The world's largest children's music festival will take place in Birmingham for the next five years - and could become a permanent fixture in the city.

The National Festival of Music for Youth, which provides a platform each summer for 10,000 young people between the ages of four and 21 from across Britain, has been held on London's South Bank since it was first launched in 1971.

It is one of a number of annual events promoted by the charity, which also include the School Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and the Lollipop Proms in Birmingham.

Last summer the festival moved to Birmingham for the first of two years while the Royal Festival Hall is closed for a major refurbishment. This year's festival will take place from July 10-15.

Yesterday Music for Youth revealed exclusively to The Birmingham Post that the first Birmingham event had proved so successful that it was committing to the city for at least another five years.

The move is not dependent on council funding, though the organisers are hoping to raise some sponsorship from local businesses.

Larry Westland, Music for Youth's founding director, said: "I've committed Music for Youth to five years in Birmingham regardless - as far as I'm concerned, with a view to it staying here permanently.

"We held our annual general meeting this morning and everybody is cock-a-hoop about it."

The six-day event, which was previously held in all three concert venues - the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room - on the South Bank, took place in Symphony Hall, the Adrian Boult Hall and CBSO Centre last year.

This year's festival will expand into Digbeth, with rock and pop groups playing at the Barfly. This will free-up space to enable more jazz groups to take part.

Mr Westland said Birmingham was attractive because of its central location, the quality of its city centre venues and environment, and because there was greater local support for the event than in London.

"The festival has always been a fantastic occasion and it generates its own excitement, but the fact is that when it was in London it was enclosed within the walls of the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.

"But in Birmingham it was totally different - it expanded beyond the walls of the concert hall, and there is a great bunch of people to work with."

One snag identified last year was that the venues were more widely separated than in London, but Mr Westland said the problem would be solved when the Town Hall reopens next year.

"Then we will be back to where we were. Symphony Hall will be the Royal Festival Hall - only better - the Town Hall will be the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and I imagine that will be on a par, and the Adrian Boult Hall will be like the Purcell Room but better.

"And of course the Barfly is fantastic because it gives us a dedicated pop and rock venue without having to try to make more sedate venues suitable, and it enables us to really go to town on jazz.

"Last year we had applications from about 120-150 jazz ensembles and could only fit in about 20, but this time we will be able to have 40 or 50."

A new Birmingham steering group for the festival, which will include representatives from the council, venues and music groups, will have its first meeting today.

Andrew Ormston, the city council's head of arts, said he was delighted the festival had committed itself to the city.

"I put in a bit of Urban Fusion money last year to help them make it an event they felt was better, and now that sounds like money really well spent," he said.

"It is really good news for us, because we are planning to develop a music hub in the city to make sure that all the music organisations keep working together.

"If you think about the quality of Symphony Hall and organisations like the CBSO, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ex Cathedra and promoters like Birmingham Jazz, we are a music centre of national and international significance, and we need to do everything we can to get as much value from that as possible."

Andrew Jowett, director of Symphony Hall, said: "I'm highly delighted. This is a major festival that will work in Birmingham's favour and also in their favour because if we can consolidate it here we can develop it still further."