If you’ve decided to move to the English city of Birmingham for your English language or higher education studies – you will want to familiarise yourself with all the fun things you can do when you’re not in class or studying! Birmingham has a rich history of innovation, inspiration and political radicalism. Although it may not have the same glamour or pull as the capital of London, there are many benefits of choosing to study in Birmingham. For one thing, the people of Birmingham are said to be some of the friendliest, so you will not struggle to feel at home in the city, regardless of where you are moving from.
It’s important to take time out from your studies – as a student you will have many classes and student activities organised by your institution. Taking the time to research what you really want to do with your free time will help keep things exciting and help you stay motivated. There are so many things to do for students in Birmingham, and below are just some of our suggestions.
1. Take a canal ride and see the city from a different perspective
Birmingham is well known for the many canals that run through the city. Unlike other major cities known for their canals (like Venice) Birmingham’s canals are a bit more discreet, as they are tucked away out of sight, and you will likely have to go looking for them! The right canal boat tour can give you an insight into Birmingham’s interesting industrial past and it’s a pleasant way to travel around the city. This is a unique chance to explore Birmingham and a great way to spend the afternoon, especially when you have friends or family come to visit.
2. Spend the day at Cannon Hill Park
Cannon Hill is just two miles from the city centre and boasts over 80 acres of soothing greenery. Known as ‘The People’s Park’ you’ll find something for everybody here - from wildlife, ponds full of ducks and several places to picnic. Inside the park you can find the Midlands Art Centre (MAC), where you can participate in classes, enjoy exhibitions and take part in some of the creative and inspirational activities that the centre runs.
3. Visit Birmingham’s iconic shopping destination
The Bullring is a giant mall including the likes of the iconic Selfridges building and ‘the Mailbox’ a sophisticated shopping destination with Harvey Nichols and an Armani shop. If you don’t fancy the posher shops, check out the Great Western Arcade.
4. Complete the Keyhunter escape room
If you enjoy mental challenges or you have completed an escape room, you are likely to have fun at the ‘Keyhunter’. Participants will be locked in a room with an hour to find the right clues to escape. It’s an interactive, adventure game and you can choose different scenarios and difficulty levels based on your experience. This is a great option for a team-building activity for a group of students.
5. Visit Cadbury World
Chocolate fans, you don’t want to miss this one! Cadbury’s is one of the most popular (and arguably one of the best) chocolate brands in the UK. Cadbury has been making chocolate in Birmingham since 1824 – so you can be sure they know what they are doing. Cadbury World is open for all of the public to visit and its only two train stops from the University of Birmingham. With an emphasis on having fun and the opportunity to make your own chocolate – Cadbury World differs from your average factory.
6. See a movie (with waiter service!) at Electric Cinema
Are you an avid movie fan? Electric Cinema is the UK’s oldest cinema, its hidden away on Station Street and perfect for those who prefer the more intimate, refined cinematic experience! People visit the cinema for its beautiful art deco interior and specially brewed craft ale, which makes the cinematic experience slightly more special than attending a large chain cinema. The cinema often runs festivals and shows both new movies and classics.
7. View art at IKON gallery and Eastside Projects
If you’re a lover of art, both these small galleries show an array of contemporary and modern art. Both galleries are open to the public and free to attend. Eastside Projects is run by artists in partnership with Birmingham City University. It’s just round the corner from the Custard Factory, in Digbeth. The IKON is based in an old schoolhouse just off Brindley Place and shows different international artists and works.
8. Visit the Botanical Gardens and find tropical plants, birds and butterflies
Nature lovers listen up, Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens consist of fifteen acres of ornamental gardens, glasshouses and exotic birds in indoor and outdoor aviaries. The tropical wildlife makes for a great day out, especially in the Summer when you can enjoy the blooming flowers and warmer weather.
9. Enjoy the local musical talent
When we think of English cities that have nurtured English rock and roll stars, we often conjure up images of London and Manchester. However, Birmingham has provided a home to many talented bands too, including UB40, Duran Duran and Black Sabbath. Today, the city has a thriving local music scene, and you can hear up-and-coming talent in some of the city’s popular venues. Depending on what you’re looking to hear, you can enjoy indie at The Sunflower Lounge, the Night Owl’s northern soul, or jazz at The Jam Café, you’ll find something interesting within walking distance of the high street.
10. Enjoy a virtual reality experience
Experiencing virtual reality is a great way to spend the afternoon – perfect for a group of students. Birmingham’s newly opened venue on Digbeth’s Floodgate Street ‘In A Box’ combines virtual reality and immersive entertainment for an exciting 4D experience for all.
So, if you’re a student in Birmingham, start doing your research to find out exactly what activities you want to do in the city. With this list of activities, you will be spoilt for choice!