12 affordable things to do in Birmingham this summer


Birmingham today has shed its former image as a city of industry and is now a thriving hub of culture and entertainment – particularly during the summer months.

(Photo: Moseley Folk & Arts Festival)

A major focal point of the city is the winding network of scenic canals that are lined with trendy cafes and bars and serve to create picturesque walking routes and a calming ambience, while a myriad of prestigious cultural venues offer all-year events spanning art, music and theatre. If you’re visiting Birmingham this summer, we’ve picked out 12 things to do around the city that won’t break the bank.

Moseley Folk and Arts Festival

One of the most eagerly awaited events on Birmingham’s cultural calendar, Moseley Folk and Arts Festival hosts its 16th edition this year. Attracting a large audience of music fans and families to the picturesque suburban oasis of Moseley Pool and Park, the music and arts festival features traditional, contemporary and experimental folk music plus a busy arts programme with comedy, cabaret, crafts and more. Tickets are relatively affordable for a festival at £55 per day for adults, and just £25 for under 16s.

Moseley Park, 93B Alcester Road / 2-4 September 2022

‘Wonderland: Birmingham’s Cinema Stories’ exhibition

(Photo: Flatpack Festival / Courtesy of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)

Free to enter, the prestigious Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery plays host to regular events throughout the year. This exhibition is the culmination of an ambitious project to map all of the city’s 150+ cinemas down the years – from fairground beginnings to streamlined Odeons, and from South Asian extravaganzas to today’s pop-ups and outdoor film shows. Showcasing unseen photographs and cinema memorabilia, alongside historic magic lanterns and optical toys, the exhibition explores how cinema has shaped the streets, social lives and dreams of Birmingham natives over the past 125 years.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square / Through 30 October 2022

Jewellery Quarter

Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is fascinating to explore at any time – but particularly during the warmth of the summer. Steeped in tradition. the easily walkable district is home to more than 200 jewellers’ workshops and silversmiths which together produce around 40% of Britain’s entire home-made jewellery. There’s even a museum dedicated to this long heritage in the area, offering an inside look at the workings of the jewellery-making industry and how they’ve changed down the years. Adults tickets are £7 and £3 for kids aged 3-15.

Aston Hall

(Photo: Tony Hisgett via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

This magnificent 17th-century red-brick mansion, situated in a picturesque public park on the north side of Birmingham, is a delight to explore. Steeped in history, visitors can follow in the footsteps of royalty at the last great Jacobean houses to be built, walking through the Grade I listed building’s stunning interiors and around its pristinely landscaped grounds. Admission is £9.90 for adults and £3.30 for kids aged 3-15.

Trinity Road / Weds-Sun 11am-4pm Closed Mon-Tues

Summer in Southside

Every summer, Birmingham’s Hippodrome Square and its surrounding streets burst at the seams with incredible displays of theatre, dance, circus and music from local and international artists at this free-to-enter weekend festival. There’s pop-up performances, craft workshops, retro games, face-painting, street food, and plenty more as the area is transformed into a magical playground with something for all ages and tastes.

Birmingham Hippodrome / 12-13 July 2022

Birmingham Rum Festival

(Photo: Birmingham Rum Festival)

The Birmingham Rum Festival returns for its fifth edition in summer 2022, combining the showcasing of delicious rum with the taste of the Caribbean, against a backdrop of Latin American style and pizzazz. The one-day festival will welcome drinkers keen to learn all about where the rum in their glass came from and the rich history behind each sip. There’ll also be exotic street food with authentic Caribbean flavours, accompanied by live salsa, samba and reggae favourites. Ticket prices start at a reasonable £15.95, including a welcome drink and sampling.

The Cuban Embassy, Moseley / 2 July 2022

The Birmingham Back to Backs

Situated a quick walk from the city centre, the Birmingham Back to Backs is a unique collection of small back-to-back homes that were once ubiquitous around Birmingham. Built around a central courtyard during the mid-19th century, the homes offer a fascinating insight into the often difficult conditions in which the working classes lived. Informative displays shine a light on the workers’ important contribution to city and there’s also a traditional 1930s sweet shop and a souvenir store.

50-54 Inge Street & 55-63 Hurst Street / ddddddd

Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park

(Photo: Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park)

City zoos can often be among the pricier of urban attractions, but Birmingham is home to a wildlife conservation park that’s both packed full of exotic animals and is easy on the wallet. Perched on the edge of Cannon Hill park, among the zoo’s residents are red pandas, lemurs, and meerkats. Visitors can also take part in hands-on experiences including feeding and petting. Tickets are £7.50 for adults and £3.75 for kids aged 3-15.

Pershore Road / Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Each year the picturesque environs of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens play host to a popular Summer Screen programme, when film-lovers are invited to come and watch a movie out in the open air after dark. Viewers can find a spot to share a picnic as the sun sets over the venue, before being immersed by the large screen’s state-of-the-art audio and amazing digital projection. Adult tickets are £15.50 and £10.50 for under 18’s.

Westbourne Road / Mon-Fri 10am-6pm Sat-Sun 10am-7pm

Canal boat cruise

(Photo: Ozzy Delaney via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

For an alternative view of the city, visitors can book themselves onto a scenic trip in a narrow boat along Birmingham’s historic canal system. Helmed by an experienced boatman, you’ll start off in the city centre before traversing the outskirts of Birmingham, taking in the sights along the West Midlands canals while your skipper regales you with fun tales and fascinating facts about this magical web of urban waterways. Various themed tours are also available, including underground boat tours. Prices start from around £15 for adults, with discounts for children.

‘Abdulrazaq Awofeso: Out of Frame’ exhibition

This solo exhibition by Nigerian artist Abdulrazaq Awofeso includes a multitude of figurative sculptures made from discarded wooden pallets. Utilised to transport goods around the world, the widely used material serves to form a metaphor of human migration. Awofeso, recently arrived in Birmingham from Lagos, has individually crafted and painted each figure which represent an array of real and imagined characters, and embody the modern city, where people from all walks of life come together.

IKON Gallery, 1 Oozells Street / 10 June – 29 August 2022

Cannon Hill Park

This large public park is packed full of great things to do, from outdoor sports, games and rides, to shows and exhibitions. There’s tennis courts, lake fishing, running and cycling trails, pedal boating on the lake, a mini-golf course, a fun park with kids’ rides, and a land train that takes visitors on a leisurely tour of the park’s natural beauty. Meanwhile a tea room and cafe are on hand for refreshments.

Russell Road, Moseley / Mon-Sun 7.30am-9pm

By Paul Joseph