UK life Exploring the UK The Midlands
The Midlands is a fabulous mixture of the old and new, with historic towns such as Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of the great Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare) as well as dynamic, cosmopolitan cities such as Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham.
It has some of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes, breathtaking castles and cathedrals, and also hosts the country’s largest Hindu festival, Diwali.
The second-largest city in England has transformed in recent years from an industrial hub into a multicultural centre and the nightlife in Birmingham is as diverse as the city’s population. Those in search of a lively night out can head for Broad Street with its vast array of clubs and bars. Favourite student haunts include Brindley Place and The Mailbox, which have a more laidback atmosphere and some quality eating and drinking establishments.
Shoppers in Birmingham are spoilt for choice with the recent overhaul of the Mailbox shopping centre, which plays host to all the big high street names and designer labels.
Sports fans can choose to watch either of the two Premiership football teams, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, or watch Test Match Cricket at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
Nottingham is the home of the legend of Robin Hood and you can still find sites around town associated with the merry men in tights.
Brush up on your medieval history at Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest or see Edwinstowe Church where Robin Hood is said to have wed Maid Marian. But an outlawed archer is not all there is to Nottingham – the city is full of students and there are many late-licence bars with cheap drinks and entertainment to attract revellers, especially around Old Market Square.
The city was once a hub of the lace trade and the centre of the old town is still called the Lace Market – the old lace shops and factories that once populated the winding alleys of the market have now been converted into stylish antique shops, clubs and restaurants. Creativity and artistic merit flows in this city, which also lays claim to the bad-boy poet Lord Byron and the renowned designer, Paul Smith.