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Inflight Magazine of Brussels Airlines

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Birmingham April 2011

Spring not only brings milder weather and blossoms to Birmingham but also a host of global superstars – André Rieu, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the Harlem Globetrotters will all be performing here in April. Keith Gabriel is our city guide

SUTTON COLDFIELD

Head north east from the city centre to discover this leafy suburb. It’s home to the region’s more affluent types, so should you become weary of the excellent eateries, a spot of Premier League footballer-spotting should keep you occupied.

SLEEP The approach to the New Hall Hotel and Spa (Walmley Road, tel. (0)121 378 2442, handpickedhotels.co.uk, rooms from €112/£95) is one of the finer sights in Birmingham. The tree-lined drive leads to a beautiful manor house, surrounded by a moat. The hotel embraces its 800-year history, retaining the oak panelled stylings but neatly complementing this historical touch with a dash of modernity.

EAT Oscar’s Gourmet Steakhouse (5 Manor Road, tel. (0)121 607 8244) has a laid-back ambience. Although the word steakhouse is above the door, there’s an international influence to Oscars’ menu that encourages you to look beyond the Herefordshire prime cuts.

CULTURE Birmingham is a city that can pride itself on many wonderful parks and Sutton Park (Park Road) is the biggest, with 2,400 acres of open heathland, woodlands, wetlands, marshes and seven lakes to explore.

LATER The Station (Station Street) is Sutton’s finest pub, expertly offering traditional pub staples, including a decent choice of hand pulled ales, a spacious beer garden and nooks and crannies inside that are perfect for good- natured pub philosophising. It’s situated right next to Sutton’s main train station too. The Station’s Comedy Junction nights are superb, attracting top quality comics (comedyjunction.co.uk).

TIP Contact the Sutton Park Rangers at the visitors’ centre if you’d like an expert tour of the park’s wonders.

GREAT WESTERN ARCADE

The artisan heart of Birmingham’s city centre, this Victorian-styled walkway has been rejuvenated by a string of funky, quirky and innovative traders.

EAT The 90 Day Café (Great Western Arcade, tel. (0)792 115 6933) is independent in both spirit and décor. The café’s beautifully detailed cupcakes are a big draw, but the menu is filled with unique touches, none more so than the sensational ‘Black bacon’.

SHOP The Bread Collection (Great Western Arcade) is a tiny shop crammed full of speciality breads – try the fantastic sourdough. Eve (Great Western Arcade) women’s boutique is a classy alternative to mainstream fashion, and gives the discerning shopper an introduction to less-heralded designers.

NATIONAL EXHIBTION CENTRE (NEC)

The busiest exhibition centre in Europe is just moments away from the airport and train station. The world’s biggest names in entertainment, culture and trade come to the NEC, so you will never be far from the action if you base yourself here.

SLEEP Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel (NEC, tel. (0) 121 780 4242, hilton. co.uk, rooms from €81/£69) is perfect for those seeking impressive accommodation next to the sprawling area that is the NEC. The hotel is up to the high standard you would expect from the Hilton group, and features an enormously satisfying breakfast buffet.

CULTURE The Dutch crossover classical music phenomenon André Rieu brings his Johann Strauss Orchestra to Birmingham for two dates in April (22 and 23, LG Arena).

Spring not only brings milder weather and blossoms to Birmingham but also a host of global superstars – André Rieu, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the Harlem Globetrotters will all be performing here in April. Keith Gabriel is our city guide

INFO

Birmingham International Airport is 13km southeast of the city centre.

Train The free Air-Rail Link takes you to Birmingham International train station; from there it’s a 10-minute journey to Birmingham New Street, which costs €3.65/£3.10 one-way.

Bus The 900 bus (which accepts euros) costs €2/ £1.70.

Taxi A 30-minute black cab ride to the centre costs €28/£23.

Tourist office The office is at The Rotunda (150 New Street, tel. (0)844 888 3883, www.visitbirmingham.com).