A weekend in Birmingham.

Whether you are a native having a staycation, or a tourist coming to the UK for a vacation, it seems that Birmingham has become one hot choice. A recent survey has put Birmingham in the Top Ten of UK cities for tourists, with people flocking to enjoy the range of restaurants, theatres, cool shopping destinations and iconic buildings.

I love Birmingham and am fiercely proud of the new developments and changes that make it such a vibrant city. I’ve put together a little list of things to see and do and places to stay in the second city.

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Where to stay

Birmingham has plenty of great hotels to stay that will suit every budget. If you are looking for a hotel in the centre of the city, the Holiday Inn, a Cairn Group Hotel, is within a couple of minutes walking distance from New Street Station, the Bullring and the Birmingham Hippodrome.  Other great hotels include celebrity haunt Malmaison, and the striking Radisson Blue.

Food

Birmingham has a thriving food scene, with every kind of cuisine, from Michelin starred restaurants to great street food. The Stable has been a great addition to Birmingham, with Pizza’s named after local attractions and 80 different sorts of Cider. Lasan is a local legend, with the best Indian Cuisine around, and if dessert is your thing, you must check out Pirlo’s, for pancakes, gelato and all kinds of naughtiness. For coffee breaks, I love Yorks Bakery, and Pho in Grand Central does scrummy Vietnamese vermicelli and Saigon Beer.

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Shopping

Birmingham is heaven for those who love retail therapy. Selfridges, John Lewis and Harvey Nichols all have stunning stores in the city, and there is the new Grand Central complex which has introduced Joules, MAC, Kiehls and Neals Yard to the city. There are also great independents in the Great Western Arcade and lots of vintage stores in the Digbeth and Custard Factory area.

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Pampering

The At One Day Spa in the Great Western Arcade is great for a quick fix treatments including hydro- facials, express nail treatments, brow treatments and de-stress massages. The Spa is open until 7pm on weekdays, and has a complimentary lunch order and collection service with Treat Greek Deli.

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Theatre

There are plenty of theatres to chose from in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, with some great shows coming up soon, including Footloose with Gareth Gates at the New Alex Theatre, The Birmingham Royal Ballet Summer season with a Shakespeare triple bill at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and the BE Fest at the Birmingham Rep.

Have you ever been to Birmingham?

Theatre tickets – A great Christmas Gift idea

I don’t mind admitting I am a bit of a theatre buff. I love nights spent at the Birmingham Hippodrome, watching the Birmingham Royal ballet perform, and also enjoy musicals and all manner of plays, from drama’s to comedies. I have a hitlist of things that I want to see at the theatre, with Wicked Musical tickets currently at the top of my wishlist for 2014. Theatre tickets and vouchers are a great idea for a special Christmas gift for a loved one, and I have detailed some of the hot tickets for 2014 below.

Some Girl I used to know

Denis Van Outen is a brilliant theatre performer, and this one-woman show, littered with hit songs and references from the 1980s promises to be both touching and funny in equal parts. If you can remember the days of taping songs from the radio, of big air and big fun, then this is definitely worth seeing. Coming to Birmingham’s Alex theatre in February.

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Dial M for Murder

I’m a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan, and a huge Grace Kelly fan, so this is a must see for me. I loved the film version of this, but did always find it a little bit ‘stagey’ – you could tell it was adapted from a stage play. This makes it a must see on an actual stage.  The play is being directed by Lucy Bailey, who has already adopted a film classic, ‘The Postman always rings twice’ for the stage, so this is all set to be a masterpiece. Can’t Wait. This is coming to the Birmingham Rep in May 2014.

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Wicked

One of the most popular musicals of all time is now doing a tour of the UK and Ireland that will make it the nationwide hot ticket for 2014. Wicked is the story before the Wizard of Oz, the story of the two witches Glinda and Elphaba, and how they came to be the good witch and the Wicked Witch of the West. Wicked has won over 90 international awards and counting, and is the musical that people go to see again and again.

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Look out for more theatre reviews coming up, a post about Ghost the musical will be on the blog later this week.