The most wonderful time of the year is upon us once again.
As we all wonder where the last year went, and everyone is caught up in a flurry of overdue catch-ups with friends and work Christmas parties, it’s a busy time of year for us all. If you’re looking for something to do this December, we have some excellent suggestions for you, some Christmas-related and some not, but all a great way to spend some of your precious time and support some wonderful independent businesses in the process. Read on for our pick of the very best things to do in Birmingham this December.
Explore Two New Exhibitions at BMAG – From 7 December
The wonderful Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is hosting two unmissable new exhibitions, both beginning on 7 December 2019.
Dressed to the Nines is all about dressing up and going out from 1850 to the present day, and the role clothing plays in special occasions (from balls to a night on the town). Featuring a collection of garments, accessories and full outfits from the city’s dress collection, alongside paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, this exhibition is perfect for anyone with a passion for fashion.
Birmingham Revolutions – Power to the People will explore the vibrant and varied history of protest and activism in Birmingham, and the role the city played in some of the most important campaigns and movements in British history. Art, film, music, literature, clothing and objects will be used to show the different voices and ideas that have contributed to the fight for a better Birmingham.
Both exhibitions are FREE to enter and run until 4 September 2020 – so you have plenty of time to pop in and explore them both.
Digmas – 7-8 December
The annual celebration of all things festive in Birmingham’s creative quarter is back, and bigger and better than ever. Confirmed for this year’s Christmas extravaganza are: Breakfast With Santa at Baked In Brick, Festive Films at The Mockingbird Cinema, wreath making workshops at Ridding & Wynn, Santa’s Disco at Stag Digbeth, a winter crafts market and loads more. With plenty of family-friendly fun, as well as lots for the grown ups to do too, this is a wonderful chance to support and celebrate some fantastic local businesses and have festive fun at the same time.
Emma’s Tapas And Sangria Pop-Up At Little Blackwood – 17-18 December
Most of you will probably know Emma as the owner of El Borracho De Oro, the wonderful Spanish restaurant that sadly closed its doors earlier this year. For those of you who are already missing El B and the fantastically authentic Spanish food they served, this is your opportunity to get one last taste of Emma’s amazing tapas. Emma is popping up at Little Blackwood to serve a tapas menu of delicious Spanish-influenced bites and Spanish drinks, including the classic Sangria. This is an unmissable opportunity to enjoy some seriously tasty food and have one last treat before Christmas. Book your table now here.
Winter Craft Market at Ikon – 12 December
The annual winter craft market at Ikon Gallery is a wonderful opportunity to browse and buy unique gifts from talented local artists, designers and makers. With loads of stalls set across both floors of the gallery, you can shop ’til you drop with local favourites (including Brumhaus, Abbie Gaiger and Punks and Chancers), along with many more. With artisan food and drink, as well as stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery to gifts, cards and books – you can do all of your Christmas shopping in one fell swoop and tick off everyone on your list. Well done you. Find out more here.
To read our guide to even more alternative Christmas markets where you can shop local, click here.
HARBORNE HANDMADE CHRISTMAS MARKET – 8 December
Another independent craft market for your Christmas present and supporting local needs, but this time in Harborne. Harborne Handmade Christmas Market takes place on Sunday 8 December at Moor Pool Hall (a short walk from Harborne High Street). Featuring 26 local makers (CAKE by Lil’s Parlour, Frilly Industries, and Punks and Chancers all included), this indie market is the ideal place to pick up a wonderfully-creative gift for that special someone in your life (or, you know, just for yourself – if you want a new t-shirt, some jewellery, or to upgrade your home with a new print).
Harborne Handmade Christmas Market takes place from 10am-4pm, and is FREE ENTRY.
Apres Ski – 6-7 December
On 6-7 December, slap on your salopettes and head to Apres Ski Party. We’re hailing it as THE party of the festive season. Expect: loads of beer, winter cocktails, mulled wine, rum-spiked hot chocolates, molten cheese fondue platters (complete with artisan bread, cured meats, pickles, smoked sausages, vegetables, and potatoes), cheesy hotdogs, veggie hotdogs, fried chicken, epic waffles, live music, karaoke, party games (think adult pass-the-parcel with adult prizes, if you catch our drift), a ‘best dressed’ competition and more.
Grab your tickets for this unmissable event now here.
BAGS FOR BRUMMIES – December
Want to do something selfless this festive season? Love Brum’s Bags For Brummies is back, once again collecting essential items to help our city’s most vulnerable during these brutally cold months.
The rules are simple: collect the items found on this list, drop them off at the Zellig Building Reception in Digbeth (between 25 November and 11 December), and Love Brum will bag up these much-needed items and hand them out to the homeless community at SIFA Fireside’s annual Christmas lunch.
Help make a difference this festive season.
More info here.
Christmas at The Electric – from 5 December
Photo: Joe Flynn
From Die Hard to Home Alone, Elf to The Muppet Christmas Carol, you can catch all of your festive favourites at The UK’s oldest working cinema this December. Grab a friend, or a loved one, and head to The Electric Cinema to catch all the Christmas classics on the big screen. If you’re feeling adventurous, book tickets to one of their special events too. Enjoy Love Actually with Gin Tasting (5 December), White Christmas with Wine (8 December), or It’s A Wonderful Life with Wine (15 December) – and enjoy a festive tipple alongside one of these classic movies. Book a festive film now, here.
Remember you can enjoy concessionary rate tickets (saving £3 or more per ticket) for any screenings/events that offer concessionary rates (Sunday – Thursday) at The Electric with the Independent Birmingham App.
Birmingham Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome – 22 November – 14 December
Photo: BELLA KOTAK
They don’t come more festive than catching a performance of The Nutcracker. The extremely talented dancers of the Birmingham Royal Ballet are once again taking to the stage at Birmingham Hippodrome to bring the beautiful tale of The Nutcracker to life. Enjoy a magical start to your Christmas as you watch this unmissable show, which is sure to put you in the festive spirit and fill you with Christmas cheer. Grab your last minute tickets now, and don’t miss out.
CBSO: Friday Night Classics – Star Wars at Symphony Hall – 13 December
Photo: Verity Milligan
The biggest event of the year is nearly upon us. No, we’re not talking about Christmas, or the general election. We’re talking about the end of an era, a saga drawing to a conclusion: the final instalment of Star Wars. The Rise of Skywalker will be in cinemas in a few short weeks and we have the perfect event for any Star Wars fan. To build the excitement and get you fully hyped for the final film of the franchise, Symphony Hall are hosting a Star Wars soundtrack extravaganza. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will be recapping the whole saga so far from The Phantom Menace to The Last Jedi, as they play the most captivating tracks from the legendary soundtrack, live on stage. Grab your compulsory tickets now, here.
Heavy Beat Christmas House Party at Hare & Hounds – 19 December
Local favourites Heavy Beat Brass Band are back at the legendary Hare & Hounds pub in Kings Heath for a Christmas party like no other. Known for their New Orleans style and party anthems, they’ll be raising the roof and getting everyone up on their feet to party the night away in style. Playing a range of party tunes, and with special guests (including The Cool Beans Roadshow!) joining them, this is more than just a gig. Expect Christmas music, Christmas comedy, party games, dance-offs, limbo, and even Christmas cake.
Don’t miss out and grab your tickets now, here.
NEW OPENINGS IN BRUM – December
It seems that almost weekly we’re hearing about thrilling new additions to Brum’s independent scene – and we love it. We get all tingly inside when we hear about new indie businesses wanting to invest in this city and add to our already marvellous independent scene. All eyes are on Birmingham, and there’s nowhere more exciting to live and work right now than in our fair city.
So if you’re looking for a dose of newness this December, here’s who you need to be visiting: Henman and Cooper (a new bar and rooftop terrace occupying the building where once The Bureau resided – think cocktails and a view); Saint Kitchen (this JQ coffee shop is under new ownership and boasting a re-vamp – think epic brunches and delicious coffee); The Birmingham Brewing Company (no, it’s not new but they’re moving to a new taproom in Stirchley and it’s going to be amazing – think new taproom, same awesome beers); Dark Bull Vintage (a newly opened vintage clothes shop in Digbeth – think preloved and vintage clothing and accessories); Craft English Garden (opening in January 2020, this will be a really exciting new addition to the city – think a highly Instagrammable flower-adorned cocktail garden in the heart of the city).
Excited? Us too. Make sure you go and give each of these fantastic new businesses a warm welcome to the city. Supporting local has never been more fun!
Your LAST Chance to Get An IBcard – December
Earlier in the year we announced our most exciting move to date – our very own app! The IB App gives you instant access to the 120+ discounts and deals on the IBcard, right at your fingertips, but also gives you the chance to search for your favourite indies, instantly view a full list of the 120+ independents offering discounts and deals, view the independents on an interactive map of the city, find out more about each one (so you can discover new independents, and rediscover old favourites), and filter the deals by category, area, and days of the week.
The response so far has been amazing, and already thousands of you are enjoying using the IB App – so we’ve taken the decision that from the New Year we will be going solely app based, and discontinuing the IBcard. It’s had a fantastic run over the last five years (with tens of thousands of IBcards having been sold to eager individuals looking to support local and rediscover their city), and we thank each and every one of you who bought one and used it to support local Brum businesses – without you, we wouldn’t be here, still championing this incredible city and shouting about the amazing local businesses that make Birmingham unique. But we’re moving with the times, and making it easier than ever to support local with the IB App.
However, we know that so many of you love to give the gift of local – so we’re still selling the IBcard over the Christmas period for those of you who want to give one as a gift this year (they make the perfect Secret Santa). All IBcards will be valid for a full 12 months, until the expiry date on the card. If you would like to give someone a whole year’s worth of amazing discounts and deals at over 120 of Birmingham’s very best independent cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, pubs, cinemas, hotels, shops and experiences this Christmas, you can do so here.
Enjoy up to 20% off (alongside exclusive 2-for-1 offers, freebies and more) at: Digbeth Dining Club, The Electric Cinema, The Wilderness, Carters, The Indian Brewery, Birmingham Hippodrome, Adam’s, 18/81, Zindiya, The Meat Shack, Baked In Brick, Harborne Kitchen, BoneHead, Purnell’s Restaurant, Chakana, Tiger Bites Pig, Bodega Bar And Cantina, Stirchley Wines And Spirits, Wayland’s Yard, Legna, Purnell’s Bistro, Buffalo and Rye, Midlands Arts Centre, Gaijin Sushi, 40 St Paul’s, The Plough, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Jekyll And Hyde, Bourne and Co., The Rose Villa Tavern, Cherry Reds, The Prince of Wales, The Loft, Laghi’s Deli, Medicine Bakery, The Paper Duck, The Clean Kilo, The Early Bird Bakery and many, many more.
If your card is due to expire, or you want to become a new member through the IB App, you can do so here.