Modern and wonderfully diverse, yet packed with history, Coventry City of Culture 2021 will celebrate the city’s rich and eclectic heritage. Found in the heart of the West Midlands, less than 20 miles from Birmingham, a series of citywide projects and installations will delve into city’s past, while looking to build a lasting legacy for the visitors of tomorrow. Covering everything from art and design to music and theatrical performances, Coventry City of Culture is set to get underway on 15 May.
Britain’s car industry can trace its roots to Coventry and the city’s rich manufacturing and engineering past is celebrated at the Coventry Transport Museum, where you can discover the world’s largest collection of British-made vehicles. The city is also the only place in the country to have housed three cathedrals in the last thousand years. The ruin of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in 1940 during the Second World War, now serves as a memorial space for the city and is symbolic of peace and reconciliation. Its modern counterpart, finished in 1962, stands adjacent to the 14th century ruin.
The Turner Prize, named after the renowned painter J.M.W Turner, will visit the Midlands for the first time in its history as part of the City of Culture programme. Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery and Museum will showcase works from shortlisted artists from late September until mid-January 2022, with the winner revealed on 1 December. As one of the world’s best-known prizes for visual art, the four artists to be shortlisted will be revealed in the spring.
October will also see the commencement of the third Coventry Biennial, a four-month programme of exhibitions in studios, galleries and an array of other locations across Warwickshire and the city. Titled Hyper-Possible, the 2021 edition is set to focus on the role of art and language in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the influences of the BLK Art Group in the 1980s. Comprised of four British-Caribbean artists based in the Midlands, and inspired by the Black Arts Movement in the USA, the BLK Art Group transformed the world of British art and inspired more black artists to document their experiences.
The Show Windows will see a selection of immersive installations placed in shop windows around the city from June. Created by a range of local and international architects and artists, each eye-catching piece will be designed to celebrate the locations in which they are based.
Running in June and July, The Tides Within Us is set to explore the journey of oxygen through the body, through a number of immersive audio-visual artworks. The outdoor exhibition in Charterhouse Heritage Park will be suitable for those of all ages and promises to spark the imagination. Held in the surroundings of Paxton’s Arboretum, part of the Grade I-listed London Road Cemetery created in 1847 by Joseph Paxton, the exhibition promises to be a feast for your senses.
The Walk will welcome 3.5-metre-tall puppet Little Amal to Coventry in July, as part of an International Art project taking in eight countries. Representing a young refugee, Little Amal is travelling more than 8,000km from the Turkey/Syrian border to raise awareness of the crisis facing refugees across Europe, and a series of events will take place in Coventry to mark her arrival.
Highly Sprung are also set to deliver CastAway between July and August, an outdoor theatre production exploring the impact of plastic pollution on the world’s waterways. As part of a collaboration with the Canal & River Trust, the performance will seek to raise awareness with eye-catching visuals and street performances to capture your imagination.
A virtual announcement for the 2021 International Booker Prize will also be made from the city, marking the first time it will be made outside London. The Coventry Big Booker Read will follow, with people invited to read the winning novel across the city.
CVX Festival is a three-day event coinciding with International Youth Day on 12 August, which will work with young people to explore themes around community and social change. Alongside live music co-produced by rapper and songwriter Jay-1, you can expect a number of workshops, talks and other performances.
Coventry’s very own musician, Terry Hall, the lead singer of The Specials, is also set to lead a programme of intimate gigs and events to showcase the city’s musical past. Taking place in July, Terry Hall Presents Home Sessions will span three days, with ticket details announced in due course.
Other events include the Theatre of Wandering, Small Bells Ring, Roundabout and Rivers of the World, with more details and further events to be revealed soon.
You are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as events and details are subject to change.