first industrialists, entertained the leading scientists and inventors of the industrial age. Boulton’s guests included James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestly. They were collectively known as the Lunar Society and Soho House was one of the venues where they discussed ideas and presented discoveries that continue to affect our lives today. Facilities include a cafe and shop.

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