We don’t think we’ve been any prouder of our city than during last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. From art exhibitions to joining sports clubs, we all found ways to get involved and come together as a community. (We all fell in love with a mechanical bull along the way too.) Birmingham Festival 2023 will let Brummies relive the sporting fever this summer with one-year celebrations this summer.
Taking place in Centenary Square, the outdoor free festival will echo the city-centre experience of the Commonwealth Games 2022. Across 10 days (Friday, July 26 to Sunday, August 6) Birmingham Festival 2023 will reflect the diversity of Birmingham with live music and performance, creative and participatory activities, and big-screen content. Delivered by the same team behind the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Festival, expect a programme of free events that celebrate the city’s creativity ‘as a sign of its ongoing commitment to funding culture.’
Peaky Blinders creator, Steven Knight CBE said: “The Games are still very fresh in people’s minds, it was such a joyful period in the city’s history. And now, with a great team pulling out all the stops to make this year’s events a celebration of the anniversary, people will again have something to look forward to that everyone can enjoy, and it’s all FREE.”
What events can you expect at Birmingham Festival 2023?
The opening event (titled One City, A Thousand Memories) will kick Birmingham Festival 23 off from 6pm on July 28. DJ Echo Juliet and BBC Asian Network’s Bobby Friction will entertain the square until 7pm. When BBC presenter Ayo Akinwolere and Radio 1Xtra presenter Kaylee Goldingin will host a thrilling lineup that includes: Birmingham’s bhangra legend Dhol Blasters, Commonwealth Games medal-winning athletes from Team England; performances from mezzo-soprano Samantha Oxborough with The Choir With No Name and BSL choir; and some newly-commissioned short films on the big screen.
The Commonwealth Games’ cheeky mascot Perry will also be hanging around throughout the festival. Every morning Monday to Friday, you can start the day with a Sense Wellbeing Sound Bath, before enjoying Perry’s Party Picnic with a different theme every lunchtime. But there’s so much going on that we can’t list it all here!
What we can’t wait to see is award-winning saxophonist, Soweto Kinch, on July 27 at 4 am; the unmissable concert performance of Grimeboy from Casey Bailey on August 1 at 7pm; and the colouful Tirnidian dance extravaganza of Soca Ram-Jam on August 5 at 4am. Other highlights include: Journey of Light by The Seekers (August 1), Solara (July 30), The Big Fatt Dance Party (July 30), A Hologram Maze (August 1) and Sonia Sabri Company (August 3).
“The Festival is going to be wonderful,” said Cllr Jayne Francis, cabinet member for digital, culture, heritage and tourism. “10 days of brilliant, free entertainment celebrating all that is great about the city and region, showcasing the creativity across our communities. The Commonwealth Games showed Birmingham – the city and people – at its absolute best and we want to see a lasting legacy for all our residents, businesses and visitors. We’re going to show everyone, once again, how brilliant Brum is!”
The final day will surely send Birmingham Festival 23 out with a bang! Rainbow Voices, the West Midlands’ community choir for LGBTQIA+ people and their friends, will perform before a School’s Out Disco celebrates the summer holidays with cabaret. At 3 pm, Dancing to Music You Hate by Jasmine Gardosi returns to Birmingham, with everything from explosive dubstep bass lines to soaring folk violin blowing apart the boundaries of gender and musical genre alike. Then from 5pm, Next Track sees former poet laureate Casey Bailey working alongside a range of regional music, poetry and spoken word artists bringing Birmingham Festival 2023 to a close.
To see the full line-up of event head here.