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The best local culture picks for 2022

Culture vultures grab your diaries, we've rounded up everything you can't afford to miss in 2022. There's loads of cool stuff on locally - think theatre, gigs, festivals and exhibitions. See you there.

TURN UP THE MUSIC

Rockers listen up! There’s a wicked line up of punk/rock royalty coming to Utilita Arena this year including Royal Blood in March (tickets from £31), Blondie in May and Crowded House in June, or head over to the Symphony Hall on 5 April to see 10cc (tickets £37). If pop’s more your thing then you’re also spoilt for choice with Olly Murs and Michael Buble both playing at Warwick Castle in July.

For opera fans, the awesome Welsh National Opera is coming to the Birmingham Hippodrome in April with its performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and Janácek’s Jenufa. The Russian State Opera will perform Aida at Cov’s Belgrade Theatre alongside a 30-piece orchestra on 24 Mar. And if a bit of classical guitar is more your jam, Classical BRIT award-winner Milos Karadaglic is playing at Birmingham Town Hall on 28 May.

Also on our musical speed dial is Birmingham’s 02 Academy, because look at this line up: electronic dj Bonobo brings his brand of trip hop on 4 May (tickets £31) followed by digital folk rock powerhouse Alt J on 27 May (tickets £37) and Grammy award-winning TLC are bringing retro vibes on 14 June (yes, they’ll play Waterfalls – tickets £51).

LIFE IS ART

The largest exhibition by British photography pioneer Masterji opens at Compton Verney on 12 Feb. Work by Maganbhai Patel (1924 – 2018) covers pictures and photos taken of the South Asian community in Coventry and the West Midlands. Masterji was the city’s first Indian photographer and didn’t receive national recognition until Coventry became City of Culture last year so now’s your chance to really get to grips with his stunning work.

Warwick Art Centre’s newly revamped Mead Gallery (which has now been moved to the ground floor) will feature a free exhibition of work from contemporary artist Rana Begum (13 Jan-13 Mar) and Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum explores the reasons female artists and designers have so often been associated with flowers in Outgrowing which will run from 28 Jan-25 Apr.

A free exhibition by ‘England’s Most Eccentric Dresser’ will go on display at The Herbert in Cov from 18 Feb-26 June. Daniel Lismore’s work has been hailed as revolutionary by the likes of Vogue and Vivienne Westwood and ‘Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken’ will feature 3D sculptures modelled on the artist – who previously dressed the likes of Naomi Campbell, Nicki Minaj and Cara Delevigne, so this guy knows what he’s talking about. 

TREAD THE BOARDS

Fancy some Spanish sunshine in the middle of Feb? Hell yeah! Birmingham Royal Ballet will bring it’s take on Don Quixote to the Hippodrome from 18-26 Feb. Arriba!

The RSC’s next offering is Much Ado About Nothing which will run from 4 Feb-12 Mar. It’s set in an imagined futuristic world where two very different couples fall in love. Expect matchmaking and manipulation, dastardly plots, slapstick and some of Shakespeare’s wittiest dialogue. Tickets start from £16.

There’s a reason Mamma Mia! is still one of our fave musicals 20 years after it was first released. This tour celebrates its anniversary and includes a stop at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 3-14 May (tickets from £32). If you’re in the mood for something a bit more sobering there’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time which also has a run at the Hippodrome from 29 Mar-2 Apr.

HA HA, FUNNY

There is plenty to laugh about in the coming months, but most notably, we recommend getting tickets for Rhod Gilbert who’s latest project The Book of John comes after a seven year break from stand-up. The QI and Would I Lie To You favourite will perform at Warwick Arts Centre on 29 Jan.

Burlesque legend herself Dita Von Teese is arriving on our shores to perform the most successful burlesque show of all time The Art of The Teese. She’ll be at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre on 14 & 15 Mar with tickets starting from £30. If Ru Paul’s Drag Race is more your thing then stars from season 2 will put on a show to remember on 26 Mar. Sashay away.

BAFTA award-winning comedian Dylan Moran will also be heading to the Alexandra Theatre with his own brand of black humour on 19 Mar (tickets from £29). Everyone’s fave pub landlord Al Murray will be at the same place on 10 Jun (tickets £31) with a stop on his ‘Gig For Victory‘ tour.

Elsewhere on our patch there’s other comedians touring new material. At Warwick Arts Centre there’s Rob Brydon on 5 May and Jason Manford the following night. John Bishop will be at The Symphony Hall in Brum on 21 Jan with Sarah Millican at the same venue on 3-5 Aug.

AND THE FESTIVALS…..

Also Festival – the festival for healthy hedonists – will return this year from 8-10 July at Compton Verney. The ideas fest is designed to clear your mind, relax the body and of course there’s some awesome food, music and drinks too.

Warwickshire plays host to loads of top festivals over summer and this year is set to be no different. Pub in the Park returns to Warwick’s St Nicholas Park from 10-12 June and this year there’s McFly and Natalie Imbruglia among the first acts on the line-up.

For arty types there’s Art in The Park in Leamington on 13&14, and if you fancy a jig head to Warwick Folk Festival from 21-24 Jul at Warwick Castle for the best in local and national folk music.

This year marks the Commonwealth Games heading to Birmingham and part of the celebrations include the ‘Birmingham 2022 Festival‘ which runs from Mar til Sept in Centenary Square. Expect hundreds of local performers from dance, art, photography, theatre and digital art.

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