Creatives have always taken inspiration from great gardens and, here in Birmingham, the green spaces of Edgbaston’s Botanical Gardens have sparked imaginations for almost 200 years. In 2024, the Grade II-listed site hopes to attract a whole new generation of culture lovers, as it launches an exciting new programme of exhibitions, events, workshops, talks and tours.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens events
A print of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 1834, Birmingham Museums Trust

Opening on May 10th is International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY), which is one of the world’s most respected photography competitions and exhibitions, particularly within the genres of garden, plant, flower and botanical photography.

Installed on the West Lawn with a beautiful scenic backdrop, it will show garden-themed artworks in nature’s own outside gallery. For those inspired by the images, the Gardens are offering day-long Photography for Beginners courses, during which participants will put into practice what they have learnt in the beautiful gardens.

Meanwhile, for music enthusiasts, the gardens will be hosting twice monthly gigs as part of their Live on the Bandstand programme. On Sunday, May 12th Honeyboy Hickling Blues Band and The Melvin Hancox Band will kick off the series with a day of soulful tunes and Rock & Roll, while local guest food vendors ‘Smoke and Ash’ will be serving delicious Neapolitan style pizza.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens events
See Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens in a new light, with theatre, music and cinema screenings

For theatre lovers, there will be outdoor performances of an Oscar Wilde classic, Shakespearean comedy and a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. Audiences will also be able to enjoy cinema nights at the gardens, thanks to partnerships with Birmingham’s own Mockingbird Cinema and the much-loved Flatpack Festival. First up, and ‘painting the grounds pink’, is a screening of Barbie on 8th June, which will be accompanied by cocktails, mocktails, delicious street food and a live DJ set before the film starts on the lawn.

Behind these exciting new collaborations is Head of Commercial and Visitor Services Chris Maher, who says:

“Our programme needs to reflect the city more and this is a time of renewal as we invite audiences to experience the gardens in a completely different way, while highlighting and working with quality local organisations”.

Echoing this sentiment is Jen Ridding, Head of Engagement and Learning, who explains:

“We want to open up the gardens to as many people as possible, developing exciting new programmes for the diverse communities of Birmingham”.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens events

For younger audiences, the Gardens Art Club offers drop-in craft sessions during school holidays in an indoor gallery. Family groups can get creative, making mini-masterpieces based on plants, cacti and colourful flowers.

Meanwhile, Conservation Ranger, Sila, will offer monthly Family Explorers events from bug hunts and pond dipping to den building and slow walking, giving children the opportunity to connect with nature.

Well-being is at the heart of the new programme, and I AM YOGI’s summer Gardens Yoga series will invite people to stretch out in the company of nature, with a special Dawn Chorus session attracting early risers with start time of 5am on Sunday 5th May.

All of this brand new programming belongs to the ‘Growing our Green Heritage’ scheme, which has been made possible thanks to almost £600,000 development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop the first phase of the project, within the context ofa further £4.4m available as the programme progresses.

CEO Sara Blair-Manning says:

“Thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are currently in the developmental stages to safeguard the future of this special space. The substance of the Major Project is to restore the heritage assets, rationalise visitor operations, improve planting and interpretation to create a financially sustainable first-class visitor destination, community resource, centre for horticultural excellence and high-quality green space.”

With an emphasis on caring for and developing the green space, visitors will currently be able to simply unwind with a walk though the Japanese Garden and Butterfly House, or wonder at the National Bonsai Collection and blooming Rhododendrons, spending beneficial time in nature.

Meanwhile, for horticultural enthusiasts and experts, there are upcoming Bonsai, Daffodil, Cyclamen and Cactus Shows, proving that flora and fauna will remain at the heart of this attraction, which is one of just two independent botanical gardens in the UK.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens events
There’s still place to simply unwind in the Gardens

While preserving the heritage on site, this season of change will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and enjoy them in brand new ways. As Jen Ridding says, “This is a once in a lifetime project for the gardens, allowing us to reactivate them and ensure audiences make the most of their many benefits”.  

Turning a new leaf in the garden’s history, ‘Growing our Green Heritage’ will transform the historic site into a more contemporary cultural destination for people from Birmingham, celebrating the heritage of this wonderful space of greenery and creativity in our city.

To find out more about what’s on at Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and book tickets, please visit

Tickets start from just £5.50 and membership start from £30 per annum, which allows the card holder and a guest unlimited entry into the Gardens throughout the year, inclusive of Live on the Bandstand performances, and discounts on other events, as well as in the gift and plant shop.

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