June 8, 2018

How I spent a weekend in Birmingham

When you think of Birmingham, you don’t think of it as being a major tourist destination. I mean I think that’s fair to say.

I spent most of my teenage years travelling back and forth to Birmingham to facilitate my obsession with live music. I still vividly remember concerts in the city from seeing Editors smash up their guitars when they supported Franz Ferdinand to the excitement at seeing The Killers at the NEC.

But i’ve never really spent a considerable amount of time in the city.

That was until Emily invited me to join her and explore the city together.

We stayed at the Easyhotel around the corner from the train station – which is rather swanky I must say!

Sophie in Birmingham

Getting to grips with the city’s history

To start our Saturday off in the city we decided to visit the Back to Back houses right in the middle of Chinatown.

The Back to Back houses, run by the National Trust are the city’s last surviving court of back to back houses.

During the industrial revolution, more people moved into the large cities such as Birmingham and they needed somewhere to live. Many were housed in residences just like the back to back houses where they shared courtyards, toilets and washing facilities.

Back to back houses Birmingham

It was fascinating to hear the stories of those who lived in the houses and get an understanding of what life in a courtyard house would be like.

Read more: The year of 27

At one point we both decided that the houses wouldn’t be so bad as they were definitely bigger than our London houses!

Finding the prettiest library

Over the past couple of years, i’ve kind of become obsessed with visiting libraries while travelling. I think it’s an interesting way to see another city.

I remember spending a lot of my time at the library in my home town of Bristol when I was a kid.

Birmingham library is probably one of the prettiest i’ve been to. It’s modern but still has the old school ladders leading you up to different levels of books.

Birmingham library

We could have spent a while wandering through all of the different sections.

Also we grabbed a jacket potato (always a win) which was delicious and a bargain so would definitely recommend.

Read more: An ode to The Killers

Walking around the town centre

We walked around the city centre and somehow managed to bump into the practice run of the Commonwealth Games handover ceremony. Birmingham is set to host the next games in 2022 which I think is going to be very exciting – I love a good sporting event!

The entire area was decorated with giant shuttlecocks, rugby balls and a lot of flowers. And there seemed to be people as far as the eye can see dancing.

Birmingham city centre

We  then went for a walk and randomly found BBC Birmingham where you can wander around and meet a Dalek, see the costumes from Strictly and even pretend to present the weather – it was awesome!

When we’d had our fill of entertainment, we then walked around the canals and luckily the sun was on our side! It was a beautiful day and it honestly made me want to live on a canal boat.

Exploring the cool district of Digbeth

Street art in Digbeth, Birmingham

Digbeth is the cool district of Birmingham. I remember actually coming to the area years ago when I saw Editors play there. But it’s completely changed since my last visit.

There’s lots of great street art and graffiti everywhere and a vast amount of cool kitsch independent stores.


And a decent amount of coffee shops too. We stopped at a cake store for a chocolate brownie and a coffee which was delicious.

And then we bumped into a handmade fair with local people selling goods that they mad made from illustrations of people’s pets to beautiful paper crane earrings.

Arcade Fire

I had been counting down the days until it was time to see Arcade Fire. My buddy George told me where the best place to stand was and he was so right.

As everyone remained unaware as to what was about to happen, I was stood right next to the pink tape awaiting being as close to the band as possible. And the next minute, they’re going past RIGHT in front of me. (Part of me has always wanted to be Regine Chassagne when I grow up and being in front of her definitely affirmed that for me).

The concert was stunning. They played the new songs along with everyone’s favourites from Funeral. And then, they finished with Wake Up. And I may as well be honest, there were quite a few tears. There is nothing like the feeling of over 10,000 people with their hands in the air singing the same words. Also Wake Up is a fucking tune.

And then when it was time for the show to end, I somehow had them RIGHT in front of me again walking through the crowd as Wake Up felt like it was never going to end. To be honest I would have been okay with that.

And after that, it was time to head home and relax after a busy weekend!

I stayed at the EasyHotel Birmingham as a guest of The Cosy Traveller who was reviewing it for her site. You can read her review here

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