Birmingham’s bar landscape is changing.

As the brand new multi-million pound New Street Station approaches completion, the Paradise Circus re-development pedestrianises what used to be a major road route and plans are afoot to replace the old wholesale markets with Smithfields, the Family quarter, what does this mean for the current bar hubs?

Existing Bar Hubs

The Birmingham City Centre bars are currently spread across a few main areas.

Broad Street was always the traditional home of the culture of excess with multiple late night Broad-Street-Birminghamvenues including Gatecrasher, Walkabout, Brannigans, and Revolution to name just a few, though now has multiple closed and vacant units which gives the area a slightly run-down feel.

The more upmarket Brindly Place just off Broad Street included higher end bars such as Bank and Nuvo, and a short walk along the canal is the Mailbox premium retail and bars area next to the iconic Cube building.

The Arcadian Centre in the Chinese Quarter offers a variety of independent and branded pubs, bars and nightclubs, though without a strong brand to attract the masses to the area. The Gay Quarter is just around the corner and is thriving.

The Summer Row bars such as Apres, Mechu and The Shakespeare are currently suffering the effects of extensive roadworks and re-development making access difficult for potential customers, and the area may see some casualties before the works are complete.

The Jewellery Quarter also has a variety of bars and restaurants with a premium feel and a great atmosphere, but has difficulty getting the footfall of the true city centre bars.

John Bright Street

John Bright Street has a great location, right between the Arcadian, Chinese Quarter & Gay Quarter on the one side and Broad Street via Paradise Circus (soon to be rebranded as simply Paradise) on the other. Oh, and the huge entrance to the brand new New Street Station and Grand Central Birmingham right next to it on one side, and the premium Mailbox on the other.

Turtle-Bay-John-Bright-StreetQuite simply, John Bright Street is at the centre of everything.

At one end sits The Victoria Pub, one of the popular Bitters & Twisted group offering a relaxed environment with art on the walls, having quickly become a very cool hang out.

Moving up the street there are a few empty units that I’m stunned haven’t been snapped up yet (if you’re looking for a Birmingham bar location, get in quick!) Then you’ll find Turtle Bay, a restaurant with a good offering of Tiki style drinks and a fantastic look.

Then you’ll find BrewDog’s craft beer bar – BrewDog are doing a fantastic job of popularising the craft beer scene, and I’m a big fan of their Punk IPA. The bar is always packed and has a great vibe.

Opposite is Cherry Red’s Cafe Bar, with a cool and fashionable shabby chic look and again, always BrewDog-John-Bright-Streetbusy.

The Railway is recently refurbished and offering the usual pub fare perfect for travellers just looking to grab something quick and easy. While it’s listed as a Hill Street bar, its second entrance and terrace is onto John Bright Street.

The Island Bar, another Bitters & Twisted venue and probably the most prominent Flair bar in Birmingham is located just a minute away from the street too, next to the New Alexandria Theatre’s entrance.

The Future of John Bright Street

I hope that John Bright Street becomes’ Birmingham’s answer to Bourbon Street in New Orleans – a permanent street party with a great vibe. It’s really helped by the fact it’s already pedestrianised, and once the New Street Station’s Grand Central Birmingham opens in September, the influx of people into the area could be incredible. I just hope those bars are ready when they come!


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