FESTIVALS in Birmingham you should visit in 2016

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Whether it’s dance, music or art that floats your boat there’s certainly more festivals to choose from than our poor wallets can cope with. If spending a day travelling and then sleeping in a muddy field isn’t your idea of heaven – then check out these gems taking place right on your doorstep this year.

COMA’S CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FOR ALL FESTIVAL
5-6 March
University of Wolverhampton, Walsall Campus, CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Weekend ticket: £15 full price / £10 concession
Fancy something a little more participative? Well this is the festival for you. A celebration of COMA’s innovative open-score project – this festival features contemporary music with a participative approach. Join musicians from Birmingham’s Contemporary Music Group, the CoMA East Midlands and CoMA West Midlands ensembles, and contemporary choir Via Nova to rehearse, workshop and perform pieces by composers with strong CoMA associations.
Anyone aged 18+ is invited to play or sing – all participants must be able to confidently read music; experience in a choir or band/orchestra is desirable but certainly not essential to join in the fun.

WHISKEY FESTIVAL
12 March, 12-5pm
The Bond, Digbeth
Tickets: £35 general admission & £75 VIP admission
Now in its fourth year – expect hundreds of whiskeys to choose from for your sampling pleasure – please pace yourself (responsible drinking of course). The organisers promise the most ‘creative masterclasses at any festival’, street food and lots of entertainment to shake your whiskey filled glass in the air along to.
Birmingham Whisky Club members can also score VIP tickets for £31.50 (plus booking), so if you’re partial to a dram or two it might be worth investing in a year long membership.

INSOMNIA 57 – GAMING FESTIVAL
25-28 March
NEC, Birmingham
Tickets: Day visitor £27, Weekend Visitor: £57, Bring Your Own Console (BYOC): £99
Obsessed with Call of Duty, giddy about Battlefront or spend your work breaks searching Youtube for gaming hints and tips to bust out out when you get home? Well you better pencil this date in your diary. As the UK’s biggest gaming festival it features a hitlist of special guests plus LAN gaming areas, Q&A sessions, esports tournaments and an exhibition hall to spend all your hard earned cash.
With a BYOC ticket you’ll be granted access to the event for the whole weekend, 24 hours a day; with a guaranteed seat in the LAN halls to plug your gaming device into, plus access to all other areas of the event.

FLATPACK FILM FESTIVAL
19-24 April
Various venues, Birmingham
Pictured top> A real highlight in the festival calendar (pictured) and this year marks its tenth anniversary. Having carved itself a respected place in the UK’s film scene over the last decade you’ll see an eclectic lineup of new features and shorts, with a sprinkling of special guests. There’s also an array of installations, walking tours and pop-up screenings o’plenty taking place throughout the city.

BIRMINGHAM COMIC FESTIVAL
23 April
Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
Tickets: £10 standard entry ticket
A brand new event with over 100 exhibitors showcasing a range of publications, books, original art and of course – convention exclusives. There’ll be panels, cosplay and rare appearances from creators of DC, Marvel, 200AD and Beano.. A great excuse to order a costume from amazon, dust off your workwear and take on the persona of your favourite superhero for the day.

INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL (IDFB)
1-22 May
Birmingham
Tickets: various £££ depending on venue, also free performances
Produced by DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome IFDB is a major biennial festival that will provide a rare opportunity to watch world-class performances: from ballet to neoclassical, contemporary to physical theatre, hip hop to flamenco and circus all taking place in theatres and public spaces across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
A festival of UK and World exclusives, one being the world premiere of The Machine Show (Centenary Square, 11-14 May) a brand new dance and circus spectacular, with dancer and choreographer Melanie Lomoff (France) and hip-hop dance icon Salah (France), headlined with live music by the French band Rinôçérôse.

SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL
29 May
NEC, Birmingham
Tickets: General admission £46.20, including afterparty £51.70
Another festival celebrating its tenth birthday in 2016 and this year promises to be its biggest yet. With over 50 artists across 7 stages including: Panic at the Disco, New Found Glory and Four Year Strong, the organisers have this year incorporated the Genting Arena, Forum Live, Pavilions 1 & 2, plus outdoor stages.
Guest DJ’s, exclusive singings from your favourite acts, and what will promise to be a memorable afterparty.

BIRMINGHAM BEER BASH
21-23 July
Bond Co. Digbeth, Birmingham
If like us you enjoy a craft beer or two then you’ll raise your glass in appreciation of this festival. This year sees the introduction of the first Birmingham Beer Week with the Beer Bash as the pinnacle of the event. Interestingly the focus has shifted to keg beers and there’ll be a smaller number of breweries showcased at it’s 2016 event – pushing for quality over quantity. Don’t fret there’ll definitely be a beer there to tickle your tastebuds – with five sessions over three days even the biggest hopheads amongst you will rejoice.
Masterclasses, fringe events and entertainment are all part of the bash, not forgetting a range of street food to ensure you line your stomach!

Words: Kimberley Owen

AREA GUIDE > NEW CULTURE EDITION

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For the third year in a row we have teamed up with New Art West Midlands to present a special culture edition of Area Guide.

Featuring a wealth of new graduate talent New Art WM chooses the best of the graduate shows to present 4 unique curated exhibitions of work that focuses on cross-art forms. This year the exhibitions, which start this month, will take place at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, mac birmingham, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Herbert Museum & Art Gallery, Coventry.

This edition also features upcoming exhibitions, festivals and cultural events taking place from now until May.

Read the edition online here or pick up an issue at the venues mentioned above.

AREA GUIDE > November-December issue

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Check out the latest edition of AREA GUIDE – if you haven’t managed to pick up a copy yet you can read it online here.

This issue features the usual mix of Art, music, comedy and film previews alongside festive days out and cocktail features, fashion looks for A/w 2015 and our handy gift guide.

Independent food fair – tastings and talks 12-13 September

Carl Hawkins (Gin Masterclass)
Birmingham’s Indie Food Fair is back for a second year on the 12-13 September at Millennium Point in Eastside and they have some GREAT events taking place. We love the look of their tastings & talks this year…

Gin-troductions: Getting to Know Gin with Carl Hawkins
Saturday 12th, 2.00pm / Sunday 13th, 2.00pm
£12.00
Gin is a glorious spirit! Join Carl ‘Gintle-man’ Hawkins (pictured) – one of Birmingham’s master mixologists – for a tasting of special gins. You’ll also learn a bit of light-hearted history and background to the vintage drink. (3 gins, 45 mins) Continue reading

AREA GUIDE – Food and Drink issue

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For the second year running we’ve teamed up with the fab Birmingham Independent Food Fair to showcase the event and the great foodie scene in the region…

The issue is packed with info on great places to eat and drink, foodie tips and much more alongside a run down of cultural happenings for the Autumn. Enjoy!

See the online issue here or pick it up for free at venues throughout the region (cafes / bars / restaurants – see the distribution page for further info) and at the Indie Food Fair in September.