City breaks are the perfect way to escape the humdrum for a few days, soak up some culture and earn a few cosmopolitan points. We all love the idea of jetting off somewhere, but before you do, dont forget about old Blighty. With enough history, culture and entertainment to keep you busy for a lifetime, our cities are some of the best.
Among these, is Englands second favourite city, Birmingham. Birmingham has been all too often overlooked as a cultural destination in the past, but spend a weekend in this historic and vibrant city and see how today, its bursting at the cultural seams. Visiting and staying in the city is easy and accommodating. Birmingham hotels, restaurants and activities are less expensive and more accessible than in the capital, and cheap hotels, travel and entertainment make a visit more enjoyable too.
Birmingham has been at the forefront of global innovation since its leading role in the industrial revolution. Even though the city may be moving away from its industrial roots, it is proud to preserve its heritage.
While Birmingham is a confident player in the international arts and culture scenes, the city has an undeniable reputation for home-grown talent. In 2012 Birmingham will pay homage to its most famous export, Shakespeare, and play host to the World Shakespeare Festival. Running from April to November, theres really no excuse to miss it, and an easy day trip from Birmingham, Shakespeares own Stratford-upon-Avon will be the epicentre for the festival.
Delving further into its past, the city of a thousand trades offers a host of other historical attractions, including tours of the famous jewellery quarter, the beautiful preserved arts and crafts, Winterbourne House and Botanical Gardens, and the Black Country Museum, a celebration of the citys industrial heritage.
But dont be fooled into thinking this is a city lost in its own history. Birmingham has grown into a diverse and cosmopolitan city, now home to world-class theatres, galleries, music venues and festivals. Birminghams iconic Selfridges building at the heart of the city is a testament to modernity and diversity. Birmingham embraces the modern elsewhere too - the Ikon gallery is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art gallery, showcasing some of the most important modern art from around the world. Theres more traditional, contemporary and modern art and culture to be found at every turn, from classic music, to modern dance, from art deco cinemas to state of-the-art arenas, that make Birmingham a truly vibrant, exciting and culturally rich city to visit.