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Birmingham Festival 23 is a free 10-day outdoor festival taking over Centenary Square with live music and performance, creative and participatory activities, and big-screen content to conjure the shared experiences, magic and memories of the summer of ‘22. Birmingham Festival 23 will welcome audiences, artists, local communities and volunteers, who reflect the diversity of our city, coming together to watch, listen, relax, dance and play. There will be something for everyone, with accessible activities, local talent, dance, family-friendly entertainment, the chance to meet B2022’s iconic Perry, and the best of Birmingham’s food and drink offer.

Commissioned by Birmingham City Council as a sign of its ongoing commitment to accessible culture for everyone, supported by Principal Partners Arts Council England and the University of Birmingham.

The Festival will kick off with 'One City, A Thousand Memories'. Soulful house DJ Echo Juliet and BBC Asian Network’s Bobby Friction will build excitement on the square with live VJs from 6pm ahead of the show which will start at 7pm. Audiences will be advised to turn up early to grab a good spot and soak up the atmosphere.

The event will be hosted by award-winning BBC presenter Ayo Akinwolere and DJ and Radio 1Xtra presenter Kaylee Golding, who will bring their energy and enthusiasm, guiding everyone through a packed evening which is set to finish at around 10pm.

The Festival site on Centenary Square will feature a big screen where audiences can expect to see newly-commissioned short films, B2022 highlights and messages from a few familiar faces which will be kept a surprise until the night.

B2022 Mascot, Perry, will make a special appearance with his favourite Bhangra group the Dhol Blasters, to fire up the audience and get people moving. As a standing event, people should come prepared to move around but there will also be an accessible viewing platform for those who need it. Accessibility is really important to the Festival, and the event will be BSL interpreted and audio described.

A collaboration with Team England, the English Commonwealth Games team, will ensure a host of medal-winning athletes from Birmingham 2022 feature on the evening. Athletes will parade before an emotional performance from Birmingham Conservatoire-trained Mezzo-Soprano, Samantha Oxborough (who performed the national anthem at the 2022 Opening Ceremony and is part of the B:Music Front of House Team) with The Choir with No Name (who were part of Birmingham 2022 Festival’s opening event ‘Wondrous Stories’). They’ll be supported by community BSL choir Music in Motion - who came through the Festival’s Made in Brum open call - for a moving musical tribute that organisers think everyone will want to join in with.

The final part of the evening will take place on the fountain area of Centenary Square in front of the Festival’s iconic stage which will literally light up Birmingham! Ayo and Kaylee will introduce speeches and interview guests before welcoming a live music finale courtesy of Birmingham Music Archive.

Drawing from Birmingham Music Archive’s On Record album - the specially-commissioned ‘Sonic Love Letter’ to Birmingham for the B2022 Festival last year - the final part of the evening will feature an eclectic mix of Birmingham’s musical talent, some of whom became household names as a result. Singer, dancer and multi-instrumentalist Bambi Bains will kick off, followed by Urban Music Award winner SANITY, before headliner, Friendly Fire Band, take to the stage for a finale that everyone will know the words to and go home singing!

Need to Know:

  • Free, every day
  • 10 days, 11am to 9pm
  • Friday 28 July to Sunday 6 August
  • Centenary Square
  • Live music, performance, activities
  • No ticket required
  • Family-friendly and accessible
  • Food & drink in partnership with Birmingham Restaurant Festival, or bring a packed lunch
  • Free drinking water provided, bring a refillable bottle

And don't forget that B:Music will be closing the festival: Building on the success of 2022’s Beyond the Bricks of Brum performance, B:Music are excited to present Next Track.

Next Track sees Casey Bailey working alongside Musical Director, Ashley Allen, and a range of Birmingham and West Midlands music, poetry and spoken word artists as they bring Birmingham Festival 2023 to a close. Celebrating the city as it is now, where it came from and where it might be in future, this performance will take audiences on a journey, touching on themes such as acceptance, arrival and appreciation.

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