Birmingham Weekender update

Festival is the result of a new and unique partnership between Birmingham’s retail and cultural sectors.

Birmingham Weekender launch. Expect the unexpected on the streets of the City. Highly Sprung's Urban Astronaut. Photo by Jas Sansi.

Birmingham’s leading arts organisations are working with the city’s retailers to deliver Birmingham Weekender in a new and unprecented level of partnership.

Birmingham Weekender – Birmingham’s largest free arts festival – will see over 100 performances and events take place in Birmingham’s shopping district and civic areas between Friday 25th and Sunday 27th September. Musicians from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will take up residency at the Mailbox, Birmingham Royal Ballet will perform a duet from Swan Lake in the Bullring, and Birmingham Opera Company will pop-up in the Bull Ring markets. Trapeze artists and Asian dance will animate New Street and Corporation Street, and shoppers visiting the newly opened Grand Central shopping centre will be entertained by street theatre and music.

Birmingham’s retailers have invested 20% of the £500k budget for Birmingham Weekender, and have made many more contributions in kind, for example by offering performance space in shops and cafes. In return, the city’s arts organisations expect to draw significant numbers of festival-goers who will provide an economic boost to the city-centre.

Steve Hewlett, Retail Birmingham BID Manager, commented: “Birmingham Weekender will be a great boost to visitors coming to the city during September and highlights the important cross-over between Birmingham’s cultural and retail offer in positioning the city as a must-visit destination. September will be a huge month for shopping in Birmingham with the much anticipated launch of Grand Central and the redeveloped Mailbox plus the return of Retail Birmingham’s flagship fashion and shopping event, Style Birmingham Live.”

Birmingham Weekender is produced by Birmingham Hippodrome on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership, the network of high-profile arts organisations in the city. This is the second time that BAP has come together to produce a significant free festival, having organised the 4 Squares Weekender in 2013 to celebrate the opening of the Library of Birmingham.

Graham Callister, Director of Creative Programmes, Birmingham Hippodrome said: “This significant level of investment from our private partners proves how important the cultural sector is to Birmingham’s economic life. Birmingham is now firmly established as a major UK visitor destination and Birmingham Weekender demonstrates perfectly the diversity, quality and strength of the city’s cultural, shopping, culinary and sporting offer. I hope that Birmingham Weekender will be a great platform for future festivals and creative ventures.”

Birmingham Weekender co-incides with the opening of the newly transformed New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre as well as Style Birmingham Live and the Rugby World Cup. It is expected that many thousands of people will visit Birmingham over the weekend, which has been dubbed ‘Super September’.

In addition to performances in the retail area, there will be free performances Brindleyplace, Centenary Square and Victoria Square. The festival’s highlight is Maudits Sonnants, an after-dark spectacular in which trapezists, dancers, musicians and pyrotechnicians will perform whilst hanging 55 metres above Centenary Square.

Birmingham Weekender forms part of BAP’s long term intention to take a greater leadership role in developing Greater Birmingham’s cultural offer and bring new funding streams into the arts. BAP is also involved with developing the skills of young people hoping to enter the cultural sector, and runs the Arts Connect programme with the University of Wolverhampton, linking children and young people with art and artists.