London may be the most densely populated city in the United Kingdom, as it is a certified metropolis. Still, if you look for the country’s most culturally diverse city, that honour goes to Birmingham. Are you wondering what cultural diversity in Birmingham looks like? We’ve got you covered.
While the UK is a popular destination for immigrants from all over the world, Birmingham, in particular, has become the unofficial immigrant capital of the country.
Situated in the Midlands, the city is well-connected to the rest of the country and enjoys a rich, vibrant culture teeming with tolerance and diversity. With an estimated population of 1,017,000, nearly 33 percent are non-white. There is a sizeable immigrant population from Asian, African, and Caribbean countries. If you are contemplating moving to the UK for work, study, or starting a new life, then Birmingham is, without a doubt, the best destination to do so.
Birmingham- A Historical Perspective
Birmingham is famous for ethnic diversity as it is a melting pot where people from different cultures, ethnicities, religions, races, and backgrounds coexist in harmony. There is a good reason why it was a popular city for immigrants and remains today.
The city experienced massive growth in size and population due to the Industrial Revolution. All kinds of industries, particularly clothing and car manufacturing, were major development engines. Since operating machines and working in factories required unskilled labour, this attracted many individuals from all over the world. While previously linked to occupational opportunities in the city, the main draw for immigrants from Asian and Afro-Caribbean countries is the ethnically diverse demographic of the city.
To get a true taste of cultural diversity in Birmingham, here are some must-see places you need to visit, whether you are moving to Birmingham or simply sightseeing:
1. Balti Triangle
Birmingham is known for its curry and spicy foods. Most of it can be attributed to the city’s population, which traces its roots to South Asia. Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis make a sizeable portion of the demographics, so there is little wonder that South Asian cuisine is an integral part of the city’s identity.
The Balti Triangle comes from the popular Kashmiri dish known as ‘Balti.’ The area is predominantly famous for the various restaurants that combine South Asian and Western cuisine. South Asian spices and cooking techniques have been altered to suit the local palate, thus creating a completely new cuisine specific to the area. You can find several famous restaurants here, like ‘Adil’s,’ ‘Lahore Village Restaurant,’ ‘Al Farsh Balti’ and many more. The Balti Triangle is a haven for foodies and attracts tourists and locals who are craving something spicy.
It should come as little surprise that Birmingham boasts its very own Chinatown. The city’s Chinese enclave is filled with businesses run by first or second-generation Chinese immigrants. The architecture of the area is reflective of its Chinese identity, as the buildings are in the traditional Chinese style. In addition to this, local businesses have collected money to erect stone pagodas. Founded by the Cantonese community hailing from Hong Kong, Chinatown has become a bustling and vibrant ethnic quarter embracing Chinese everywhere. Currently, the area has a sizeable Mandarin-speaking population.
Chinatown has much to offer, from Pan Asian cuisine to bars to the UK’s largest fish market. Birmingham Hippodrome, the UK’s most famous theatre, is also located in Chinatown. Overall, the area provides a cacophony of flavours, colours, and cultures worth a visit.
3. Edgbaston Village
To get a more ‘British’ experience, the Edgbaston Village is a great place to go. The area is home to top-rated restaurants and sporting venues and has something for arts and culture patrons. Also regarded as the retail centre of Birmingham, Edgbaston Village has something for everyone.
Birmingham’s Marriot Hotel is located in Edgbaston Village for anyone looking for a luxurious stay in the city. Winterbourne House and Gardens is a favourite among tourists and locals as it is a beautiful, sprawling villa that is a testament to traditional British architecture. You can also visit the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses, and the Midlands Art Center. In addition, there are tons of places where you can shop at.
4. The Jewellery Quarter
Aside from its car manufacturing industry, the city is also known for its jewellery making. Artisans have traditionally been made this section of Birmingham their home. Around 40 percent of all the jewellery made in the UK is made right here. The area is heaven for those who appreciate opulent pieces that are true works of art.
If you think jewellery is the only thing the area offers, you are quite mistaken. You can enjoy different cuisines. Cucina Rustica offers Italian cuisine. For Indian cuisine, you can go to Itihaas, and you can even get Middle Eastern food at the Damascena Jewellery Quarter. There are plenty of local pubs in the Jewellery Quarter that you can visit to have a good time. 1,000 Trades, The Clifden, and the Jewellers Arms are great places for a drink or two.
5. Gay Village
The multi-cultural and multi-ethnic composition of the city makes it not just a welcoming place for people from various races, ethnicities, and cultures. Still, also people may be different in other ways. People in Birmingham are open-minded and accept anyone willing to become a part of the diversity it has to offer. Like the LGBTQ+ community, traditionally marginalized groups have also found a home in Birmingham’s Gay Village.
The Gay Village has plenty of gay pubs where people can come together to celebrate their uniqueness and feel accepted. The area also hosts the largest LGBTQ+ festival in the country. Taking place over the May Bank Holiday weekend, the festival attracts community members from around the world. It is a festival of colours and diversity that represents Birmingham in every way.
Making A Move to Birmingham
Birmingham presents a great opportunity for anyone looking to migrate to the UK. It is amongst the most culturally diverse cities globally, one where immigrants can feel right at home from the get-go. Different ethnic communities have banded together in different regions of the city, so immigrants from anywhere in the world can contact fellow immigrants with a similar background.
Having a community to reach out to makes the transition to a whole new place that much easier. It is not as much of a culture shock as it is common to find people who speak your language and are willing to assist you in any way they can.
Here are some other reasons why Birmingham may be the perfect place to move to:
Much like its culturally diverse demographics, the work culture of Birmingham is a diverse one. While the city does have the hustle and bustle, there is a lot of emphasis on creativity and valuing quality over quantity. It houses international corporations where employees work a regular 9 to 5 shift.
At the same time, Birmingham is popular, being home to such greats as Sir William Shakespeare, J.R.R Tolkien, Charles Dickens, George Elliot, and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, giving the city a rich heritage to preserve. The level of competition is also mitigated by the community mindset so ingrained in the people of Birmingham, who tend to form their communities to thrive together.
Housing options are just as varied. You can find residential accommodation in every price range depending upon the neighbourhood, facilities, and the house’s area. Some great neighbourhoods for families include Bournville, Halesowen, Harborne, and Sutton Coldfield.
Aside from housing some of the best schools in the country, Birmingham is known for its university. The University of Birmingham is among the top 100 universities globally and attracts students from all over the world each year.
Birmingham has everything. Whether you are looking for cuisines from around the globe or stadiums, theatres, performance halls, museums, gardens, castles, and pubs, the city has it all. It is famous for its world-class stadiums that host international events and theatres regularly perform. The Royal Shakespeare Company puts on more plays than any other theatre company does, and the city has the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Birmingham has a place for you, whether you are a patron of the arts, an avid sports fan, a partygoer, or looking for good old family fun.
Birmingham is a welcoming oasis for all, regardless of your ethnic background, race, religious affiliation, or sexual identity. It is a city where diversity is celebrated and valued, and finding a community you can relate to easily.