Birmingham's Events and Festivals

Birmingham’s cultural calendar is packed with events to suit all ages and tastes. Its vibrant arts scene and bustling nightlife are complemented by annual festivals and shows in every possible area, from gastronomy and gardening to music and comedy. We give you here a preview of the town’s best known events.

Birmingham Festivals and Events

Crufts Dog Show: The world’s largest dog show is held every year in March. Its ever-increasing popularity means that the finale is even broadcast on Channel 4.

Held every June, BBC Gardeners’ World Live includes the RHS Flower Show, a competition for the Midlands’ Best Community Garden, and plenty of handy advice by top gardeners including Monty Don and Diarmuid Gavin.

ArtsFest is a free event taking place during the second weekend of September at various venues. Every year, this family-friendly festival attracts about 3,000 artists and more than 250,000 visitors. Highlights have included the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Paralympics closing ceremony.

Classic Motor Show: car aficionados don’t need to look any further. During three days, there are plenty of opportunities to admire some of the 1,400 vintage, film and racing cars and bikes. One of the popular features of the show is the “Restoration Theatre” in which experts present restoration and maintenance techniques.

Birmingham Comedy Festival is a 10-day event taking place at various venues every October. It features both a range of local acts and well-known figures such as Frankie Boyle and Michael McIntyre. There are also opportunities to see plays and cabaret, listen to concerts, and even attend a magic show.

In the summer, the International Jazz & Blues Festival offers over 150 performances, many of which are free. There is jazz to suit every taste – ragtime, hard bop, blues, swing, jazz fusion and more.

Late-summer favourite Moseley Folk Festival is a truly magical event held in the beautiful 11-acre Moseley Park. It offers a weekend of family-friendly fun packed with headline acts such as John Lee Hooker and Badly Drawn Boy.

The Birmingham Pride is the biggest LGBT event in the UK. Every year, it features a parade, cabaret and a host of other musical events, most of which can be enjoyed for free.

Birmingham event locations and dates

EventLocationDateDistance from Birmingham Airport
Crufts Dog ShowNEC Arena9th-12th March1.2 miles
BBC Gardeners WorldNEC Arena15th-18th June1.2 miles
Arts Fest25th-27th SeptemberVarious venuesVarious distances
Classic Motor ShowNEC Arena11th-13th October1.2 miles
Birmingham Comedy FestivalVarious venues7th-16th OctoberVarious distances
Jazz and Blues FestivalVarious venuesJulyVarious distances
Moseley Folk FestivalMoseley ParkFirst weekend of September9.7 miles
Birmingham PrideHippodrome Theatre and nearbyLast weekend of May9.3 miles

The NEC

Many of Birmingham’s top events take place at one of Europe’s largest exhibition centres: The NEC (short for National Exhibition Centre) welcomes more than 4 million visitors every year for fair trades, concerts, large conferences and sports events. Major shows take place in the LG Arena, which can house 16,000 people. The arena has hosted performances from huge stars – Tom Jones, the Spice Girls, the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode to cite just a few.

The NEC also has fantastic on-site facilities to make the most of your visit: an ample car park (22,000 spaces!), cloakrooms, cash points, baby facilities and many food and drink outlets including Starbucks, Subway and JD Wetherspoon.

The NEC is conveniently located just a stone’s throw from Birmingham Airport.


Where to stay: Hotels and B&Bs at Birmingham

Low-cost guest houses, serviced apartments, luxury hotels… All types of accommodation are available in Birmingham. You may want to stay in the city centre, but what if you are travelling by plane to arrive in the middle of the night or have to take a very early flight?

Airport hotels can be a good hassle-free choice with lots of advantages: you can avoid last-minute problems, sort out your car rental, exchange currency and find tourist information all in the same place. There are choices for every budget close to Birmingham Airport, from the Hilton if you want to indulge in luxury to the Travelodge for a basic but perfectly functional and comfortable room.

Book NowMore information on airport hotels can be found here.


Transportation

If you plan to stay at one of the four airport hotels, it is easy enough to walk the short distance. But if you have heavy luggage, you can take the airport shuttle or a taxi. As a cheaper alternative, you can take one of the three local buses which stop at the airport.

If you are staying at one of the hotels located on-site at the NEC (Hilton, Crowne Plaza and Ramada Encore), you can use a free shuttle service, the Air-Rail Link, which leaves from Terminal 1 and operates every two minutes.

Detailed information can be found on the Birmingham transport services and Birmingham taxi services pages of this site.


Amenities & Attractions in Birmingham

Apart from its annual festivals, Birmingham is home to many attractions which are open year-round. If you are an art aficionado, why not visit one of the eight major museums and stately homes united under the banner Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery ? Together they showcase more than 500,000 objects of art dating from prehistoric times to the present.

As for nature lovers, they can’t miss a tour of the plant collection and glasshouses of the lovely Victorian Botanical Gardens.

Families will enjoy exploring Thinktank, the city’s Science Museum packed with interactive displays and boasting a state-of-art planetarium.

More information can be found on the amenities page.