features gig 



Awesome autumn for Brum

dancers for weekender

Motionhouse dancers Martina Bussi and Alasdair Stewart

25 – 27 September 2015 

BIRMINGHAM Weekender will bring together 200 artists and 70 companies in a free arts festival which will take over Birmingham City Centre in a Super September weekend of arts, shopping, sports and fashion.

It is the weekend when the new New Street Station will be revealed unadorned and the Grand Central shopping complex will open its doors for the first time.

The Rugby World Cup will already be underway with South Africa taking on Samoa at 4.45 at Villa Park on 26 September in Pool B and England hosting Wales at Twickenham at 8pm in Pool A with both matches, and all the weekend's action shown live on big screens in Eastside City Park.

For the fashionistas the weekend also sees the return of Style Birmingham Live with fashion shows throughout the weekend in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Gas Hall.  


Organised by Birmingham Arts Partnership  and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Weekender includes 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. 

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 tCBSO cellistsaking 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 popup performances across the city-centre, from Grand Central, Bullring, Mailbox and central shopping area to Brindleyplace 

In advance of London performances, mac birmingham and Fierce Festival present theatre-maker and choreographer Dan Canham’s Of Riders and Running Horses. 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. 

David Gregory and Julian Atkinson of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with something for the weekend

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. We want this weekend to demonstrate the ambition, creativity and the incredible collaboration between the city’s arts organisations both large and small. 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.”

Birmingham Weekender opens in the afternoon onurban astornaut Friday 25 September, with performances in and around Centenary Square and Fierce Festival's first presentation of Of Riders and Running Horses.

Birmingham Hippodrome is no stranger to presenting large-scale outdoor works, and during Birmingham Weekender, their presentation of Maudits Sonnants by Compagnie Transe Express will reach new heights as a huge crane suspends a musical chandelier full of awe-inspiring acrobatic musicians above Centenary Square (25 & 26 September). 

Luminous, a third new commission for the festival with Birmingham Repertory Theatre in association with Mem Morrison Company. The promenade performance will take place in the Alpha Tower area and invites audiences to discover the unknown amongst the familiar through a series of intimate performances and installations. 

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.

Highly Sprung's Urban Astronaut Photo: Andrew Fox

Participative opportunities thread throughout the festival weekend and audiences will have the opportunity to take part in Haka performance workshops.

Strictly Night Cycling, a new commission for the weekender, is an entertaining street show, combined with a light-hearted, road safety message to light up and be seen on bikes after dark.

Birmingham’s Centenary, Victoria and Oozells Squares will be hubs of cultural activities for all the family all day and through the evening of Saturday and Sunday. The year is also a dual year of  UK and Mexico, so it’s fitting that Eye Candy: Mexican Día de Muertos Block Party will celebrate Mexican culture through a range of activities including large skull painting, veil and headband making, lucha libre wrestlers and mask making.

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. 

Birmingham Weekender will shake things up by placing arts organisations, their work and exhibitions, in unusual settings. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Exhibitionist asks festival volunteers and stewards to keep small museum items in their pockets and ask members of the public to engage in a unique, one-to-one discovery experiences.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will take up residency at the newly-refurbished Mailbox, captivating shoppers and passers-by. On Saturday 26 September, visitors to the city can experience Birmingham Royal Ballet Swanning around Birmingham as the UK’s premiere touring ballet company prepares for its autumn performances of Swan Lake. 

Shoppers can pause from the hustle and bustle for a while and listen to the beautiful Requiem as a soloist from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group performs in a shop window, with the sounds of the haunting musical composition echoing around while the Town Hall Symphony Hall’s Musical Picnic in Victoria Square 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.

Ikon meanwhile will  offer a rare insight into a unique cultural experience with Berending Kumpo, an extraordinary spirit-based live show with performers from Gambia, West Africa.

The official trailer for Birmingham Weekender

 Kumpo is a masquerade figure who mysteriously appears and disappears and scares away malevolent spirits. Artefacts representing Kumpo feature in Ikon’s At Home with Vanley Burke exhibition (closes 27 September). 

Visitors can sketch their way through the city with mac birmingham and Open Draw, a free-moving ‘sketchcrawl’.  Kooky roaming music and street theatre will entertain shoppers and visitors to the city and there will be plenty of opportunities for people to exercise their own creativity, with a Culture Catwalk and workshops with, amongst others, Writing West Midlands.

A host of food, shopping and sports activity complements the arts and entertainment of Birmingham Weekender. The best street food from the region with a wide range of international cuisine will be on offer in Centenary and Victoria square and a special Caribbean barbeque at Opus Café in Oozells Square will complement the cultural offering in and around Brindleyplace. 

Birmingham expects tens of thousands of visitors across the weekend as people visit the city for Rugby World Cup matches and to experience the newly transformed New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre and Birmingham Weekender will add art and culture to entertain the crowds and provide a showcase for art and talent in the city.

Full Birmingham Weekender programme details and listings will be released in August on www.birminghamweekender.com and in the Weekender brochure, which will be widely distributed around the city.

It is envisaged it will be necessary to pre-book a small number of events due to limited spaces available, please check the website for more details.

Follow @BhamWeekender, like www.facebook.com/BhamWeekender share your photographs via www.instagram.com/bhamweekender #BhamWE


For further information on events taking place in the region this autumn, look up the Visit Birmingham website.  

 Birmingham Arts Partnership (BAP comprises 14 arts companies and venues located in and around Birmingham city centre. Its members are: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Birmingham Hippodrome,  Birmingham Museums Trust, Birmingham Opera Company,  Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet,  DanceXchange , The Drum, Ex Cathedra, Ikon, mac birmingham, Town Hall Symphony Hall and Sampad Arts. 

Feature index Home Hippodrome  Rep