About Celebrating Sanctuary: Refugee Week Takeover

Celebrating Sanctuary's (CSB) Birmingham Refugee Week Festival happens each year in June, celebrating the contribution and resilience of refugees in the UK, and sharing their stories, campaigns and culture.

This year they’re celebrating 20 years of Birmingham Refugee Week and are inviting everyone to join the fun.

To kick off the week which is packed with live music, art and workshops that will inspire you with culture from all corners of the world, CSB are taking over our iconic and much loved Symphony Hall - here’s what we have in store for you…

Journey to Safety photography exhibition, 10-5pm

In partnership with the Aston University Centre for Migration & Displacement.

Exploring spaces and places of reception and support along the ‘Balkan Route’, this exhibition challenges the myth of the simple journey, instead highlighting the dangers and struggles faced by displaced people as they seek safety in Europe.

Using photographs, videos and maps from border regions in Greece, Serbia and Bosnia, it highlights the dangerous conditions people face as they enter an ever more securitised ‘fortress Europe’ seeking safety and asylum. It also brings to the fore the acts of solidarity and support provided by volunteers, activists and solidarians who challenge these policies, offering an alternative built on the belief that asylum is a right and all refugees are welcome.

Steve Tchoumba (Cameroon) is also hosting a drumming display and workshop 2 – 2.45pm; plus crafts, information stalls and arts and cultural activities throughout the day.


Live Music from around the world, 3-6pm
A musical extravaganza featuring top acts from around the world, presenting a line up of local, national and international artists representing music and cultures from different parts of the globe. Get ready for…

  • Traditional Gnawa (sacred trance) from Simo Lagwawi and Gnawa Blues Allstars (Morocco)
  • Roma (Gypsy) songs from Julia Kozakova (Slovakia)
  • Traditional Sudanese sounds from Hassan Salih Nour (Sudan)
  • Eastern European music from Karolina Wegrzyn (Poland)
  • Soulful Sudanese rhythms from Ebo Krdum


About the Artists

Simo Lagnawi & The Gnawa Blues All Stars

(Photo by Hassan Hajjaj)

Simo Lagnawi is the Ambassador of Gnawa Culture in the Uk & charismatic leader of Gnawa Blues All Stars.

Playing traditional Gnawa (sacred trance music from Morocco) and new age Gnawa with his bands Electric Jalaba, Gnawa Griot, and Gnawa Blues All Stars, Simo continuously pushes new boundaries fusing Gnawa with music from around the world.

Simo has been featured on BBC World service ,CNN World, BBC 3, Vox Africa and other overseas stations and magazines around the world.

He has performed at a host of festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude and Boom Town.

An exceptional and engaging performer.

Julia Kozakova: Julia Kozakova is a charismatic, young, already acclaimed singer dedicated to old traditional Roma (Gypsy) songs and their stories from Slovakia and Central Europe.

From age 13 she Julia has collaborated with well-known singer, Ida Kelarova and toured Europe with her Roma choir Chavorenge, developing an authentic voice within Roma tradition.

She has gone on to collaborate with established world music and jazz musicians from Slovakia, being a lead vocalist of many projects (jazz-world fusion SOLE, jazz-groove Velvet Case, international flamenco fusion PALO SANTO and more).

Currently she is finishing her Music studies at SOAS in London.

Manuša Project: Manuša is the first solo album of Julia that tracks the old traditional Roma songs, a crucial part of the life of Roma people and their cultural identity.

Julia’s music style is described as immersive and empathic and her performance as genuine and authentic.

THE BAND is composed of the best contemporary Roma musicians from Slovakia - Viliam Didiáš (violin), Ľubomír Gašpar (cimbalom), Vojtech Vojtech Botoš (viola), Ján Rigo (double bass), and Zsolt Varady (guitar).

Karolina Wegrzyn: Karolina is a singer, accordionist and hammered dulcimer player from Poland.

Sub-Carpathia, her native region, is rich in traditional customs and cultures as it borders Ukraine and Slovakia, but also reflects the Jewish, Roma and Rusyn communities that used to live there. Karolina was immersed in these traditions from a young age, performing with her grandmother's folk dance group.

Since moving to the UK Karolina is involved in many projects with musicians from different backgrounds, such as, Kamil Bogus from EIF, who combines traditional songs with ambient electronic music; also Stacja Fanfara - a concept of gathering musicians from different cultures to play their loved Eastern-European songs.

Karolina is also a visual artist and a song collector, meeting with elderly citizens to record old forgotten songs and stories.

Hassan Salih Nour: Hassan Salih is a singer and Ood Player from Sudan, born in Gabet in Eastern Sudan, to parents from the North.

From the age of three he began to play the tambour, the traditional instrument of northern Sudan, and to sing local songs. Growing up, he learned to play ood, bass and mandolin, performing traditional music, and becoming a fixture on the music scene of Port Sudan.

Salih spent time in Holland and Cairo before settling in the UK. Salih has performed solo and in a number of collaborations, including Yorkshire-based Rafiki Jazz.

He now works with Ibrahim Disko a Sudanese percussionist from Holland, and brings a soulful and captivating performance of traditional and original Sudanese music.

Ebo Krdum: Ebo is a Swedish-Sudanese activist-artist, born and raised in Sudan and moved to Sweden in 2010. He started his musical journey when he was 5 years old in western Sudan.

As a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, he learned by himself outside of music schools and institutes. Over the last four years Ebo has been vigorously present on the live music scene in Sweden and across Europe, presenting projects with various Swedish and international musicians.

His solo-debut album Diversity (released 2021) received remarkable reviews in Sweden and globally, to mention but a few Ebo Krdum is placed among the Top-Ten ‘Best of the world’ on SongLines 2022. Ebo has won many awards for his music including, World Music Gala – Newcomer of the Year in 2020, Manifest Gala – Rhythm of the Year,

Composer of the year (World & Folk music), and Swedish Grammy “Folk Music of the Year” in 2022.

Ebo Krdum performs soulful and emotional songs with traditional Sudanese rhythms and melodies. Having performed for CSB in 2018 we are delighted to welcome Ebo back to Birmingham.

Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham

2022 is the 20th Anniversary of CSB and the Refugee Week Festival in Birmingham. To mark the occasion we’ve launched a year long program called We Are Birmingham 2022, where we’ll reflect on and showcase 20 years of diversity and culture in Birmingham's Music and Arts Scene.

To find out more about We Are Birmingham 2022, please click here.

Booking Info

Free (limited) ticket for Disabled Visitor’s Carers, as per Access Scheme

Wheelchair Users and Disabled Patrons

If you require a wheelchair position (subject to availability) please call the Box Office on 0121 289 6343.

A range of tickets and services are available under our Access Scheme. To find out more, or to join the Access Scheme, email boxoffice@bmusic.co.uk or call us on 0121 289 6343.