Student City guide: Birmingham

What’s the big draw?

Birmingham sometimes gets a bad rep despite being the UK’s second city. Some cynics have even argued that the best thing to come out of Birmingham is the train to London, but this is definitely not the case! The city centre is full of shops, restaurants, clubs and music venues, while Birmingham’s cultural diversity is reflected in the arts, it’s the base of the UK’s first South Asian Music Performance and Dance company, SAMPAD, and there are annual festivals of jazz, comedy, poetry, film and literature.

What’s the nightlife like?

Symphony and Town Hall are great places to catch some live music and comedy. Bands and artists such as Fairport Convention, PJ Harvey and Laura Marling have performed here. The Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham is also host to some major events that are open to the general public, including a comedy night with The Noise Next Door and Matt Richardson, and Black Voices, an a capella group who performed during Black History Month. Some of the best places to go for an alternative night out include Snobs, which plays everything from indie hits to motown classics, and the Rainbow Warehouse, where Groove Armada, Fourtet, Gentlemen’s Dub Club and other acts have performed.


What can you do in the day?

At the Birmingham University campus, you can find the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which holds various exhibitions of traditional and contemporary art as well as classical music concerts. Just outside the centre of town, in Digbeth, there are a variety of vintage and retro shops such as Urban Village and Mr Bird’s Emporium in the Custard Factory. The Custard Factory is known as Birmingham’s creative quarter, as it also has a theatre and the Dome Club, where you can watch films in 360 degrees. The new library is also definitely worth a visit, it has everything from Feel Good Fiction sessions to yoga classes!

Where’s the best place for non-millionaires to live?

Selly Oak is where the majority of students live in Birmingham, as it’s cheap and only a five-minute walk to campus. There are many different pubs scattered across the Bristol Road, like the Bristol Pear that often hold open mic nights and comedy stand ups organised by students. There’s also an Aldi and a variety of fast food outlets, including Chick Inn and Rooster House. For booze, Drinks To Go is famous for its friendly owner who dishes out lollipops to customers. What more do you want?


  1. I live, work and play in Birmingham and I have seen it develop a lot and have challenges!! You have made some great points there… I suppose if you know the places to go in any big city you can have a good time! Thanks for sharing and great to see a post that reflects something local to me 🙂 Steve

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