Birmingham Weekender encapsulates spirit of cultural programme for 2022 bid

Published: Thursday, 31st August 2017

Just 22 days ahead of Birmingham’s largest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender (from 22 – 24 September), the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bid team unveils its cultural programme for the Games.

Comprising a dazzling blend of traditional and contemporary arts from the region and the wider Commonwealth, the cultural programme will showcase Birmingham 2022’s urban, contemporary and digital vision through movement, dance, hip hop, urban sports, music, food, film and photography.

The cultural programme will be inspired by collaborations between the city’s internationally-renowned resident artists and the huge talent that exists across all of the region’s communities. They will work with a diverse range of community and international partners to create artistic works ranging from: major commissions; to hundreds of performances on the Victoria Square basketball stage; to showcases in local parks and streets. The programme will embrace all Commonwealth cultures and Birmingham will be reaching out to the 71 competing nations to incorporate cultural strands from across the Commonwealth.

“We have taken Birmingham Weekender as our cultural blueprint.” explained Gary Topp, Chief executive of Culture Central, “At Birmingham Weekender we encourage the city to dance together in Victoria Square; to experience Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Bullring and classical music in a car park and see the city’s artists and communities perform on the Culture Catwalk in the city centre.  We welcome world famous Sufi singer, Hans Raj Hans to the Town Hall on Sunday and our major community parade will feature Harminder, a moving mechanical elephant. Clash of Drums, a night time feast of sound and spectacular fireworks will bring Eastside Park alive on Saturday night.”

Co-ordinated by Culture Central, in cooperation with institutions including Birmingham Museums, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sampad South Asian Arts Organisation and DanceXchange, and working with arts and communities organisations from across the city the Birmingham 2022 programme will be centred on the city’s four principal squares, with a satellite hub at the NEC and the Urban Street Festival providing a bridge between sports and culture.

The beating heart of Birmingham

Festival Squares will provide the beating heart of Birmingham in Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Brindleyplace. These buzzing locations are surrounded by major cultural institutions such as the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Town Hall, Symphony Hall, Library of Birmingham and the world-famous REP Theatre that will all be engaged in hosting the cultural programme.

During Games time, the Squares will be the physical and spiritual heart of Birmingham, as they come alive with activities including: Sport in the Squares based around 3x3 basketball in Victoria Square; the start and finish of the Marathon and Road Cycling; the Urban Street Festival with demonstrations of skateboarding and BMX; live sites with giant screens of the sporting action with stages hosting live acts and a Culture Catwalk curated by young community leaders.

Fans, spectators and visitors will experience a carnival atmosphere with a ‘hub and spoke’ approach incorporating the main pedestrian arteries that interconnect the squares, which will help generate energy and passion across the city throughout the Games.

The leading live entertainment venue in Europe

The Festival Squares will be connected to the indoor fan zone at the NEC that will bring together ticket holders and fans at a showcase live site that mirrors and interacts with the proceedings in the city centre. A giant screen will show sporting action, enhanced by commentary from an MC and interviews with sports medallists and cultural icons on stage. High energy performances and talent showcases of dance, music and lifestyle sports will be coupled with taster sessions for fans to try alternative sports.

With Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis and Wrestling scheduled to take place at the NEC, the venue will be a hive of energy throughout the Games.

The bridge between sport and culture

The Urban Street Festival will act as the bridge between sport and culture for Birmingham 2022 and will extend the cultural programme into the 7,800 streets and 60 parks of the city, bringing together urban street-sport activity and sport without boundaries together with music and lifestyle.

Integrated into the live sites and the Festival Squares, the Urban Street Festival and the preceding ‘Big Active Community’ project will have a focus on activities that appeal to Birmingham’s young, diverse and multicultural demographic.

The soul of the Commonwealth will be reflected in content celebrating youth and diversity, in a festival of sport, music, dance and street culture. This will incorporate Commonwealth culture both present in the city through its diaspora and incorporating cultural strands from the Commonwealth nations to celebrate the Games. 

A track record of success and exceptional collaborations

Through all of this activity, Birmingham will create a confident, multidimensional and vibrant cultural programme to reflect and celebrate its cosmopolitan nature, energy and innovative mindset.  The city already has a track record of successfully delivering major cultural programmes:

  • London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – Four Squares Festival
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 – East Side Park fan zone for 12,000 fans in partnership with the Birmingham Weekender Festival
  • Champions Trophy 2017 – Giant screens shared centre stage with dance and music from the Birmingham Mela, attracting crowds of 5,000
  • Birmingham Weekender festival and International Dance Festival – built upon the extensive creative and technical experience of Birmingham’s culture team

With Coventry bidding to become UK City of Culture in 2021 and Nottingham bidding to become European City of Culture 2023, Birmingham 2022 could help the Midlands achieve the cultural recognition it now deserves.

Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre

“It’s very important for Birmingham to be bidding for the Commonwealth Games to be hosted here – we are a city of global citizens, with a world class sporting and cultural offer. It’s our chance to demonstrate what an incredibly friendly and exciting city we have become, a confident city capable of hosting major international events, with plenty to occupy tourists during their stay. Birmingham Hippodrome is proud to support the bid and look forward to working in partnership to showcase our great city to the world.”

Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire

“With home grown-stars from the likes of Moeen Ali to Laura Mvula, Birmingham nurtures the very best of sporting and musical talent. We boast the world-class Alexander Stadium, home to Birchfield Harriers, and not one, but two world-famous concert halls with an internationally renowned orchestra in the CBSO. And, with the opening of the new £57m cutting-edge Conservatoire, it is exactly the right time for the world to experience the amazing culture and sport we have to offer here. Therefore, Birmingham is the natural choice for the 2022 bid.”

Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon

“Ikon could not be more enthusiastic in its support for Birmingham’s Bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.  As the city’s flagship contemporary arts venue we are proud of both our Birmingham heritage and our ability to bring the Commonwealth to the city through our renowned international programme.  The scale and breadth of support for bringing the games to this super diverse city is inspiring and will only make us stronger in the finish!”

Clare Lewis, Executive Director of DanceXchange

“The Commonwealth Games presents a great opportunity to bring the world to Birmingham, to showcase our rich cultural offer, and to attract positive profile for the city. We would be excited to be part of the associated cultural programme, particularly as this would coincide with International Dance Festival Birmingham 2022, our award-winning biennial festival.”

Andrew Lovett, Director & Chief Executive, Black Country Living Museum

“What better place to host such a major sporting event than a region of such spectacular cultural heritage and global significance. Black Country Living Museum is backing the Bid!”

Janine Eason, Director of Engagement, Birmingham Museums Trust

“Birmingham Museums Trust is backing the bid for Birmingham to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022. Culture and Sport go hand in hand amongst Birmingham’s diverse population and this is a great opportunity to share all the great things about this city with people from all over the world. We believe the athletes from across the Commonwealth will find Birmingham an inspiring venue, and will in turn provide inspiration for the people of Birmingham.”

Stephan Meier, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

“Birmingham Contemporary Music Group is proud to support Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid. Birmingham’s cultural life is vibrant and our bid would strengthen our sports and culture offering, providing new perspectives for our city’s and region’s unique population and our international audiences.”

Piali Ray OBE, Director Sampad South Asian Arts

“As the epitome of a Commonwealth city, Birmingham is uniquely positioned to showcase a rich mix of South Asian arts, cultures and lifestyles – taking inspiration from the traditions and experiences of first generations arriving in the city, to the lively, eclectic spirit of British Asian culture today.

“The city’s enduring international ties, world-class sports facilities, buzzing arts & culture scene and welcoming people make it an incredibly convincing choice for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“Sampad is proud to support the bid, which paves the way for Birmingham’s streets to come alive with movement, music, dance, yoga, spoken word, food and fashion that celebrate the colour and vitality of the Commonwealth”.

Backing #BrumBid2022

How you can support Birmingham 2022:

  • Follow us on Twitter (@birminghamcg22)
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  • For further information visit our website (

About the Birmingham 2022 Bid

Sitting at the heart of the UK, and standing for the diversity of the Commonwealth, Birmingham is well positioned to attract people to the Games and to ensure that the benefits of hosting extend from the city and the region, to the UK, to the Commonwealth. The advancement of the UK’s global role and the Commonwealth movement is integral to our vision of Birmingham: heart of the UK, soul of the Commonwealth.

The list of sports below showcases all those we have announced publicly so far



Athletics, incl Para

Alexander Stadium

Aquatics, incl Para and Diving

New Sandwell Aquatics Centre


Genting Arena

Basketball (3x3), incl Para

Victoria Square


NEC Hall 1

Gymnastics (Artistic and Rhythmic)

Barclaycard Arena


University of Birmingham


NEC Hall 4

Lawn Bowls, incl Para

Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa


Ericsson Indoor Arena, at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Rugby 7s

Villa Park Stadium


University of Birmingham

Table Tennis, incl Para

NEC Hall 5

Weightlifting and Para Powerlifting

Symphony Hall

Wrestling (freestyle)

NEC Hall 4

Birmingham’s bid has the full support of the wider Midlands region, including: Birmingham City Council; three regional local enterprise partnerships: Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP; Black Country LEP; Coventry and Warwickshire LEP; the West Midlands Combined Authority and the newly elected Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street; the West Midlands Growth Company; and the Midlands Engine. In addition, Birmingham’s bid is supported by The Birmingham Commonwealth Association.

Further support for Birmingham’s Bid can be found at

Birmingham Weekender is Birmingham’s biggest arts festival, 22 to 24 September 2017

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