What to do outside of the Conservative Conference

(Illustrator | Tracy Worrall)

5 minute read

Freshly hosted by the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham is more beautiful than ever. As well as trendy bars and outstanding museums, the city’s industrial heritage legacy includes the Jewelery Quarter and the home of chocolate Cadbury. Tali Fraser shows us around.


Many of Birmingham’s top attractions are clustered within walking distance of each other, which is convenient for sightseeing during breaks between Conference events.

While the well-known claim that the extent of Birmingham’s canals exceed those of Venice may be overstated, a narrowboat tour is still a fun way to take in the sights of the city. One-hour heritage tours are organized by Sherborne Wharf Narrowboatsdeparture from the moorings of the International Congress Center and departure from the quay every day at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

What better way to satisfy a sweet tooth than a trip to Cadbury World? Be sure to visit the demo area to sample the products before heading to the world’s largest Cadbury store, with exclusive chocolate creations.

The website of Old Bird Custard Factory is now a hub for creatives and independent businesses. Just opposite The Bullring, it is home to wonderful galleries, boutiques, cafes, where you can stroll and shop for hours, as well as the Mockingbird Cinema.

The Icon Gallery is beautiful, inside and out. Housed in a Grade II listed neo-Gothic school building, it is hosting a number of contemporary art exhibitions this month, including the first solo show by an indigenous Ainu artist in the UK and a new work by the artist Farwa, based in Birmingham. Moledina on the women promised to paradise in the Islamic tradition. Admission is free and there’s a lovely cafe to provide you with all-day brunch.

A “national treasure” according to English Heritage, the Jewelers’ quarter has the largest collection of jewelry companies in Europe. With more than 200 listed buildings, it is also home to many museums such as the Jewelery Quarter Museumthe pen museum and Newman Brothers Coffin Works. If none of that suits you, there are also a number of shops, galleries and restaurants.


There is no shortage of cool and eclectic bars and pubs in Birmingham.

Boasting the title of “City of 1,000 Trades” during the Industrial Revolution, the Birmingham bar of the same name is pretty cool. Supply of organic wines and local beers, 1,000 professions has great drinks, food and DJs.

Digbeth dead wax was renovated in 2019 and has improved since then. Perfect for music fans with a collection of 4,000 vinyl records; order a craft beer and a stone-baked pizza to enjoy in the courtyard.

Found at the Grand Hotel, which has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill to Malcolm X, Bar of the Madeleine has a relaxed, luxurious feel with velvet seating and low chandeliers.

Tilt is an unconventional bar located in the City Arcade. Its three floors house no less than 19 pinball machines – they all need changing, so be sure to bring £1 and £2 coins. The bar has great drinks and also makes good coffee.

Tucked away in the basement of the Burlington Arcade, opposite New Street station, is Bacchus bar. Easy to miss, it’s worth a visit for the intrigue of its goofy decor. Only one thing, there is almost no phone signal: ideal if you want to get away from the radar, not if your deputy tries to call you.

If you fancy a super fun night out, try The Village Inn. Lively every day of the week, it’s one of Birmingham’s most popular cabaret bars in the gay village and hosts some of the best drag acts in the whole country.


Birmingham is for everyone. Home to the second highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK, with five in total, as well as the famous Balti Triangle and now many independent restaurants and street food from around the world, it truly is a foodie’s paradise. .

Birmingham is known for its Balti triangle of fantastic curry houses south of the city centre. Shababs has been open since the 1980s, as has watan royalwhile Shahi Nan Kebab House and Monkey Raja are also the best recommendations.

Bistro Pierre & The Canal House is a very sweet hidden gem located on the canal side of town. Spread over two floors with a bistro, bar and heated roof terrace, it serves highly recommended French cuisine.

For a quick but delicious lunch, try 200 degrees on Colmore Row, where you can grab a huge gourmet sandwich with toppings of roasted broccoli, sweet potato falafel, slow-roasted tomatoes and more. The cafe is located under Birmingham’s famous Grand Hotel, facing the city’s cathedral.

Not far from the congress center is Ju Ju’s Cafe, sitting next to the canal. The independent, family-run restaurant specializes in good old-fashioned home cooking, with corned beef open sandwiches, hummus, and smaller plates like bean and chili nachos.

If you’ve had too much lukewarm white wine and you’re feeling the effects in the morning, go to Medicine Bakery. On the first floor of the former Royal Society of Birmingham Artists, the bakery offers delicious cakes, pastries and sandwiches, as well as great coffee to replenish your energy.

Right next to New Street station you will find The tiger bites the pig, a delicious Chinese bao bar. It’s a small space but it has delicious food options and great beer.


The Commonwealth Games may be over, but the sport goes on.

Birmingham is home to Edgbaston, the base of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and the venue for a number of fixtures in England. It’s one of the best proving grounds in the country, but unfortunately there are no facilities or behind-the-scenes tours during the conference, so that requires a return trip!

Villa Park is delighted with the exploits of Aston Villa since 1897. You can take a tour of the 42,000 capacity stadium from £17, including a pitchside walk.

Birmingham also has West Bromwich Albionwho have played at their current stadium The Hawthorns since 1900, and City of Birminghamwho have called St Andrews home since 1906. Unfortunately, neither have a game during the Conference.

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