With a city as densely populated as Birmingham you can expect a few poofs about the place. In fact Birmingham has always been a hotbed of trade, with a sizable gay scene and great pride.
The pioneers of the Industrial Revolution formed the Lunar Society here - a scientific forum that spawned the world's first ever purpose built factory,
the invention of gas lighting and the mass production of the steam engine. Now OutUK's Adrian Gillan gives the gay low-down on Birmingham - capital of the West Midlands; and
England’s “second city”.
Courtesy: Marketing Birmingham
With its abundance of renovated canals, parks, imposing industrial and civic buildings and squares, Birmingham’s definitely undergone a first rate face-lift in recent years.
From the revamped Bullring Shopping Centre, complete with its space-age Selfridges flagship building, to the popular Farmers' Markets near main civic hub, Victoria Square,
there is a wide variety of shopping experiences to be had in Brum; as well as many interesting areas to visit - from modern developments like Millennium Point to heritage-steeped zones
like industrial-era Digbeth.
Other attractions include the mouth-watering Cadbury’s tour and other equally mouth-watering cultural treats like the Birmingham Royal Ballet, oft spied at the Hippodrome,
down near the gay area; the world-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in its own fabulous Symphony Hall; plus the Birmingham Rep theatre, where Laurence Olivier started
Selfridges in Birmingham.|
Courtesy: Marketing Birmingham
And - with one of the most compact, constantly re-invigorated, easily accessible and sizeable gay scenes in the land - get over the accent and you’ll soon succumb to Brum,
and all those manly Midlands men! Dozens of venues vie for attentions in a queer cluster mere yards from New Street Station. Hurst Street is surely up there with those other UK
world-class queer streets, Canal and Old Compton.
Stalwart and anchor of the scene is undoubtedly the habitually rejuvenating Village Inn in Hurst Street itself, an upmarket,
friendly gay pub pumping out music and drag into the wee small hours in its busy dance area.
The trenchantly traditional Wellington Hotel which is in Bristol Street is
an extremely welcoming pub-cum-cabaret joint. Nearby in Wrentham Street Fountain is also a hit with the older, albeit slightly cruisier, set.
Glamourous back on Hurst Street is open again, and recently refurbished. It has a Mooch bar and loads of drag acts - who could ask for more?
Sidewalk Bar is making a name for itself with people talking about brilliant and rather hot staff to match their amazing hot food, and
good music too. The outside seating is lovely on a warm summers evening.
Equator is an airy lounge bar for the full-on style set. Equally, the Loft Lounge round the corner in Bromsgrove Street
is also very popular with fab food.
Missing is worth visiting as it's a true Brum favourite and packs ‘em in -
all ages, all nights - with its busy disco and dizzy shows. Likewise, just west of Hurst Street, bar-club Chic which is in Horsefair is, for many, still the trendy king of the crop -
possibly the most stylish video bar in the land, and immensely popular with the young.
Other favourite bars on or around Hurst Street include friendly, earthy Eden Bar in Sherlock Street,
right down the end; The Fox in Lower Essex Street and Bar Jester at Holloway Circus.
Goku in his Supersaiyen Blue form from Dragon Ball
The Birmingham Gay Pride Festival and Mardi Gras Parade historically takes place over the last Bank Holiday weekend in May of each year.
This year it kicks off on Saturday 26th May with a Carnival Parade through the city centre. The parade, which sets off from Victoria Square
at 12 noon, is this year taking the theme of "Be You" with over 100 organisations taking part.
Dance, Steam, Shop
Time for some full-on clubbing! Kent Street's Nightingale or “The Gale” as it is affectionately known -
now spans more than four full decades and has recently undergone a major redevelopment to keep apace of the times. With a capacity of almost 2000 across three levels
and a lovely outside garden, it is no surprise to hear that legendary artistes, from Boney M to Boy Zone, have all appeared over the years.
Alternatively, check out nearby cruisy Boltz Club back on Lower Essex Street or
stylish The Core which is not far away on Sherlock Street.
Birmingham's two main gay saunas are Unit 2 bang in the centre; and
Spartan a little further out on George Road. For boy toys and the like it has to be Clone Zone at 84 Hurst Street - don't miss it.
Stay and Eat
Bang in the middle of Birmingham, a mere 10 minutes’ walk from the gay scene, the converted former eye hospital that is now the 66-room
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Birmingham shows off its early Victorian red-brick splendour.
It's a true gem in the city’s revitalised Jewellery Quarter.
Enter, and the old-world foyer tugs and pulls you in various directions – left into the plush champagne
and wine bar, amidst cork pops and fizz; down into the local-real-ale Pub Du Vin basement where pewter tankards clunk and clink; or through into the light and
airy central courtyard; or the spa and gym.||
Hotel du Vin
And that’s before you’ve even ascended the grand lift or plush stairways to your bedroom or roomy suite - all featuring luxurious mattresses, fine Egyptian linen,
vast baths and invigorating drench showers, not to mention plasma TVs and DVDs. That’s before you’ve got comfy at the spacious, elegant Bistro du Vin, the hotel’s
beating heart – offering a classic, French-styled, elegant-yet-informal setting for lunch or dinner, biz or pleasure. Dine on the freshest local Midlands produce,
washed down with fine wines selected by highly skilled sommeliers attuned to your every dish and wish.
You can book the Hotel du Vin at our hotel partners Booking.com. For more information about visiting Birmingham go to www.visitbirmingham.com.
Birmingham New Street station is just 1 hour 20 minutes away from London Euston, and even closer from other major UK cities, by Virgin Trains : www.virgintrains.co.uk
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Village Inn (152 Hurst Street; T: 0121 622 4742; villagebirmingham.co.uk)
Wellington Hotel (72 Bristol Street; T: 0121 622 2592; Wellington Hotel facebook)
Fountain (102 Wrentham Street; T: 0121 622 1452; thefountaininn.com)
Glamourous (The Arcadian, Hurst Street; Glamourous facebook)
Sidewalk Bar (125-131 Hurst Street; 0121 666 6220; sidewalkbirmingham.com)
Equator (123 Hurst Street; T: 0121 622 5077)
Loft Lounge (143 Bromsgrove Street; T: 0121 622 2444; theloftbrum.co.uk)
Missing (Hurst Street/Bromsgrove Street; T: 0121 622 4256; missingbar.co.uk)
Chic (28 Horsefair; T: 0121 666 6806)
Eden Bar (116 Sherlock Street; T: 0121 622 1953; theedenbar.co.uk)
The Fox (17 Lower Essex Street; T: 0121 622 3213)
Bar Jester (Holloway Circus; T: 0121 643 8344; barjester.co.uk)
Birmingham Gay Pride Festival and Mardi Gras Parade (Parade starts Victoria Square; Website)
Nightingale (Kent Street; T: 0121 622 1718; nightingaleclub.co.uk)
Boltz Club (40 Lower Essex Street; T: 0121 666 6888; boltz-club.com)
The Core (Sherlock Street; T: 0121 622 2797; Core Club facebook)
Unit 2 (Lower Essex Street; T: 0121 622 7070; Unit 2 sauna facebook)
Spartan (127 George Road; T: 0121 382 3345; spartanhealthclub.co.uk)
Clone Zone (84 Hurst Street; T: 0121 666 6640)
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Birmingham (Church Street, Birmingham B3 2NR; T: 0121 200 0600; hotelduvin.com)
Revised May 2018.