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Birmingham is a bustling, lively city which boasts some of the best nightlife in the UK. Perhaps this is because all the bars, restaurants and pubs are in such close proximity to each other; perhaps it is because the city boasts 3 Universities, which means lots of easy-going, party-hard students out on the town; or perhaps it is because you can catch a taxi anywhere around the centre for less than £5. Either way, Birmingham knows how to show you a good time.
For the best nightlife listings, information and nightlife map use www.visitbirmingham.com
There are 4 main areas of nightlife in Birmingham:
Broad Street is probably the most infamous area to go for a late night drink in Birmingham. Broad Street is a 1/2 mile road that houses almost nothing but bars and clubs. This may sound like it's what you're after for a night out, but it can be very 'lively' and as a consequence you will see hoards of the local police force keeping an eye on the revelers. Broad Street is a mecca for Stag and Hen nights and also attracts many of the suburban districts of Birmingham. Much of the clientele tend to be between 18-25; although some bars are now '21 and over' in an effort to deter some of the teenage drinkers that loiter around Birmingham's Party Mile.
However, the up side of Broad Street is that there is something for almost everyone. Find the right bar(s) and you could happily spend every Friday night on Broad Street without being put off by a few trouble-makers on the streets outside. The Walkabout bar (http://www.walkabout.eu.com/venues/wa...), which is an Australian themed pub, is a good place to start if you are new to the area, or visiting for the first time. There is plenty of seating, which is in keeping with the 'pub' atmosphere, yet after 9pm many people get up and dance - turning the centre of the pub into a large dancefloor. This gives Walkabout a real party atmosphere, and is great whether you are looking to dance or just looking to have a drink and people-watch. It also has a well priced BBQ menu, until early evening. During the day you can also watch live sport on any number of HD plasmas or giant HD screens. A range of music is played; including Indie, Pop, Cheese and RnB. You can get on the Friday or Saturday night VIP guestlist via www.Facebook.com/BirminghamWalkabout.
Other places to try include Ipanema (a club/bar/restaurant serving fusion dishes); Bar Risa (a bar and nightclub playing mostly RnB, some Dance and some Commercial Chart, and is connected to Highlight Comedy Club next door) and Oh Velvet! (a friendly bar downstairs, with club upstairs). If you are after a very cosmopolitan evening, head to The Living Room at the very start of Broad Street, and providing you are dressed to impress the bouncers, you will be ushered into a plush elevator leading you into a tres chic cocktail bar and concealed restaurant. Cocktails can set you back around £7 each, and a 3 course meal for 2 can amount to around £100; so make sure you can put your money where your mouth is! If your budget does not stretch that far, but you are looking for a bite to eat, head to Shimla Pinks further down Broad Street, where you can enjoy a tasty curry before continuing your own private pub crawl.
If you want to get away from the Hen and Stag Night Brigade on Broad Street, try the bars in near by Brindley Place or Summer Row behind the library. Brindley Place runs underneath Broad Street, alongside the canal, meaning that it's the perfect place to enjoy drinks outside in the summer time. There are also some very good restaurants, including Thai Edge and Bank, as well as a very good Pizza Express.
The Mailbox is conveniently located a short walk from the city centre, behind New Street Station. It is also connected via a bridge and a pleasant pathway dotted with more bars (including a small and classy Burlesque Club) along the canal to Broad Street; meaning that a heavier night out is only a 5 minute walk away, if you should desire. The clientele in the Mailbox tend to be slighter older than those on Broad Street, and either dressed to impress or city types wearing suits for after-work drinks.
The bars and restaurants in the Mailbox are more upmarket than Broad Street. Italian restaurant Strada and tapas bar Estilio provide competent qualilty food. Cafe Lazeez is a modern Indian restaurant offering a more contemporary twist on food and decor to the many, many curry houses in Birmingham. Enjoy delicious cocktails in the bar, then head to one of the 4 private dining sections, and enjoy the confused and embarrassed apologies of the opposite gender when they enter the trendy-for-the-sake-of-being-trendy unisex bathroom. Places such as Bar-Room-Bar cater for the younger set whilst Bar Epernay and the real ale favourite Penny Blacks offer a more sedate experience.
The Arcadian - http://www.thearcadian.co.uk/
If you are looking for an alternative area which is a little more relaxed, there is the Arcadian Centre set in Birmingham's China Town, behind the Bullring shopping centre and markets. As should be expected of an area dubbed 'China Town', there is a plethora of Chinese and Cantonese restaurants to choose from. The Big Wok is extremely popular, and offers an 'all you can eat' daytime buffet from 12-5pm, with a choice of over 50 dishes, for just £4.99. If you like Japanese food, the chain restaurant Wagamama can be found en route from the Bullring to the Arcadian. Festival Balti in the Arcadian itself offers delicious Indian cuisine at very reasonable prices, with a fresh, modern interior and very friendly staff.
Parking in and around the Bullring is plentiful but can be expensive - although with a cab from any city centre hotel only costing about £5, or the 3 minute walk from the Bullring to the Arcadian being entirely cost free - there is little need to drive your car in Birmingham. The bars in the Arcadian are smaller than most of those on Broad Street, with around 200- 500 capacity. However, this does mean that the vibe is often better in the more cool, chilled-out Arcadian. Arca tends to be house music, Poppy Red is funk beats, Indi is cheesy with RnB, Loaf is soulful house, Sobar tends to have a lot to do with Birmingham's famous Money Pennies brand, and on the top balcony is Mono-Bar which is really a small nightclub. The bars are set in a circle, around a small fountain and colourful steps leading up to the Festival Balti restaurant, more bars and the exit leading to much of Birmingham's Gay Scene.
There are also bars and clubs outside and around The Arcadian centre; including a small O'Neill's and a large Reflex (fun retro/80s club). A great club to try if this is your first time in Birmingham is the newly-built OCEANA club; which boasts 5 separate bars and 2 separate dance floors each with a different world-theme, such as Aspen Ski Lodge (cosy, wood-laden bar), 70s Disco (a large room with authentic disco balls and flashing dance floor), and the Ice Room (the largest dance floor that the club offers - plays a good mix of Indie, Chart, Cheese, RnB and Dance, and even has slips of paper and little pens on the DJ booth for you to make a request or 3).
http://www.myvue.com/cinemas/location... (VUE cinema website, which gives directions to Star City)
Star City is situated in the Erdington area of Birmingham; a 10 minute drive, taxi or bus ride away from the town centre. It is a large entertainment complex, well suited for families or couples who like to act like children once in a while! It has a bowling alley, large VUE cinema, indoor mini golf for children, a massive casino for the adults and a large arcade with slot machines, games and a large bar. There are also a few restaurants, including Old Orleans and Nandos. Star City tends to close at about 11pm, even on weekends, and the usual clientele include families with children, teenagers on dates or in small groups, students (Erdington is where many Aston University students live), and young couples. If you are looking for a big night out, head to any of the areas listed above instead.
Birmingham's Gay Scene
Like any major city, Birmingham has a large gay community and a large range of bars and clubs to accommodate! Many of the gay bars in Birmingham are around The Arcadian area; specifically Hurst Street. One noteworthy bar is the Loft Lounge on Bromsgrove Street ( http://www.itchybirmingham.co.uk/venu... ), which has a modern, New York wine bar feel, with plush velvet-walled booths, crystal chandeliers and various wall-mounted plasma televisions playing a fun stream of pop videos. The menu is varied and expansive; the food delicious; the drinks reassuringly expensive; and the staff extremely friendly to all, regardless of sexual orientation. For cheap and very cheerful, try the DV8 club (and adjoining bar, Innov8) around the corner on Lower Essex Street. Here you can pay £10 for entry on Saturdays and enjoy inclusive drinks from the bar from 10pm-2am, if you can face the bar queue! If you haven't had enough to drink already, drinks cost £2 until 5am, when this pumping club closes its doors for some well deserved shut-eye. Although this is primarily a gay club, it is very hetero-friendly. In fact, it's very friendly full stop, and if you do not already know all the dance moves to every Steps song ever released, you won't have to go far to find someone willing to teach you.
Indie Music and Gig Scene
For larger bands, visit the huge NEC or slightly smaller NIA arena. For those looking for a more intimate type of gig, visit the Carling Academy in the town centre, on the way to Aston University. Aside from gigs, they also host club nights on a Friday and Saturday. Friday is Ramshackle, which is a slightly tamer indie night; whilst Saturday is Subculture, the heavier rock and metal night. Snobs nightclub is a firm student favourite on Wednesday nights, but Saturday nights are also very busy due to the 'take a fiver out with you and you'll still have change' dirt cheap drink prices.
Birmingham really does have something for everyone. With newer developments such as the famous Bullring shopping centre and the rather elite Mailbox, as well as the historic sights of places like the Jewellery Quarter, and the great transport links from New Street Station which can get you to London in just 90 minutes if you wish to make a day trip; there is plenty of things to entertain and amuse during the day time. But when night falls, Birmingham truly comes into its own. If you're planning a city break, a mad weekender, or you are here on business, Birmingham will not fail to please you.