Birmingham’s winters are pretty typical for central England—limited daylight hours, chilly days, and endless damp. But that doesn’t dim its charms as holiday markets come to life and dozens of indoor activities are available to huddle up with locals.
There’s no better place in the U.K. to score a one-of-a-kind gift than Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter. Local craftspeople have carried on the neighborhood’s trade for decades, with gold, silver, and diamonds shimmering on every block.
Whether you need to load up on more gifts or just want to get into the holiday spirit, the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the perfect festive stop. It’s Europe’s largest holiday market outside of Germany, and it’s tailor made for nighttime strolls.
Get a culture fix at the Midlands Arts Center, which packs in a full roster of performing arts throughout the year. It’s a great indoor option when the weather is gloomy and cold.
When spring break is in the air, taking in Brum—as the locals call Birmingham—is an even more pleasant affair. There are plenty of cool neighborhoods to explore in the city center, and historic destinations nearby that are worth a springtime day trip. And when it’s too chilly, simply pop into a pub for a warm up.
Cream Eggs and chocolate are just a few of the signs of spring and perhaps no other destination in the U.K. is as synonymous with spring as Cadbury World, just to the south of Birmingham’s City Centre.
From its humble beginnings as a one-venue film fest, the Flatpack Festival has blossomed into a major cultural moment in Birmingham, with films, performances, and visual installations all around town in May.
While you may have to look hard to spot any elves, wizards, or hobbits, a J.R.R. Tolkien tour of Moseley Bog is a must for fantasy fans, and the area is even more lush and green in springtime. The landscapes and buildings here are believed to have inspired the author’s Lord of the Rings vision.
Rain is likely if you’re visiting Brum in the spring, so take shelter with a pint or a whiskey at The Bartons Arms, which has been slinging drinks and pub fare in its elegant Victorian home for over 100 years.
The warmest temperatures of the year make walking Birmingham’s City Centre a delight. Nightlife thumps on until late, day trips out of town are less likely to get rained out, and there’s even more daylight to explore revitalized city districts.
What was once a post-industrial husk on Birmingham’s West Side is now one of its liveliest neighborhoods. The canals here are popular places to stroll, especially on a summer night, and you’ll find tons of nightclubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants (especially around the Gas Street Basin).
While the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are open year round, the entire 15-acre property is at its best in the summer. Head here for a much-needed dose of green after days spent in Brum’s hectic center.
Long summer days are the perfect time to explore Birmingham’s creative underground with a visit to the Custard Factory, in trendy Digbeth. Artists' studios and quirky shops call the area home, and street art, single-origin coffee, and hipster bars are along the streets surrounding the 100-plus-year-old building.
As the West Midlands region lights up in spectacular fall foliage, Birmingham remains a great destination despite chillier days and more frequent rain. That’s extra true for fans of spooky nights and local traditions.
With daylight dwindling, Birmingham and the West Midlands go into festival mode with Bonfire Night. The event takes place in early November and includes massive fireworks displays around the region plus carnival rides, food vendors, and—yes—bonfires.
Level up your leaf-peeping game by pairing it with a seemingly limitless list of historic castles on the way to the Shropshire Hills Area of Natural Beauty. Some of the most notable properties include Stokesay Castle, L