We’re welcoming many new and returning students back to campus this month. As you start to integrate to life here or start getting back into the swing of things, you might be wandering what you should be doing in your downtime.

As much as we love summer in the UK, autumn is a special time here. As the leaves start to turn and the days start to shorten, we begin to get excited about Bonfire night and Halloween, woolly jumpers and mulled wine, and, ultimately, Christmas. Although most countries celebrate the 31st of October by dressing up in scary costumes and eating copious amounts of sweets, there are some customs that are uniquely British and are not to be missed.

To help you navigate the new season, we have put together a guide to some of Birmingham’s best events to help you truly embrace England this autumn and winter.

October

Burger Fest
6 October, The Bond Company

The annual Autumn Market will be slightly different this year – which is excellent news if you are a fan of burgers. This event will bring together some of Birmingham’s best burgers from city favourites such as Original Patty Men, Low ‘N’ Slow, Buddha Belly, Wallace and Sons and many more. There will also be drinks provided by Dig Brew Co and The Cocktail Caravan, as well as live music and DJs throughout the day.

War Horse
10 October – 3 November, Birmingham Hippodrome

This moving, critically-acclaimed play began its life at the National Theatre in London before spending a record-breaking eight years on the West End – and it is now returning to Birmingham. It is set at the beginning of World War One and tells the story of a horse who goes on an incredible journey and a young boy’s mission to bring him home. It features remarkable life-size puppets that bring the story to life, as well as beautiful music and songs to accompany the action. You might want to bring some tissues to this one – find tickets here.

Festival of the Dead
27 October, O2 Academy Birmingham

This event combines the classic scares of Halloween with the creativity of a carnival. During the festival, a 15ft tall vulture will roam the crowds while giant skulls dance around and are followed by carnival processions. Expect acrobats and circus performers, DJs and live music, piñatas, professional skull face painting, confetti, and a fantastic light show. The event starts at 10pm and is open to those aged 18 years or over.

November

Bonfire Night
5 November, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

All Brits know the rhyme: “Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot.” This refers to a plot in the 1600s by a man called Guy Fawkes, who was part of the Gunpowder Plot that intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Luckily, the plot was stopped in time and now we celebrate every year with a bonfire and fireworks. This year, the Botanical Gardens will hold a fireworks display set to music.

The Nutcracker
23 November – 13 December, Birmingham Hippodrome

Sir Peter Wright’s production of winter favourite ‘The Nutcracker’ is famous all over the world for its stunning sets, excellent arrangements, and magical costumes – and this November you can see it in Birmingham. The story of Clara’s journey into a winter wonderland, meeting the Sugar Plum Fairy and watching her handsome prince and his toy soldier army battle the Rat King is the perfect thing to get you really excited for Christmas.

December

German Christmas Market
15 November – 23 December, Victoria Square

Every year, Birmingham hosts a famous German Christmas Market that attracts 5.5million visitors, making it the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK, and the biggest German market outside Germany and Austria. You can expect stalls of every variety serving up typical German food like Bratwurst and Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and selling decorations, cards, and many other items that will make perfect Christmas gifts.

Peter Pan
19 December – 27 January, Birmingham Hippodrome

Pantomime, often referred to as ‘Panto’, is a uniquely British form of theatre that is put on every year around Christmas. It is usually based around a classic fairy tale and always features contemporary music, a villain, a hero, and a narrator – all of whom speak to the audience and expect the audience to speak back. Although designed for children, there is always humour for the adults and it is worth seeing at least one panto while studying in England, just to experience the absurdity of one of England’s more eccentric Christmas traditions. This year, Peter Pan is in Birmingham.

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