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Thousands gather for Birmingham’s biggest weekend

Thousands gather for Birmingham’s biggest weekend

🕔28.Sep 2015

An estimated audience of 150,000 people enjoyed Birmingham Weekender, the city’s biggest weekend of arts, shopping, food and sport and culmination of Super September, reports Kevin Johnson

Festival goers danced atop rooftops, paraded through city streets and soaked up the musical atmosphere.  Crowds joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in a Swan Lake Flash Flock in the Bullring, watched an astronaut fly through the markets, strutted their stuff on the Culture Catwalk,  listened to opera in coffee shops and sketched the festival en mass.

Visitors to the city were surveyed over three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), where 46% of respondents were from outside Birmingham, further establishing the city as a major cultural visitor destination with non-UK visitors  from South Africa, Northern Ireland, USA, Brazil, Iraq, Romania, Spain, India and Hong Kong.

Birmingham Weekender brought the city to life with art and culture in city squares, markets, museums and shopping spaces including the new Grand Central and New Street Station.

Organised by Birmingham Arts Partnership (BAP) and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Weekender opened with Transe Express night-time spectacular Maudits Sonnants, presented by Birmingham Hippodrome, which created a magical outdoor event in the skies over Centenary Square on Friday and Saturday seen by over 8,500 people over the two evenings.

69% of survey respondents said that the festival had improved their perception of Birmingham with 40% of survey respondents planning their trip specifically to attend Birmingham Weekender events.

Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre said:

What a weekend! I hope every person who visited Birmingham Weekender has gone away with an amazing memory of seeing something wonderful from one of the many fantastic and world-class cultural organisations who have created so many events and performances over the weekend.

Birmingham’s arts organisations, through Birmingham Arts Partnership, are leading the way in coming together to produce such a significant, and awe-inspiring, free festival, setting a precedent for Festivals of this kind regionally and nationally. Equally the level of partnership and investment from our private partners and the city’s retail sector demonstrates how important the cultural sector is to Birmingham’s economic life. Collectively we will look ahead to our next Weekender and begin to explore how we can continue to entertain, inspire and delight our audiences.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

The hugely successful Birmingham Weekender not only brings new opportunities for artists, arts organisations and producers, but attracts huge audiences to the city, benefiting the local economy.

Events like this help to shape the reputation of a city and there’s a wealth of arts and cultural organisations in Birmingham and we are proud to support so many of them.

Birmingham Weekender has certainly been a highlight in the UK’s cultural calendar.

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing and Communications at Marketing Birmingham, said:

This weekend has truly been the centrepiece of Birmingham’s Super September. The city’s most exciting weekend of the year has included the eagerly anticipated Rugby World Cup 2015, Style Birmingham, and the city’s biggest and most celebrated arts festival, Birmingham Weekender.

Birmingham now has more to offer visitors and residents than ever before. The city’s rich array of culture, coupled with the dramatic transformation of its civic landscape – which includes the redeveloped New Street Station and new Grand Central complex – has given us a city to be incredibly proud of. It’s a momentous time for Birmingham and we look forward to welcoming record numbers of visitors throughout 2015 and beyond.

Jonathan Cheetham, Chair of Retail Birmingham and general manager at Grand Central said:

September has been a landmark month for shopping in Birmingham, supported by unprecedented levels of investment in infrastructure and developments.

From the very beginning, we wanted Birmingham Weekender to highlight the important cross-over between Birmingham’s cultural and retail offer and it has done just that.

Birmingham Weekender has been a fantastic boost to visitors during this exciting time and has reinforced the city as a must-visit destination. We’re delighted to have seen it all come together successfully over the weekend.

Birmingham Weekender was supported by Birmingham City Council, Arts Council England and the European Regional Development Fund through Marketing Birmingham’s Investing in the City Region project. It was also backed by Retail Birmingham, Grand Central, The Mailbox, Bullring, Birmingham City University and Birmingham Hippodrome.

Pic: Musicians stop shoppers in their tracks at Birmingham Weekender, Verity Milligan. 

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