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New hotels, foodie openings and festivals, plus watch Coventry Moves, the first major moment for UK City of Culture 2021, unfold live! Read on for the latest news in food, culture and good times


After a busy day exploring Stratford kick off your heels – or flip flops, yay! – and sink into one of Arden House’s cosy beds. The ten-bedroom hotel is reopening on Thurs 1 July and promises a tranquil space slap-bang in the town centre. Rooms cost from £120 per night including a scrummy breakfast and parking, yes, parking!  (Have you tried to park in Stratford?) You can even take your dog along (because we all know Fido needs more time to put his paws up after the year he’s had). For dining and afternoon tea visit Arden House’s big sister, The Arden Hotel which serves up more of those chilled vibes and is also perfect for an evening cocktail on the all-weather terrace overlooking the RSC. Bliss.

Birmingham’s The Grand Hotel, a landmark, listed building on Colmore Row has opened its doors for the first time in almost 20 years after a £45 million refurbishment. Overlooking St Philip’s Cathedral, the luxe hotel originally opened in 1879, and has welcomed illustrious guests from royalty to rock stars. Fancy being one of the first to experience The Grand Hotel in all her glory? Enter the promo code LAUNCH here to enjoy 10% off best available rates, 2pm late check-out and a £10 drinks credit on direct bookings until June 2021 30. It looks stunning! Check out the photo gallery here.

Doors also opened at Coventry’s new boutique £18m Telegraph Hotel – bringing some Mad-Men-style mid-century glamour to the city! It comes after months of waiting as the hotel was forced to postpone its opening several times because of the pandemic. Check their latest overnight or two-night stay getaway offers here.

Foodie news

The RSC’s Riverside Café & Rooftop Restaurant – opening dates, Stratford

The Rocket ice cream van

The Riverside Cafe has resumed its popular takeaway service with outdoor terrace with picturesque waterside views over the Avon, open at 10am, six days a week, Tues– Sun. You can also take advantage of the ‘Rocket’ ice cream van located at the front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on selected days this summer. Both serve a selection of drinks, sandwiches, ice cream, crisps and delicious cakes plus a full range of fair-trade tea and coffee.

The Riverside Cafe

Then from Tues July 13, in line with government guidelines, the Rooftop Restaurant will be re-opening its doors with a reduced menu, available from Tues-Sun. It will operate with reduced capacity so pre-booking is essential. A picnic offer will also be available to purchase via click and collect as well as drinks for pre theatre and interval via a new online ordering service for the new Garden Theatre audiences.

Pub in the Park, St Nicholas Park, Warwick, July 2-4

There’s a limited number of day tickets remaining for Tom Kerridge’s touring foodie festival with music including Basement Jaxx, Gabrielle, Roland Gift, All Saints, Brand New Heavies and Beverley Knight. Joining The Hand & Flowers, Atul Kochhar Restaurants and The Mariners by Paul Ainsworth, new pubs added to the list include Warwickshire’s The Cross at Kenilworth, The Rose & Crown, Warwick and The Star & Garter, Leamington Spa. You can also enjoy an artisan food & drink market, pop up restaurants and the chef demo stage.

Cheese & Chutney, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat May 22 & Sun May 23

A special event for all cheese lovers with the region’s top-quality artisan cheeses and everything from chutney to charcuterie and crackers to wine and olives, alongside cooking demos and a chilli fries & chips eating competition by Caribbean restaurant Leave It To Esmie. While you’re there you can also visit many of Fargo’s fab reopened indy foodie businesses including BIB Noodle Bar, 100% vegan soul from Dirty Kitch, and hand-crafted vegan beer from Twisted Barrel Brewery and Tap House.

Selfridges Birmingham reopens its restaurants – plus new opening

Who doesn’t love popping into Selfridge’s food hall on a trip to Brum? This week saw the store reopening its bars, restaurants and cafes with newly curated summer menus. A new addition is Kouzina Greek Kitchen offering traditional Greek-Cypriot cuisine, now open for dining in on level 1. The menu ranges from traditional sweet treats from the Greek Bakery such as baklava and kadaifi, to vegan and vegetarian dishes (which make up half of the menu).

Choices range from San Carlo Gran Café with 18 flavours of luxury gelato and classic afternoon tea to Lola’s Cupcakes and Yo!’s iconic conveyor belt for freshly made Japanese street food and sushi (level 1, book here). Then upstairs on level 4 book here for stylish cocktail and champagne bar San Carlo Fumo with is authentic Italian cuisine and the best Espresso Martini’s!

Expansion of Warwickshire’s Napton Cidery

Founders of Napton Cidery Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier are expanding their award-winning Warwickshire independent after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign exceeded their targets by more than 400% – selling more than £170k worth of shares in just two months.

The couple launched a £40k campaign in January to aid their post-pandemic recovery, but have been overwhelmed by the response from investors which now brings new jobs and expansion of their products range.

Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier

The couple were first introduced to craft cider on a Cornish family holiday nine years ago. Returning home with an apple tree, they soon started experimenting in their back garden. Napton Cidery was founded several years later with the sole mission to collect unwanted apples from their village and surrounding orchards.

Today, the team, in Napton on the Hill, near Rugby, harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of craft cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region. They also produce limited-edition ciders and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.

New products including a new Apple Cider Brandy, branded glasses and its cider in cans and kegs. Its Lost Apple Cider is also now available on draught in six local pubs. The couple are also busily preparing for the full launch of their new tap room. Visit Napton Cidery at:

New bars

That Gin & Cocktail Bar, Swan Street, Warwick

Warwick has not one but two new bars! The team behind Stratford-upon-Avon’s That little Gin & Prosecco Bar are promising ‘a fun new concept bar’ taking customers on a gin journey of discovery in Swan Street. Drinkers at That Gin & Cocktail Bar can select from UK best sellers, local gins, international gins and gins with a story as well as the bar’s own infused flavoured gins. It’s the latest venture for entrepreneur Steve Bazell who has worked in local hospitality for the last 20 years and is one half of the team behind the successful Stratford bar.

From Fri, May 21 there’s also a food menu with sharing board options, afternoon teas plus a range of homemade cheesecakes to choose from – including G&T flavour. Opening times: Wed & Thurs, 4-11pm Fri & Sat 11.30am-midnight and Sun, 11am-7pm.

Also opening very soon is an attractive new independent café bar at the top of Smith Street (with leather booths!) – Revive – serving coffee, locally sourced food and drinks, where you can play ping pong and table football! Says its baby-friendly too.

Festival & culture news

Coventry Moves, live online, Sat June 5

TED Talk, artist Daniel Lismore. Image: Flickr

Coventry’s Daniel Lismore – described by Vogue as England’s most eccentric dresser – 2Tone legend Pauline Black, poet and rapper John Bernard, Paralympian Kare Adenegan, charity chief executive Sue Bent and singer-songwriter Navin Kundra will be taking part in Coventry’s City of Culture major all-day launch event Coventry Moves on Saturday June 5. There’s no need to rush out to book tickets as you can stream the day’s events on the Coventry 2021 website and via social media at home from 8am.

University of Warwick’s new 12-month Resonate Festival for City of Culture

The University of Warwick – a principal partner of Coventry City of Culture – is launching the Resonate Festival, an exciting and wide-reaching programme of events designed to spark creativity, connectivity, collaboration and conversation across the city and Warwickshire. It will include online events, exhibitions, film festivals, walking tours, debates, and much more before closing with a live celebration event on the Warwick campus in April 2022. Events include:

  • What is the future sound of Coventry?–a project bringing together academic researchers, artists, practitioners and the public to answer this question. The University will be working together with communities to create sound compositions and performances, using field recordings of the city gathered by Coventry people.
  • Working with school children to literarily stitch together Coventry’s past and future. Children in Years 5 and 6 will take inspiration from Coventry’s textiles history and learn to create embroidery designs by writing computer programs between May 2021 and February 2022, culminating in the children’s work being exhibited in an online gallery, and in a City of Culture exhibition on campus in in April 2022. 
  • Pairing artists with engineers to design the city of the future. Working with local Coventry art group, Foleshill Creates and artist Kitty Kaur, the university will be exploring how we can use recycled materials to build greener cities for our communities.
    A series of workshops will look at how innovative new materials will allow us to unlock our creativity in designing public spaces. Join the researchers and artists for a lively discussion and Q&A on May 26, 12-12:45pm. More details here
  • Invention and mindfulness. Mindfulness practices have not only been shown to be beneficial for navigating the difficulties of life, but also for engaging in the positives and for cultivating greater creativity, problem-solving and invention. In this 1-hour session the University will begin by exploring what contemporary mindfulness is (and what it isn’t) before engaging in two activities on May 27. Book here.

Birmingham’s Town Hall and Symphony Hall announce first Jazz Fest line-up, Mon Aug 23- Sat Aug 28

British-Bahraini trumpeter, Yazz Ahmed, Jazz FM Act of the Year 2020

The line-up for Birmingham’s first ever Jazz Fest includes Birmingham-based saxophonist/rapper Soweto Kinch and Jazz FM’s UK Jazz Act of the Year 2020, Yazz Ahmed, new trio Warmer Than Blood and highly acclaimed,
Birmingham-born jazz pianist Reuben James. Also performing will be the Paula Gardiner Quartet, the Romarna Campbell Trio, the Camilla George Quartet, the Daniel Casimir Quintet, and the ever-popular Notebenders, who will close the Festival with a host of new numbers.

Reuben James

Jazz Fest, in partnership with Jazz FM, will allow audiences to enjoy free and low-cost performances at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth, on stage at Symphony Hall and in Symphony Hall’s brand-new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space.

Alongside Jazz Fest, the Jazzlines Summer School is set to return in 2021, as Symphony Hall opens its doors once again to young musicians from Birmingham and the surrounding areas. This year’s free, non-residential course will run from Mon Aug 23-Fri Aug 27 for young people aged between 11 and 19. Combining the Summer School with the Festival means that THSH can offer the chance for the young musicians to see and hear some of the best British talent in action, as well as learning alongside them.

Tickets for Jazz Fest are available now at:

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