Birmingham buildings exterior

BIMM Cities / Freshers Guides

Freshers Guide to Birmingham

17th July 2024

The UK’s second city is packed with vibrancy and culture, boasting a buzzing creative quarter, and beautiful canals – yep, we’re talking about Birmingham.

With a year-long programme of phenomenal festivals and plenty more opportunities in Birmingham, you’ll be spoilt for choice here. Young, progressive, experimental – there aren’t many better places to study than Birmingham.

Birmingham graffiti

The City of Birmingham

You only need to scratch the surface to see that Birmingham is a city with so much to shout about. The city boasts more canals than Venice (yes, really!), more Michelin-star restaurants than any other UK city besides London, and some of the country’s busiest theatres (The Alexandra and The Hippodrome).

Birmingham city is also home to the youngest population in Europe. With its unrivalled nightlife and clubs in Birmingham, world-class library facilities and a programme of inner-city festivals, this city is made for its students. Pride Festival, Flatpack Film Festival, B-Side Hip Hop Festival, Birmingham Film Festival and Chinese New Year are just a few that you won’t want to miss.

The Mockingbird in Digbeth is a great independent cinema. Although Digbeth might be best known for Peaky Blinders, the area has also attracted filmmaking legends for productions such as Ready Player One, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Girl with All the Gifts; even the latest Mission Impossible movie was partially shot here.

Birmingham Nightlife

There is always a show happening in Birmingham. You are spoilt for choice sometimes. Some student favourites to play and watch live music are The Institute, Dead Wax, The Hare and Hounds, and The Sunflower Lounge. It’s guaranteed that you’ll bump into another BIMM University student. Better still, they’ll be the ones on stage. More significant international acts are usually found at Resorts World and the Utilita Arena. Neighbourhood has a Jam Night, which is a must; it’s pretty much an evening of insanely passionate people playing music, a must-see even if you don’t feel like performing.

Whatever mood you’re in, Birmingham’s music bars, pubs, and venues have always got plenty going on. If you want to listen to a local DJ over a pint go to The Night Owl, which has a fun sprung wooden dance floor where you can party to energetic Northern Soul. As well as its incredible live music scene, Birmingham boasts an impressive programme of annual festivals such as MADE, Moseley Folk, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul, and Páirc Festival, covering many genres.

Pub interior Birmingham

The Food and Drink

You’ll find food festivals serving quality food at student prices throughout the city and farmers’ markets like Moseley’s, which have the best fresh local produce. Right here in Digbeth, next to our campus, you’ll have fun food outlets like Rico Libre, Chance and Counters (also a board game café!) and Baked in Brick.

Birmingham boasts multiple Michelin-star restaurants for more expensive tastes – or special occasions – including Purnell’s and Simpsons.

Of course, there are fast food joints like Five Guys, Popeye’s, Roscoe’s, and all the other well-known high street chains to suit any budget. Oh, and we hear our neighbours Kanteen serve some of the city’s best vegan sausage rolls and subs. You’re welcome, plant lovers. Comptoir Libanais in Grand Central has the best Lebanese food in the city. Original Patty Men have your burger needs covered. There’s a crazy golf place in Digbeth called Golf Fang; it’s very popular amongst students for a cheap and fun night out.

The Shopping

You can get your retail fix in Birmingham’s iconic Bullring Centre, with its 110,000 square-metre retail space, including the attention-grabbing exterior of the Selfridges store with its 15,000 aluminium disks.

Home to the largest Chinatown outside of London and the biggest jewellery quarter in Europe, it’s easy to see why Birmingham is one of England’s top three most visited places to shop. Support the city’s local retailers at The Custard Factory, and get down to PMT or Fair Deal Music for any music equipment you need. COW Vintage is also a students’ favourite for finding clothes, and Red Brick Market is for bits and bobs.

Cow statue in yellow outfit, sunglasses and 'Croc' shoes in Birmingham

The Outdoors

Birmingham has more parks than any other European city of its size, ten of which boast the prestigious Green Flag Award. Cannon Hill Park is one of the city’s most famous spaces, spanning 250 acres, including woodland and sports spaces. During the summer, this is the place for boating, fishing, bowls, tennis, putting, picnics and more.

St. Phillips Cathedral grounds are right in the city centre, known to locals as ‘Pigeon Park’, and are a prime spot for outdoor relaxation between shopping and dining. You can also get your fresh air fix at Sutton Park (the largest urban nature reserve in Europe) and the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which dates back to the Victorian era. Metal fans, you are advised to check out the Black Sabbath bridge.

Check out more about this amazing city on our Life in Birmingham page.





BIMM University

BIMM University provides an extensive range of courses in modern music, performing arts, filmmaking, and creative technology to over 8,000 students across 14 schools in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. We have a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality in creative industries education, allowing students to maximise their career potential in an inclusive community built on a culture of shared passion, creativity, and collaboration. Berlin | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Dublin | Essex | London | Manchester