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Birmingham Weekender - Free Outdoor Festival

Home > Birmingham > Festivals | Free | Performing Arts
by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Mexican Block Party, Ballet, Opera & Dance
Birmingham's largest arts festival is set to showcase the best culture and arts that the city has to offer in September - and it's all for free.

Birmingham Weekender1
Motionhouse dancers Martina Bussi and Alisdair Stuart who star in Birmingham Weekender


Birmingham Weekender is a weekend of world-leading free outdoor performances, art and entertainment across the city that will enthrall families from September 25 to 27.

Not only will that weekend include world premieres, pop-up street theatre and a musical picnic, but the event also coincides with other major crowd-pullers to the city of Style Birmingham Live hosted by Mark Wright and matches for the Rugby World Cup.

Style Birmingham Live will host fashion shows throughout the weekend in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's stunning Gas Hall (on September 26 & 27), while all the action from the Rugby World Cup will be shown live on big screens in Eastside City Park.

Organised by Birmingham Arts Partnership and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Weekender marks the opening of the newly transformed New Street Station and Grand Central.

Birmingham Weekender kicks off on the afternoon of Friday September 25 with performances in and around Centenary Square.

Birmingham Weekender
Featuring in Birmingham Weekender are David Gregory and Julian Atkinson of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


Highlights will include:

Of Riders and Running Horses on September 26. The project, from the acclaimed Still House, is a stirring and visceral new dance event and will be staged in the urban setting of a car-park roof. It is by theatre-maker and choreographer Dan Canham.

Birmingham Hippodrome is no stranger to presenting large-scale outdoor works, and will present Maudits Sonnants by Compagnie Transe Express on September 25 and 26. It features an orchestra of acrobatic, baroque bell-ringers playing from a musical chandelier suspended above Centenary Square in a nocturnal performance for everyone.

Some of the country's best physical theatre will be performed including Motionhouse and their signature style with awe-inspiring lifts in a duet entitled Lost.

Corey Baker Dance will entertain audiences with Kapa Haka Tale, a new commission for the festival that will transport audiences to an ancient world of the Maori art form.

Strictly Night Cycling will be a new, nocturnal version of Bicycle Ballet Company's popular choreographic work on two wheels. This street show combines entertainment with a light-hearted, road safety message to light up and be seen on bikes after dark.

Shop 'Til You Drop by RoguePlay Theatre is a striking piece of circus theatre that explores the joys and perils of shopping.

Highly Sprung's aerial Urban Astronaut explores the environmental issue of air pollution through aerial performance, and then there is Vamos Theatre's interactive, twin-set, octogenarian campaigners Crimplene Crusaders.

The world-class City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra takes up residence at The Mailbox, while Birmingham Royal Ballet artists perform at Bullring on September 26. Shoppers can listen out for music and opera in the city's cafes and shops.

Centenary Square is transformed into a Mexican day-of-the-dead block party. The party will celebrate Mexican culture through a range of activities including large skull painting, veil and headband making, lucha libre wrestlers and mask making.

Victoria Square will stage live music beside the city's iconic Town Hall and Council House for the Musical Picnic on September 26 & 27. The event will showcase an impressive range of musical styles in an all-day festival atmosphere. There will also presentations from The Drum, Birmingham Opera Company and DanceXchange.

Birmingham Weekender, free arts festival, September
Birmingham shoppers will be entertained by Highly Sprung's Urban Astronaut


Imagineer's Godiva Odyssey - a beautiful six metre tall puppet - will awake in Birmingham through a short performance before taking a stroll to explore her new landscape, greeting and meeting audiences and visitors to the city along her mechanical way.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre will throw open its doors to allow everyone to see behind-the-scenes, and activities for young people and families continue with Toy Theatre Project where children aged 7-12 will work with an independent playwright to create plays for a toy theatre in a 90 minute workshop. Children will become directors, stage managers or sound operators as they rehearse professional actors into the roles they've created.

There will also be new commissions from Birmingham Repertory Theatre with Mem Morrison Company, while Sampad Arts has organised events with poet Amerah Saleh and Barbara Nice, in association with Women & Theatre.

Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, said: "Birmingham Weekender is a celebration of the spirit and cultural energy of our city. Over the three days a wealth of performance, creativity and art found inside our much-loved arts organisations will spill out across the civic centre, streets and shopping centres of Birmingham for everyone to enjoy.

"This programme features world premieres and innovative work that has originated here in Birmingham alongside international performances. It will be packed with street theatre, outdoor performances and an amazing line-up including music, dance, visual arts, food and a dedicated family programme.

"For audiences it will be a real adventure. Each day of the weekend offers wonderfully life-enriching experiences and we hope people visiting, or simply stumbling across the Birmingham Weekender, take the chance to savour this moment."

Surprise acrobatics, circus, street theatre and much more will be roaming the city centre from Grand Central, Bullring, Mailbox and central shopping area to Brindleyplace throughout the Birmingham Weekender.

How to get involved with Birmingham Weekender
Follow @BhamWeekender on Twitter for regular updates or viisit the Birmingham Weekender website.
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Why? Free arts and culture festival across Birmingham
When: September 25 - 27
Where: Across Birmingham city centre
Cost: Free
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