If you are a sports enthusiast and are spending this week cheering your country’s squad at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, here’s where we recommend you visit. By Riaan Jacob George
We were in Birmingham at the Commonwealth Games and found some interesting places to watch the sports. We soaked up the energy at the different event venues and even walked around the city enjoying the different fan zones. Read on for our recommendations.
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Discovering Birmingham on foot between the games is just what the doctor ordered. This city, with its history as a manufacturing hub, has a host of beautifully gentrified neighbourhoods, and a curious mix of ultra-modern and gritty, with just the right dose of artsy. If you walk under the many subways of downtown Birmingham, or even along the canals (yes, the city does have a lot of them), street art abounds. Stop by at one of the neighbourhood pubs for a beer and watch the locals go about their day. Our favourite part about this city? It is so culturally diverse that the international food options are endless. For those of us who have not seen UK beyond London, this is a great start to discover another British city with a resolutely different personality and identity.
Must-visits in Birmingham during Commonwealth Games 2022
Victoria Square is one of the city’s iconic spots and features a lovely mix of heritage buildings with new constructions. All through the Commonwealth Games week, there is a huge stage set up on the square where you can watch the games projected on a huge screen. What’s more—the city authorities have lined up a whole bunch of music concerts, especially those featuring local musicians. We recommend picking up some snacks and drinks and spending a sunny afternoon on the square.
Explore as many different venues of the Commonwealth Games as possible. This is a great way to see more of the region as you go along. Interesting to note that different games are being played in and around Birmingham in a host of existing and newly constructed spaces. We went to the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull, outside Birmingham, to watch the Indian team win the gold medal at table tennis. Here you can also watch tennis, badminton and weightlifting. The opening and closing ceremonies will take place at the spectacular Alexander Stadium in Perry Park in Birmingham. We also recommend Smithfield, a huge open-air space in downtown Birmingham where the beach volleyball and basketball tournaments will be held.
The Birmingham Bullring is an interestingly-named city centre neighbourhood boasting shops, cafes, bars and public promenades. The Bullring is the most photographed part of Birmingham, juxtaposing the ancient architecture of St. Martin’s Cathedral with the ultra-modern (and very Instagrammable!) Selfridges building. Giant screens have been set up at the Bullring and lounge chairs where you can watch the games live. The bars in the neighbourhood have been unofficially transformed into fan zones for the Commonwealth Games, with multiple country flags, happy hour for games enthusiasts and live sports. The area around the Bullring is where all the major retail outlets can be found and come sundown, it comes alive with a host of Asian eateries and beer-on-tap pubs. We loved the vibe!
The Longines House
The Longines House is a by-invite-only space located at The Compound on Water Street. The Compound is an artsy warehouse-style space, and creative studio in downtown Birmingham, with a Banksy collection (we hear). Here, the iconic Swiss watchmaker and official timekeeper of the Games has set up a gorgeous retrospective exhibition of some classic timepieces that were used in the decades gone by. Here, we spotted some marvellous pieces like a stainless steel sport chronograph counter and a pocket chronograph. There is also a 1954 cinematographic timekeeping device, which simultaneously shot video and recorded time at the finish line, powered by a quartz clock. For the lucky few who can bag access to this exhibition and space, we definitely recommend it!
Related: Longines Launches Limited Edition Watch To Commemorate Commonwealth Games 2022