Birmingham Weekender

22- 24 September

Birmingham’s biggest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender, will return with dance, drums, music and a mechanical elephant transforming the city-centre!

The award-winning Birmingham Weekender promises a packed weekend of free outdoor theatre, music, art installations and performance across the city-centre, from Broad Street to Digbeth, including the city’s retail heart. The festival will feature well-known local arts organisations and invited international artists, including a number of significant new commissions.



Birmingham Weekender 2017 first programme highlights

  • Moseley Folk Festival to transform Victoria Square with three days of social dancing
  • Spectacular outdoor drumming-firework show
  • City to come alive with Colours of Birmingham parade led by a two-metre tall mechanical elephant


Birmingham Weekender are pleased to announce the first confirmed commissions for 2017, which include:

• Working with the team behind Moseley Folk Festival, Victoria Square will transform into a three-day participatory dance experience, called Square Dance.

Hour by hour experience disco to folk, bhangra to Northern Soul as well as striking kathakali dancers visiting especially for Weekender from Kerala (India). Along with headline DJs, Square Dance offers a chance for anyone to get up and dance and includes mass dance lessons! Alongside some of the region’s best street food vendors, Square Dance is a central hub for the whole Weekender, a place to eat, drink and dance together in the heart of the city.

• Birmingham Hippodrome will present Clash of the Drums, created by Les Commandos Percu (France) and Deabru Beltzak (Spain) on Sat 23 September. A spectacular outdoor evening of drumming and pyrotechnics, drummers appear out of nowhere and march towards each other from street to street before coming together with a clash of drums. Light and fire fill the skies in an explosion of sound.

Rangeeli – Colours of Birmingham, a parade featuring the amazing Harminder, a magnificent Indian elephant made of metal, reclaimed bicycle parts and other recycled materials. Co–designed with the citizens of Birmingham, the Rangeeli – Colours of Birmingham parade will explore, celebrate and share the heritage of the city with a South Asian twist, marking Utsav, Birmingham’s Year of South Asian Culture. The parade will climax in a crescendo of sound from dhol and Brazilian beats as well as an explosion of spectacular dances from kathakali to kathak, Bollywood, bhangra and bharatanatyam alongside the energy of African and contemporary artists. Look out also for Patang, colourful kites inspired by the sub-continent.

• On Sun 24 September the Bull Ring Retail Markets will be transformed into an Alternative Village Fete. This one-off Sunday opening will see the market traders setting up stall alongside interactive performances, installations and quirky stalls, embracing the best bits of a traditional village fete with an alternative Brummie twist. Expect games, folk culture, craft, home cooking, tea and cake, vintage, and more.

• Birmingham Contemporary Music Group will perform a new piece of music created especially for Birmingham’s canals on narrow boats near the Sea Life Centre. Leading composers Richard Baker (UK), Ondrej Adamek (Prague) and Yannis Kyriakides (Cyprus) will collaborate to create one new piece, Serenade on the Canals.

• The Big Idea 17 a major new co-commission from International Dance Festival Birmingham and Birmingham Weekender, will be produced by DanceXchange, who are currently taking submissions from dance artists working in the Midlands. Plus ballet fans can also see pop-up performances from Birmingham Royal Ballet who will perform an extract of the Nutcracker in the Bullring shopping centre, bringing shoppers to a standstill as they are swept away into a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes and a Sugar Plum Fairy.

Graham Callister, Festival Director said:

Birmingham Weekender will bring a festival feel to the city-centre, with a dance stage in Victoria Square to the Alternative Village Fete in the Bull Ring markets on the Sunday, along with headline evening performances that promise to be extravaganzas of music and light! Not only are we working with Birmingham’s major arts organisations and independent companies but we will welcome artists from France, Spain, Cyprus and the Czech Republic. We look forward to seeing audiences young and old enjoying all that the Weekender offers.

Piali Ray, Festival Director said:

The programme highlights how much visitors to this truly international city will be able to get involved with during the Weekender. From joining our parade with the extraordinary mechanical Indian elephant Harminder to showing their best moves at our mass dance workshops along with opportunities to join in, make things and become part of the Weekender themselves. This is an open invitation from Birmingham.



Birmingham Weekender relies on an army of volunteers to welcome visitors and audiences to the city. If you’d like to register your interest, contact us at

Further programme announcements will be made in the summer.

Birmingham Weekender is brought to the city by Culture Central, the cultural development agency for Birmingham. 

Birmingham Retail BID, Colmore BID, Bullring, Mailbox, Bullring Markets and BCU have confirmed as event sponsors alongside funding support from Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England. Midland Metro are Travel Partner and What’s On are Media Partner for Birmingham Weekender 2017.



Headline DJs announced for Birmingham Weekender Square Dance



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