Legendary teams, game-changing history and iconic sporting venues…there are many reasons to explore the West Midlands. And as visitors travelling to the 2022 Commonwealth Games will see, sport is just the beginning! From ancient castles and Michelin-starred dining to some of Britain’s best shopping, here we reveal the icons that put the region on the map, as well as its lesser-known gems.
Like… Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter
The national epicentre for jewellery production for more than 250 years and home to more than 700 jewellers and independent retailers, the Jewellery Quarter is located just to the north-west of Birmingham’s city centre and produces an estimated 40% of Britain’s jewellery. In addition to gems of all shapes and sizes, it offers an abundance of unique shopping experiences, as well as a mix of pubs, cafés, galleries and museums.
Love… bohemian Digbeth
Alongside street food by Digbeth Dining Club, this bohemian hot spot just a 15-minute walk from Birmingham city centre is home to independent shops, cinemas and arts venues, not to mention Peaky Tours, a journey through the people and places behind the hit Peaky Blinders TV series!
Like… Shakespeare’s birthplace
William Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon explores the early life of the world’s most famous playwright and features a range of artefacts. Wandering around Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – the former home of his wife-to-be – also provides a glimpse into Elizabethan life and the Bard’s future marriage.
Love… performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company
Set on the banks of the River Avon, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon seats more than 1,000. The grand building is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company which regularly brings the works of the Bard to life - including Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet - close to where the great playwright was born.
Like… Warwick Castle
Visitors can journey through more than 1,100 years of Britain’s past at Warwick Castle, as they wander the battlements, enjoy historic re-enactments, and see the castle’s resident Bowman showing off his archery skills. Adventurers can get lost in the Horrible Histories maze and embark on an immersive journey through the Castle Dungeon, before finishing the day with a medieval glamping experience, with guests able to stay the night within the castle grounds.
Love… reliving Elizabethan life at Kenilworth Castle
History buffs can walk in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle, just a short train ride from Coventry. From its roots as a medieval fortress which saw England’s longest siege, to its time as one of the grandest Elizabethan palaces, the Castle is steeped in tales of royalty, treachery and love.
Like… exploring Villa Park
The home of Aston Villa since 1897, Villa Park is one of Britain’s oldest stadiums and sits in the shadow of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home. Visitors can go behind-the-scenes on a stadium tour and learn more about one of the 12 founding clubs of Britain’s football league in 1888.
Love… touring Molineux
As another of the founding clubs, Wolverhampton Wanderers have played at Molineux Stadium since it was constructed in 1889. An immersive football museum – the only one of its type in the Midlands – delves into the club’s past and features an interactive Games Zone alongside a Hall of Fame.
Like… the Balti Triangle
The Balti Triangle is an area close to the city centre renowned for the delectable flavours of the Balti, a dish believed to have originated in Birmingham. Foodies looking to sample this local highlight can choose from a variety of family-run restaurants including the legendary Adil’s, which is said to have introduced this method of cooking to Britain in 1977.
Love… Birmingham’s Michelin-starred dining
Birmingham has five Michelin-starred restaurants, more than any British city outside of London, and visitors can look forward to sampling fine dining at any of them - from classic British cuisine with a twist at Adam’s, to the finest Indian flavours at Opheem.
Like… Coventry Cathedral
Coventry Cathedral is an enthralling mix of old and new, as its modern cathedral sits alongside the ruin of its 12th century counterpart, largely destroyed by bombing raids during the Second World War. Visitors looking for a different perspective can climb the 180+ steps of the tower, for panoramic views of the city.
Love… the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
Alongside a wide range of talks and ever-changing exhibitions, the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is also the host of the 2021 Turner Prize. Four shortlisted artists are on show from late September 2021 until mid-January 2022, with the winner announced in early December.
Like… the Bullring
Birmingham’s biggest shopping centre brings together around 150 brands under one roof, as well as a host of restaurants and other eateries. Visitors should look out for sculptor Laurence Broderick’s 2.2-metre-tall bronze Bull, which oversees the Bullring’s entrance.
Love… the Mailbox
The Mailbox is packed with high-end brands and a plethora of restaurants and bars serving up everything from colourful cocktails to delectable Indian street food. Located in the heart of the city, it’s easy to access and is just a matter of minutes from Birmingham New Street station.
Like… the Gas Street Basin
With more than 35 miles of canals in Birmingham, and more than 100 miles of waterways making up the Birmingham Canal Network, old meets new in the Gas Street Basin – here visitors can wander towpaths where industrial heritage and moored narrowboats blend with modern architecture, bars and restaurants, right in the heart of Birmingham.
Love… the Black Country Living Museum
Visitors looking for a taste of life in the Industrial Revolution can explore the open-air Black Country Living Museum. Home to a host of reconstructed shops, houses and industrial areas, the venue also includes part of the Dudley Canal which regularly features in scenes from Peaky Blinders.
Birmingham’s premier cricketing venue regularly hosts international matches and is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Birmingham Phoenix. A host venue for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, sports fans can find this historic stadium a short distance from Birmingham city centre.
Love… the Alexander Stadium
This stadium in Perry Barr, to the north of Birmingham, is being redeveloped ahead of hosting athletics at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, not to mention both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Like… Cadbury World
Cadbury World takes visitors on an immersive journey through the magic of chocolate making, from the origins of Cadbury in Birmingham in 1824 through to tasting zones, a 4D cinema experience and the world’s largest Cadbury shop!
Love… the National SEA LIFE Centre
Home to Britain’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel, the National SEA LIFE Centre in the heart of Birmingham allows visitors to get up close with sharks and a giant turtle, while also meeting the UK’s first sea otters in the Marine Mammal Facility.
Restrictions on travel to and around Britain are in place due to Covid-19. Visitors are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org