With just three weeks to go, the countdown has begun to Birmingham Weekender, Birmingham’s largest arts festival which promises a weekend of world-leading free outdoor performance, art and entertainment. Birmingham Weekender will feature an awe-inspiring programme of events from hundreds of world-class West Midlands and international artists and companies.
Birmingham Weekender will showcase Birmingham’s extraordinary cultural offering to those living locally and the thousands of visitors expected to travel into the city from 25-27 September. Most of the events are free.
Birmingham Weekender opens with Dan Canham’s Of Riders and Running Horses presented by mac birmingham and Fierce Festival, a stirring and visceral new dance event staged on top of the NCP carpark on Newhall Street, next to St Paul’s Square, with amazing views of the City. This amazing performance sets the scene for a weekend of new commissions, world premieres, roaming and pop-up street theatre, a musical picnic, participative events and workshops, and much more, all animating Birmingham’s shopping and civic heart.
On Friday and Saturday evening, Birmingham Hippodrome presents Compagnie Transe Express’ Maudits Sonnants. Actors, trapezists, acrobats, bell ringers, dancers, percussionists, singers, string quartets, welders, technicians and forgers will fill Centenary Square with awe-inspiring and bewitching performances lifted 55 metres into the sky.
The weekend closes with Dub Qalander at Symphony Hall, especially created for Birmingham Weekender by The Drum, a spectacular inter-cultural performance directed by the award-winning composer and musician Simon Duggal reflecting the rich cultural diversity of Birmingham.
Organised by Birmingham Arts Partnership  and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome , for the full Birmingham Weekender programme download the brochure here. Highlights across the weekend, in addition to those above, include:
· New commissions including: Luminous by Birmingham Repertory Theatre in association with Mem Morrison, taking you on a moonlit expedition through the urban landscape; Barbara Nice’s Five minute pick-me-up will put a spring back in Birmingham’s shoppers’ step with a nice refreshing chat, you choose the subject; and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, in collaboration with Stan’s Cafe will perform a new piece of music, Requiem to Let, composed especially for an empty shop unit.
· The world-class City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra take up residence at The Mailbox, the city’s much-loved Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Bullring while Birmingham Opera Company perform The Waiter’s Revenge in the Birmingham’s rag market and Ex Cathedra give a pop up performance of Carmina Burana outside Selfridges.
· Centenary Square will welcome young people as it’s transformed into a Mexican day-of-the-dead block party with face-painting and Lucha Libre wrestlers at Mucho Brumcha alongside a showcase of the powerful and mesmorising Maori performing art kapa haka with Corey Baker Dance’s Haka Day Out.
· Victoria Square will become a music festival-within-a-festival as Town Hall & Symphony Hall transform the square into a Musical Picnic for all the family whilst Oozells Square in Brindleyplace is the perfect setting for the festival’s family craft offering featuring Graphic and Digital Stich Mash Up inviting families to watch or contribute through drawing or stitch.
· Imagineer’s Godiva Odyssey will journey to Birmingham for the first time. This 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.
· Surprise acrobatics, circus, street theatre and much more in an abundance of unexpected roaming and pop-up performances across the city-centre, from Grand Central, Bullring, Mailbox, Corporation Street and New Street to Brindleyplace.
· Following an unprecedented response to an open call-out for independent companies, Birmingham Weekender presents some of the country’s best physical theatre including: Motionhouse and their signature style with awe-inspiring lifts in a duet entitled Lost; Strictly Night Cycling, a new, nocturnal version of Bicycle Ballet Company’s popular choreographic work on two wheels; BodyGuards from InfuseDANCE will humorously control the festival crowds; watch out for Vamos Theatre’s interactive, twin-set, octogenarian campaigners Crimplene Crusaders ; Highly Sprung’s aerial Urban Astronaut will combine a unique travelling flying machine with dance resulting in audiences witnessing an astronaut flying through the city centre; and Shop ‘Til You Drop by RoguePlay Theatre, a striking piece of circus theatre, explores the joys and perils of shopping taking over Corporation Street.
As well as picking out your programme highlights, it’s worth thinking how you might refuel during Birmingham Weekender. A great selection of regional and national street food traders will set up stalls over the weekend. Find them in Centenary Square from Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, and also on Saturday and Sunday as part of the Musical Picnic in Victoria Square. Amongst others expect to find Baked in Brick, a converted classic mini serving fresh stone-baked Neopolitan pizza with a twist on the toppings; Birmingham favourite Leave it to Esmie, a Caribbean experience including giant fried dumpling burgers filled with jerk chicken and curry mutton; and Sidemoor, because what weekend would be complete without posh fish and chips.
In addition to celebrating the city’s cultural offering, Birmingham Weekender also marks the opening of the newly transformed New Street Station and Grand Central and coincides with Style Birmingham Live and the Rugby World Cup.
The official Birmingham Rugby World Cup 2015 Fanzone is free and will take over Eastside Park from Friday 18 – Sunday 20 and Wednesday 23 – Sunday 27 September. Style Birmingham Live will feature six catwalk shows across the weekend, in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s stunning Gas Hall hosted by TV presenter Mark Wright and style expert Mark Heyes.
Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre said: “Over the weekend you’ll be able to indulge in a wealth of cultural experiences that will spill out on to the city’s streets, civic spaces and shopping centres. Our programme includes theatre, music, dance, opera, circus, art, craft, literature, family events, walks, fashion, food, sport and much more. Be the first to see one of the many home-grown world premières featured in the festival alongside internationally renowned companies.
“There’s spectacle and intimacy as well as activities and performances for all ages. The festival allows you to stroll easily from one event to another and maybe stop off for a bit of shopping and something to eat in between. We promise you a real voyage of discovery where you are sure to find something to inspire and entertain or simply make you smile.”
Full Birmingham Weekender programme details, listings and our brochure can be found at www.birminghamweekender.com.
Please note, it will be necessary to pre-book a small number of events due to limited spaces available, please check the website for more details.
For further information on events taking place in the region this autumn, visit the Visit Birmingham website.
Image: Of Riders and Running Horses.
Roxana Silbert, Creative Director of Birmingham Weekender, and Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre
“Over the weekend you’ll be able to indulge in a wealth of cultural experiences that will spill out on to the city’s streets, civic spaces and shopping centres. Our programme includes theatre, music, dance, opera, circus, art, craft, literature, family events, walks, fashion, food, sport and much more. Be the first to see one of the many home-grown world premières featured in the festival alongside internationally renowned companies.