16 Nov 21 Free Things to Do in Birmingham
Birmingham might not sound like a hot destination for tourism, but don’t let first impressions fool you. There is a lot of cool things you can to do in the city from shopping to nights out. Some of them won’t even cost you a penny! From art exhibitions to music concerts and museums, there is a whole array of free things to do in Birmingham. So when are you joining in the fun?
Browse all 21 destinations or click on the shortcut names below to jump to a particular attraction.
Full List of Free Things to do in Birmingham
- 1. Aston Hall Gardens
- 2. BBC Birmingham Visitor Centre
- 3. Birmingham Cathedrals
- 4. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
- 5. BOM – Birmingham Open Media
- 6. Bullring Shopping Centre
- 7. Custard Factory
- 8. Eastside Projects
- 9. Ikon Gallery
- 10. Lapworth Museum of Geology
- 11. Library of Birmingham
- 12. Martineau Gardens
- 13. Parks & Lakes
- 14. RBSA Gallery – Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
- 15. Soho House Gardens
- 16. Symphony Hall
- 17. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
- 18. The Jewellery Quarter
- 19. The MAC
- 20. Thinktank Science Garden
- 21. Tolkien Trail – The Hobbit
Family Friendly Free Attractions
- Aston Hall Gardens
- BBC Birmingham Visitor Centre
- Eastside Projects
- Ikon Gallery
- Lapworth Museum of Geology
- Library of Birmingham
- Martineau Gardens
- Parks & Lakes
- Symphony Hall
- The MAC
- Thinktank Science Garden
1. Aston Hall Gardens
Wander around the manicured gardens of a beautiful Grade I listed Jacobean Mansion.
Aston Hall is a magnificent 17th century red-brick mansion, one of the last great Jacobean houses to be built. The house itself is a beautiful piece of architecture and while entering the mansion is by guided tour only and requires an admission fee, visiting the café and the gardens is free. You might think this doesn’t sound like much until you see them! Lady Holte’s Garden, the South Garden for the Hall, is our favourite with its manicured symmetrical patterns and water feature.
Address: Trinity Road, Aston, Birmingham B6 6JD
Opening times: Wed to Thu 11am – 4pm and first Sunday of the month (except January) 11am – 4pm, but it’s highly recommended you check the calendar for closed days as the Hall also hosts private events and is closed to the public on these occasions.
More information: Lady Holte’s Garden at Aston Hall
2. BBC Birmingham Visitor Centre
Go behind the scenes at the BBC Birmingham Visitor Centre and you will even see Dr. Who’s Tardis and the Strictly Come Dancing judges’ desk! Who said you couldn’t be on TV?
Located at level 3 of The Mailbox building, the Visitor Centre offers interactive exhibitions and allows you to taste the best BBC has to offer on content and technology. You can even see the presenters in action via a viewing window. Paid guided tours are also available if you wish to delve further behind the curtains. Definitely recommended for families or anyone interested in communications and media.
Address: The Mailbox, 7 Commercial Street, Birmingham B1 1RF
Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm
More information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/birmingham
3. Birmingham Cathedrals
Have a quiet moment admiring the beautiful architecture of Birmingham’s old Cathedrals. There are two main cathedrals in the city – St. Chad’s and St. Phillip’s.
Designed in a revived Gothic style by the same architect that designed Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, St. Chad’s has some serious credentials. It was also the first Catholic Cathedral to be built in the UK after the 16th Century Reformation.
Address: St. Chads Queensway, Birmingham B4 6EU
Opening times: Mon to Fri 7am – 5pm, Sat – 7am closing after Vigil Mass, Sun – 7am and closing after High Mass
More information: http://www.stchadscathedral.org.uk/
Also known as Birmingham Cathedral and older than St. Chad’s is St. Phillip’s Cathedral, a Grade I listed building designed in English Baroque architecture. The stained glass windows are of particular note, having been designed by none other than the master of stained glass – Edward Burne-Jones.
Address: Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB
Opening times: Mon to Fri 7.30am – 6.30pm, Sat 8.30am – 5pm, Sun 8.10am – 5.15pm
More information: http://www.birminghamcathedral.com/
4. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Visit over 40 galleries discovering the city’s history as you go along.
Located inside a Grade II* listed building, the building itself is a landmark. Home to art, social history, archaeology and ethnography exhibitions, permanent exhibits include the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection of paintings in the world and the history of the Stafford Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. There is also a calendar of events, including family friendly activities.
Address: Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH
Opening times: Mon to Thu 10am – 5pm, Fri 10.30am – 5pm, Sat to Sun 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag
5. BOM – Birmingham Open Media
At BOM for @hellocatfood’s launch of his first solo exhibition; Permission Taken. Exploring ideas of ownership, copyright, and free culture, Antonio Robert’s artworks provide interesting discussions around intellectual property in today’s digital world, as online communities become more prolific and harder to police.
Visit art exhibitions and get involved in arty events.
BOM is one of Birmingham’s art initiatives. It tests pioneering ideas that investigate the transformative value of the arts across education, health and society. Inside their space, you will find workshops, talks, exhibitions and networking events. You can even learn how to code for computer programmes! Check the event calendar and join in! Most of their events are free of charge.
Address: 1 Dudley Street, Birmingham B5 4EG
Opening times: Wed to Sat 12pm – 5pm, closed Sun to Tue and during installation of exhibitions
More information: http://www.bom.org.uk/
6. Bullring Shopping Center
Visit the iconic building right in the heart of the city and browse over 160 designer, high-street and department stores.
A visit to Birmingham would not be complete without a picture in front of the Bullring statue or a visit to the iconic building that has become the portrait of the city. Although rebuilt in 2003, retail at the Bullring area dates back to middle age. This part of the city has always been known as a trade and retail quarter from when the first markets were held here. The Bullring also holds several events throughout the year, so its always worth checking their social media feeds for the latest promotions and event information.
Address: Birmingham B5 4BU
Opening times: Mon to Fri 10am – 8pm, Sat 9am – 8pm, Sun 11am – 5pm
More information: https://www.bullring.co.uk/
7. Custard Factory
Go shopping off the beaten track – the alternative and creative way.
While Birmingham has a wealth of shopping centres and they are all free, if you prefer more niche things, you really need to head over to the Custard Factory. Home to creative offices and arty shops, here you will find anything from art galleries and vintage shops to skater gear, craft beer tastings and a place where you can fix your Apple gadgets. There is a space dedicated to international graffiti! The ideal hub for any free-spirited creative soul.
Address: Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4AA
Opening times: Tue to Sat 10am – 6pm for the shops.
More information: http://www.custardfactory.co.uk/
8. Eastside Projects
Admire art, take part in arty events or visit the art fairs.
The Eastside Projects is an artist-run art centre. Explore the exhibitions, get involved in workshops, talks and seminars or shop in their art fairs. They even have a book club and a summer camp! Check the event calendar to see what is on and get involved.
Address: 86 Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham B9 4AR
Opening times: Wed to Sat 12pm – 5pm, closed during installation of exhibitions
More information: https://eastsideprojects.org/
9. Ikon Gallery
Visit exhibitions as well as take part on talks, tours, workshops and seminars.
Featuring artist from around the world and using a variety of mediums such as sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and art installations, Ikon Gallery aims to educate and expose the general public to contemporary art as well as stimulate public interest and understanding of this type of art. They even have parent and toddler mornings! A must for any art lover or student.
Address: Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS
Opening times: Tue to Sun 11am – 5pm, closed Mondays and Bank Holidays
More information: https://ikon-gallery.org/
10. Lapworth Museum of Geology
Explore an array of fossils and minerals and discover what the Midlands region was like millions of years ago.
Reopened in June 2016 after a major refurbishment, the Lapworth Museum of Geology takes its name from the award-winning Birmingham geologist Charles Lapworth. It’s located within the University of Birmingham and children in particular might recognise some of curriculum they study at school. A very informative and interesting day out full of weird and wonderful discoveries. You might even be able to join an event at the museum if you check their What’s On Guide.
Address: Lapworth Museum of Geology, Aston Webb Building, University of Birmingham, 142 Edgbaston Park Rd, Birmingham B15 2TT
Opening times: Mon to Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat to Sun 12noon – 5pm
More information: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/lapworth-museum/index.aspx
11. Library of Birmingham
Admire the building’s amazing architecture and visit exhibitions as well as take part in readings, workshops, performances and family friendly events.
Opened in 2013 and described as “the people’s place”, the Library building itself is worth the visit as it showcases Birmingham’s love of modern and arty architecture. You can also check the What’s On Guide and take part in an event while you visit the building and its galleries. Highly recommended for families and architecture lovers.
Address: Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2ND
Opening times: Mon to Tue 11am – 7pm, Wed to Sat 11am – 5pm, closed Sundays and Bank Holidays.
More information: http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/
12. Martineau Gardens
Explore the seasons and spot wildlife at the Martineau Gardens, a therapeutic community garden and organically managed landscape.
Vegetable patches, beehives, ponds, bird hides, wildflower meadows, children’s play area, bats, badgers and more! As far as our free things to do in Birmingham list goes, this is the activity we would pick for any gardening enthusiast. It is also brilliant for children, especially during spring and summer. The garden is open all year round and entry is free apart from when they host a special event.
Address: 27 Priory Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 7UG
Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am – 4pm. Closed on public holidays.
More information: Visitor’s leaflet and Martineau Gardens website.
13. Parks & Lakes
Take a stroll around one of Birmingham’s many parks and lakes.
Birmingham Council supervises nearly 600 parks and public spaces as well as 200 play areas in the city and surrounding regions. If this wasn’t enough, Birmingham enjoys a wealth of lakes, wildlife conservation parks and public sport and leisure facilities.
Visit the Council’s website and you will be able to choose a park that is not only near you but also right for the activity you intend to undertake, for instance, having a playground for the kids, facilities for a particular sport or even a model aeroplane flying field!
Address: Depends of what park you are visiting.
Opening times: Depends of what green space you are visiting.
Choose a green space to visit here.
14. RBSA Gallery – The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
Explore different types of art through exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations.
The RBSA is an artist-led charity aiming to support local artists and promote engagement with the visual arts. Although charges might apply to particular activities, to visit the gallery and take part in some of the events is free. Check the calendar and get creative!
Address: 4 Brook Street, Birmingham B3 1SA
Opening times: Mon to Fri 10:30am – 5:30pm, Sat 10:30am – 5pm, Sun 1 – 5pm
More information: Current exhibitions
15. Soho House Gardens
Visit the grounds, café and gardens of the beautiful Georgian home owned by Birmingham industrialist Matthew Boulton.
Boulton is one of the most important historic figures associated with the city of Birmingham. During his lifetime he was internationally famous for his engineering achievements. Soho House became his residence in 1766 when he moved to the Soho area of the city to be closer to his steam engine manufacturing business.
While there is a charge to visit the house itself, visiting the gardens and café is free. Once the Soho gardens expanded over hundreds of acres, today only a very small amount of it still exists and a reconstruction project has taken place to bring the 18th century gardens back to some of its formal glory, based on what record of the planting was found in the Boulton archive.
Address: 4 Brook Street, Birmingham B3 1SA
Opening times: Wed to Thu 11am – 4pm and first Sunday of the month (except January) 11am – 4pm, but its highly recommended you check the calendar for closed days as the Hall also hosts private events and is closed to the public on these occasions.
More information: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/soho
16. Symphony Hall
Listen to concerts and visit photography exhibitions.
Internationally famous, the Birmingham Symphony Hall is quite a spectacle itself – modern on the outside and breathtakingly beautiful inside. While it mainly offers ticketed paid-for events, there are also free performances and exhibitions on offer. Check the What’s on Guide below to see all the events available free of charge.
Address: Broad Street, Birmingham B1 32EA
Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am – 6pm, closed evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays on non-event dates.
More information: https://www.thsh.co.uk/whats-on/category/free
17. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Visit exhibitions, go on guided tours and take part in music concerts all free of charge.
Housed in a celebrated architectural masterpiece and home to arts and music, The Barber Institute is definitely worth a visit. While they do host paid events, admissions to the gallery and all exhibitions are free. There are also free music concerns available. Definitely one for classical music and art lovers. Check the What’s On Guide for guided tour and concert dates.
Address: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TS
Opening times: Mon to Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat to Sun 11am – 5pm
More information: http://barber.org.uk/visit/
18. The Jewellery Quarter
If you like a little bling or are a fan of British history, The Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham is not to be missed.
Still responsible for 40% of all jewellery produced in the UK and home to Europe’s largest concentration of jewellery businesses, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter didn’t set out to be an attraction, but it became one.
Visit the website below and pick a themed tour. Each trail will tell you a particular part of the Quarter’s history. You can do the whole trail digitally, reading the story of each location as you go, then try to find them when you visit the Quarter in person. Or you can use it to establish if there are any landmarks or locations that you would like to visit.
In Vyse Street you will also find The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, a perfectly preserved jewellery factory workshop dating back to 1901. While the main and permanent exhibition is not free, visiting the Museum’s shop and temporary exhibitions is. Please check if a temporary exhibition is on before visiting.
19. The MAC
Visit craft markets, browse art exhibitions and take part in events at The Mac.
Birmingham’s vibrant art centre, The MAC is home to music, art, theatre, dance and literature events for adults and children. While some of its performances are not free, there is an array of events that are. It’s definitely worth checking their calendar of events to see if anything takes your fancy. Meanwhile, there are food markets on the last Sunday and craft markets on the first Sunday of every month. There is also a gallery on the first floor which holds free exhibitions.
Address: Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
Opening times: 9am – 9.45pm
More information: https://macbirmingham.co.uk/
20. Thinktank Science Garden
Set big and little kids loose on over 30 hands-on exhibits exploring engineering, mechanics and transportation at the Thinktank Science Garden.
Part of Eastside City Park and located in front of the Thinktank Science Museum, the gardens are an outdoor discovery area packed with fun activates for the whole family. Harness renewable energy, go up the tower using a pulley and more! While entrance to the science museum itself isn’t free, the garden is open to the public free of charge from 3pm onwards.
Address: Millennium Point, Curzon St, Birmingham B4 7XG
Opening times: Free from 3pm – closure depends on sunlight, please check website for details especially during winter.
More information: Science Garden information
21. Tolkien Trail – The Hobbit
Visit the places that inspired author JRR Tolkien to write the phenomenon that became The Hobbit.
Did you know Tolkien grew up in Birmingham and inspired parts of his book on places and people around the city? Pick up a copy of the Tolkien Trail leaflet from the Tourist Information Centre or download it from the link below and visit places where the author once lived, played and studied, as well as places he inspired parts of his fantasy books on. Some of the locations can only be visited at particular times of the year, but most are open all year around.
Address: Birmingham TIC (Tourist Information Centre), Birmingham Central Library, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3HQ
Opening times: TIC – Mon to Sat 10am – 6pm. For locations opening times, please check the leaflet and the particular location.
More information: Tolkien Trail leaflet