So, with London getting busy with tourists in Christmas, where can Londoners go you ask? Why you can spend Christmas in Birmingham of course, especially if you are an avid fan of Peaky Blinders like me. This would be the perfect excuse for you to wear your wool overcoat, tweed cap and vintage pocket watch and go on a walking tour of the city. It can also be a memorable Christmas destination for the whole family. Here are a few activities I have personally enjoyed with my family when we lived in Brum for a bit.
Getting to Birmingham
There are regular trains to Birmingham from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool and almost every other city or town in the UK. You can also drive there if the weather and road conditions are good.
Where to stay in Birmingham
Most of the fancy hotels are located in Birmingham City Centre on Broad Street. You can also choose to stay in one of the leafy green villages such as Edgbaston.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is one of the largest German-style Christmas markets outside of Germany and Austria. It takes place every year in Victoria Square from 7 November to 23 December. There are stalls selling traditional German stollen cake, sausages, schnitzels and pretzels as well as a craft market selling unique handcrafts and Christmas decorations. The market also boasts rides for the little ones, live music and cosy wooden seating making it the perfect venue for the whole family. The Christmas Market is quite accessible for wheelchairs and strollers but mind you, it does get crazy busy. So it might be a good idea to go during the day when it is quieter. That way, you can move around easier and also be able to find a table to sit down for a beer or hot chocolate.
Christmas at the Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Saint Philip’s – aka Birmingham Cathedral – is a must-visit anytime you are in town. Its breathtaking stained-glass windows, peaceful churchyard and Baroque architecture will take you back in time. The cathedral is certainly a source of pride for local parishioners and does a lot to support the local community. You can check out their Christmas and Advent programme full of different activities for the whole family to enjoy such as Christmas carols, worship services, music concerts or film screenings.
Birmingham has some of the most splendid shopping hubs in the UK with hundreds of brands of fashion, beauty, jewellery, toys and technology. Bullring and Grand Central are located right next to Birmingham New Street Station. A brisk 5-minutes walk takes you to John Lewis, Selfridges and the largest Primark in the world. Resorts World Birmingham is a half hour drive from the city centre but it is worth checking out if you want some great deals. In the last couple of years, most of these stores were open until 5pm on Christmas Eve. Rest assured you can finish all your last-minute Christmas shopping!
Birmingham has a lively theatre scene all year around and Christmas is no exception. Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Arena Birmingham, and the Resorts World Arena all show pantos. Last Christmas, we really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre fondly known to locals as the Old Rep.
Family-friendly restaurants open during Christmas in Birmingham
If you think you have had enough finger food and want a proper meal sitting down, then head to one of these family-friendly Brummy favourites:
Boston Tea Party: not to be confused with the American political movement please! It is actually a chain of funky cafes and has been voted as one of the top 25 brunch places in the UK. They have branches in Harborne, Solihull, Edgbaston and Birmingham City Centre. My favourite dish has to the smoked salmon, avocado and scrambled eggs on sourdough yum! They have amazing coffee and cake too.
Damascena: an award-winning Syrian restaurant with branches in Birmingham City Centre, Moseley Village and Harborne. My husband is a huge fan of their shawarma sandwiches. Personally, I love their mezze dishes of halloumi, falafel and vine leaves. My daughter loves their “manageesh” which is a flatbread topped with feta cheese and mint leaves.
Lounges: another cool establishment with lounges all over Birmingham and their motto “Like all the comforts of home but better. Unless you have a chef and a bar in your lounge” should tell you how accommodating they are for families. I’ve been to Arco Lounge in Harborne half a dozen times and also Quinto Lounge in Sutton Coldfield. They also have more locations in Northfield, Solihull, King’s Heath and Moseley. They have everything your family loves from burgers and paninis to tapas and puddings.
Want to spend more time up North?
If you have a couple of more days, perhaps you might be interested in visiting nearby Warwick or Cheltenham. How about getting your kids this brand new book called “Where Would Santa Go?” to keep them entertained on the train journey? Wishing you a very happy Brummy Christmas!