Birmingham and the wider West Midlands came alive with an atmosphere and vibe never seen before as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games rolled into town, bringing with it global TV coverage, thousands of extra visitors to the city and a new icon… the mechanical bull from the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony!
If you’re still buzzing from the spectacular event and keen to keep the memories alive, here’s the Staying Cool guide to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
When did the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games take place?
The Commonwealth Games took place right on our doorstep between Thursday, July 28 and Monday, August 8, 2022.
With 11 days of swimming and diving, eight days of cricket, eight days of gymnastics and seven days of athletics, including the marathon, the summer of 2022 saw a spectacular home Games for Birmingham.
Since the Games were awarded to Birmingham in December 2017, the city has hosted the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, Badminton Open Championships and Gymnastics World Cup. Brum has hosted more European and World championships than any other city in the UK!
The Commonwealth Games was first held in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930, when 11 countries sent a total of 400 athletes to take part in the inaugural event.
Fast forward to 2022 and there were more than 300 sessions across dozens of different sports, featuring thousands of competitors from across the Commonwealth.
The Birmingham 2022 competition schedule featured more medal events for women than men for the first time in Commonwealth Games history, as well as a fully integrated para-sport programme.
But that’s not all, Birmingham 2022 also features a region-wide celebration of art and culture with an ambitious cultural programme described as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity to positively disrupt the region’s cultural sector and inspire lasting change’. The arts programme continues into the autumn and winter of 2022 with various exhibitions, displays and events, sich as the stunning Polinations in Victoria Square.
Taking place over six months the cultural programme will have entertained at least 2.5 million people, setting Birmingham and the West Midlands in a new creative light.
Oh, and let’s not forget the official Birmingham 2022 mascot: Perry (named after Perry Barr) is a proper Brummie!
He’s described as ‘strong, kind and a little bit cheeky’ and has been seen by more than a billion people all over the world.
And then there’s Perry’s big brother, or dad, the new Birmingham Bull, which was a star attraction at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony and is now attracting thousands of visitors at his new home in Centenary Square, for the duration of The Games. Discussions are ongoing for a permanent home (and name!) for the mechanical bull.
Commonwealth Games organisers recruited more than 13,000 volunteers to be the heartbeat of the event and to help deliver the biggest sporting and cultural event the region has ever seen. In their vivid orange and grey outfits, the ‘the Commonwealth Collective’ have been the stars of the show and deserve all the praise they are receiving for helping to create a memorable event.
Where could I soak up the Commonwealth Games atmosphere?
During the Games, there were major Festival Sites in two iconic areas of Birmingham city centre. The first, in Victoria Square and the second at Smithfield – just yards from Rotunda – alongside the Beach Volleyball, Basketball 3×3 and Wheelchair Basketball 3×3 venues.
The sites were free to access and included live performances, entertainment and special events, as well as giant screens where people could gather to watch the sporting action and the ceremonies.
The Birmingham 2022 Festival sites combined sport, culture and entertainment and provided an opportunity to be part of the Games, even if you didn’t have a ticket for the sporting action, or if you wanted to continue your Games experience following a visit to a competition venue.
Which sports took place at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games?
Birmingham 2022 saw the debut of 3×3 basketball and also brought wheelchair basketball into the Games for the first time. The event saw the return of judo, alongside a whole list of elite athletics, aquatics, cycling, tri events and more.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Athletics – Marathon
Athletics and Para Athletics
Aquatics – Swimming and Para Swimming
Aquatics – Diving
Basketball 3×3 and Wheelchair Basketball 3×3
Cycling – Mountain Bike
Cycling – Road Race
Cycling – Time Trial
Cycling – Track and Para Track
Gymnastics – Artistic
Gymnastics – Rhythmic
Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls
Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis
Triathlon and Para Triathlon
Where was the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place?
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games took place across the West Midlands with Birmingham at its heart. The venues being used for the Games stretched from Coventry, Solihull, and Royal Leamington Spa to Cannock Chase Forest, Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton.
Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, was at the centre of the action. The stadium was rebuilt and hosted all athletics events and the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.
The Alexander Stadium reconstruction plans involve an ongoing new residential neighbourhood, redeveloped railway station and changes to major roads in the area to create a legacy for Perry Barr.
The beach volley ball took place at Smithfield which guests at Rotunda were able to see from their apartment windows. That said, you can’t beat a ringside seat!
What were the venues for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games?
Cannock Chase Forest
Coventry Stadium and Arena
Lea Valley Velopark
Sandwell Aquatics Centre
St Nicholas Park
University of Birmingham
Who competed at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games?
You could see stars from 72 Commonwealth countries coming to Birmingham and the West Midlands, with the four home nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) making it a total of 76.
Birmingham-born Myles Hesson, who currently plays basketball in France, scored a two-point shot in overtime to earn England Commonwealth gold in the 3×3 Basketball at the 2022 Games.
Another Brummie, boxer Delicious Orie, won super heavyweight gold at his hometown Games, Staffordshire swimmer Adam Peaty won 50m breaststroke gold, plus Cricketer Amy Jones, from Solihull, represented England in the 2022 Games, reaching the semi-finals.
In an interview with the event organisers, Amy said: “It’s absolutely brilliant that women’s cricket is taking centre stage at my home Games, and I can’t wait to compete for gold at the world-famous Edgbaston stadium, which also happens to be my home ground.
“I’m proud that Birmingham 2022 is giving women’s sport such a huge platform, and I have no doubt that it will inspire young girls in the West Midlands and around the world to follow in our footsteps.”
Was there an arts festival for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham?
Running alongside the showpiece sports, a festival of culture aimed to double the reach of the sporting events of the Games themselves – reaching at least 2.5 million people and participants.
Artworks ranging from the playful to provocative filled high streets, neighbourhoods, parks, waterways, venues and civic spaces of the West Midlands, across traditional art forms and more experimental mediums.
The cultural programme encouraged people to explore and play in public spaces, to discover the region’s heritage and offer opportunities for all ages to find the ‘common ground’ in Commonwealth, especially children and young people.
From March to September 2022, a six-month arts festival encapsulated and explored the spirit of the Games, and gave Birmingham its moment in the spotlight. It reached artists and audiences across the West Midlands.
Three simple themes represent the starting point. They are: Our place in the Commonwealth, The present moment and Stories of Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Who created the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony?
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight was among the creative team that delivered the opening ceremony for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The incredible event took place at the Alexander Stadium on July 28th in front of 30,000 people at the stadium and a TV audience of 1.5 billion.
The same team will also produced the closing ceremony on August 8th, which celebrated local music from UB40 to Dexys, Beverley Knight to The Selector and, of course, a showstopping finale from Birmingham’s Prince of Darkness, the one and only Ozzy Osbourne!
The creative team in full:
Iqbal Khan – Artistic Director
A globally renowned, Birmingham born, Theatre Director. Most known for modern retellings of the classics and has worked in the UK and abroad on the world’s most high-profile stages.
Maeve Clarke – Writer
A published novelist and short story writer from Birmingham, Maeve’s credits include Whispers in the Walls, an anthology of new Black and Asian voices from Birmingham.
Joshua ‘RTKal’ Holness – Music Director
International rapper and music maker, Joshua has used music to unite and entertain audiences across the world. In 2018 he co-created a project offering music education and recording facilities to youths and underprivileged groups in Birmingham.
Misty Buckley – Production Designer
Recently nominated for a BAFTA Award for Stormzy’s performance at Glastonbury Festival, Misty has extensive international experience of set design for large scale ceremonies and live events. This includes Coldplay’s 2016 Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, London 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony and the Rugby World Cup 2015 Opening Ceremony.
Hamish Hamilton – Broadcast Director
Hamish has directed and executive-produced countless ceremonies, award shows, concerts, and unique special events across the world. He is a twice BAFTA Award winner, plus Grammy and Emmy nominated global authority on live event broadcast.
Steven Knight CBE – Executive Producer
Creator and writer of Birmingham’s most famous export, Peaky Blinders. Steven has also written screenplays for the films Closed Circuit, Dirty Pretty Things, and Eastern Promises, and has directed and written the films Locke, and Hummingbird (also known as Redemption.)
Where could I find official Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games merchandise?
The Birmingham 2022 merchandise store opened at the foot of Rotunda, right on Staying Cool’s doorstep, selling soft toys, cute Birmingham Commonwealth Games clothing, small gifts and more.
There was also a Commonwealth Games Megastore in Centenary Square, next to Symphony Hall, which doubled as the BBC TV studios for the Games.
All official merchandise, including super cute Perry The Bull soft toys, was also available to buy online at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Shop.
Where could I stay in Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games?
With the 3×3 basketball and beach volleyball taking place at Smithfield, just yards from Staying Cool’s Rotunda aparthotel, and artistic and rhythmic at Arena Birmingham, a short walk across the city centre near Brindleyplace, guests were perfectly placed to enjoy the sporting showcase by using our apartments and penthouses as a Commonwealth Games base.
Our stylish spaces are perfect for families to enjoy the once-in-a-generation event with spectacular views, minimalist décor, family games, speciality coffee, popcorn makers and fresh juice from your own juicer to set you up nicely for the sporting celebrations. The Independent also recommended our Birmingham aparthotel as a top eco-friendly place to stay during the games.
Fancy visiting Rotunda sooner? Bring the family and check out our Family Guide to Birmingham this Summer.
Birmingham 2022 organisers worked with Staying Cool and Rotunda to shoot a stunning video from our rooftop to raise awareness of the main ticket ballot opening.
Featuring king of the pommel horse Max Whitlock balancing on Rotunda’s roof, the brilliant video features some of Brum’s loveliest landmarks and a signature backflip from the Bull!
Watch it here:
The Birmingham 2022 Festival
A major part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Birmingham 2022 Festival was a £12 million six-month-long celebration of West Midlands creativity and culture surrounding the sporting action taking place at the Games.
The Birmingham 2022 Festival started in March 2022. It harnessed the year of the Games to shine a spotlight on the region’s diverse cultural sector.
Described as ‘audacious, playful, and inclusive’, the Birmingham 2022 Festival ‘connects people, time and is designed to entertain, engage, and embrace audiences’, while positively disrupting and inspiring lasting change.
With the aim of engaging 2.5 million people, both in person – with many events near Staying Cool at Rotunda! – and online, the Festival was designed to reflect the people of the region, exploring heritage, diversity and youth.
Delivering around 250 commissioned projects, there were approximately 150 community-led projects and around 100 new works from a wide range of artists including dance, drama, and visual arts projects.
The Spirit of 2012 has generously funded Critical Mass, an ambitious project bringing together a young and inclusive cast of dancers who performed throughout the Festival and the Games’ ceremonies.
Participants are performing in some of 2022’s biggest cultural events including the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies thanks to funding from the Spirit of 2012.
Creative City Grants have provided up to 150 community groups across Birmingham with grants of up to £20,000 to deliver creative projects that impact positively on their community supported by £2 million of funding from Birmingham City Council.
The Birmingham 2022 Festival worked on a number of projects including Critical Mass in partnership with DanceXchange.
So what happened during the Birmingham 2022 Festival?
Here’s a look at some of the cultural events taking place across the West Midlands.
Wondrous Stories in Centenary Square
On 17 March 2022, the Birmingham 2022 Festival officially began with Wondrous Stories, a spectacular free production in Centenary Square, featuring a cast of over 300 performers.
Aerialists and dancers took to the skies above the public square and giant set pieces, such as a flying book, hovered over the city centre skyline.
Eastside Projects showcased various painting, sculpture film and performance projects explored Birmingham’s positions, affinities and complicities within the Commonwealth by working with four international artists to create a series of new projects across the city.
Flatpack Festival at Birmingham 2022
Birmingham’s brilliant Flatpack Festival presented Wonderland, a unique heritage project telling the film-going story of Birmingham – from fairground film shows to the birth of the Odeon, from South Asian picture-houses to the modern-day multiplex era.
With a team of partners and volunteers, Flatpack Festival explored how cinema has shaped the streets, social lives and dreams of Brummies over the past century, leading to a programme of exhibitions and special events in summer 2022.
The Wonderland exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery remains on display until the end of 2022.
Generations photography exhibition
Produced, curated and managed by GRAIN Projects and Multistory, Generations celebrated families, individuals, diversity and the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands.
By Julian Germain, Generations was a large-scale photographic portraiture exhibition that appeared in public settings across the West Midlands.
Four and five generation families from across the city and region were being called upon to be a part of the project. For more information visit the Birmingham 2022 Festival website.