Programme announced for BIRMINGHAM WEEKENDER 25 – 27 September 2015

Birmingham Weekender, a weekend of world-leading free outdoor performance, art and entertainment, is pleased to announce details of its ambitious, family-friendly festival programme for 2015.

In what is Birmingham’s largest arts festival, Birmingham Weekender features an awe-inspiring programme of events from hundreds of world-class West Midlands and international artists and companies. Birmingham Weekender will showcase Birmingham’s extraordinary cultural offering to those living locally and the thousands of visitors expected to travel into the city from 25-27 September.

Organised by Birmingham Arts Partnership [1] and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome [2], Birmingham Weekender includes exciting new commissions, 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.

In addition to celebrating the city’s cultural offering, Birmingham Weekender also marks the opening of the newly transformed New Street Station and Grand Central and coincides with Style Birmingham Live and the Rugby World Cup. Birmingham Weekender underlines the next exciting stage in the development of the city, as arts, shopping, food and sport come together in this unique programme of events.
Birmingham Weekender highlights include:

- Birmingham Hippodrome presents Compagnie Transe Express’ Maudits Sonnants – an orchestra of baroque bell-ringers will play from a musical chandelier suspended above Centenary Square in a nocturnal performance for everyone

- New commissions from Birmingham Repertory Theatre in association with Mem Morrison Company, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Birmingham Opera Company, Corey Baker Dance, Sampad Arts with poet Amerah Saleh and Barbara Nice in association with Women & Theatre

- The world-class City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra take up residence at The Mailbox, the city’s much-loved Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Bullring in their 25th year in the city, and shoppers can listen out for music and opera in the city’s cafes and shops

- Centenary Square will welcome young people as its transformed into a Mexican day-of-the-dead block party; Victoria Square will become a music festival-within-a-festival as it stages live music besides the city’s iconic Town Hall and Council House and Oozells Square in Brindleyplace is the perfect setting for the festival’s family craft offering

- 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 taking 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 pop-up 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

- Following an unprecedented response to an open call-out for independent companies, Birmingham Weekender presents some of the country’s best physical theatre including: Motionhouse and their signature style with awe-inspiring lifts in a duet entitled Lost; Strictly Night Cycling, a new, nocturnal version of Bicycle Ballet Company’s popular choreographic work on two wheels; BodyGuards from InfuseDANCE will humorously control the festival crowds; Highly Sprung’s aerial Urban Astronaut explores the environmental issue of air pollution through aerial performance; watch out for Vamos Theatre’s interactive, twin-set, octogenarian campaigners Crimplene Crusaders; and Shop ‘Til You Drop by RoguePlay Theatre, a striking piece of circus theatre, explores the joys and perils of shopping

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 kicks off in the afternoon on Friday 25 September, with performances in and around Centenary Square. Ahead of the work’s first London performances, mac birmingham and Fierce Festival present Dan Canham’s Of Riders and Running Horses in the urban setting of a multi-story car park (also 26 September).

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 mechanical crane suspends a musical chandelier full of awe-inspiring acrobatic musicians above Centenary Square (25 & 26 September).

Birmingham Weekender presents 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. 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 on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September. 2015 is 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 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 (26 & 27 September). Town Hall Symphony Hall’s Musical Picnic in Victoria Square (26 & 27 September) 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 offers a rare insight into a unique cultural experience with Berending Kumpo, an extraordinary spirit-based live show with performers from Gambia, West Africa. 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 compliments the arts and entertainment of Birmingham Weekender. The best street food from the region will serve amazing international cuisine 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.

Style Birmingham Live will take fashion to the art with fashion shows throughout the weekend in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s stunning Gas Hall (26 & 27 September). All the action from the Rugby World Cup will be shown live on big screens in Eastside City Park.

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. Birmingham Weekender will entertain the crowds and provide a fitting showcase for our city.

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

Please note, it will be necessary to pre-book a small number of events due to limited spaces available, please check the website for more details.
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For further information on events taking place in the region this autumn, visit the Visit Birmingham website.

For further information contact:
Helen Annetts, Local PR on behalf of Birmingham Weekender on 07779 026720 or email
Simon Harper, Regional & National PR on behalf of Birmingham Weekender on 07810 863408 or email