How to organize your own Commonwealth Games in the Midlands | Travel

FFrom the invention of lawn tennis and rugby to a daring 1895 heist of the original FA Cup trophy, Birmingham and the wider West Midlands have always had a close connection to sport. . . although the less said about our modern football teams the better.

Kicking off with an opening ceremony featuring local guys Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi on Thursday, we’re set to welcome the world’s top athletes for the Commonwealth Games and a celebration of 12 days of sport and culture, too – not bad for Britain’s most despised region (birmingham2022.com). And if all the action inspires you to jog, hone your forehand or dig those Speedos, there’s no need to look further. than Brum and its surroundings.

Lawn tennis in Edgbaston

While the Commonwealth Games favor paddles and a table over the rackets and grass of lawn tennis, this quirky racket sport was born in Birmingham thanks to a lawyer called Harry Gem and his Spanish merchant friend Juan Bautista Augurio Perera. Today, Gem’s former Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society – now the oldest lawn tennis club in the world – has four grass courts to play on during the summer months, as well as alternative clay, shale and artificial turf in all weathers. It’s not quite Wimbledon, but it’ll be okay, baby. Monthly subscription starts at £17, but pay £25 social membership and you can get your nose in (clubspark.lta.org.uk) – then go play for free in one of the city’s 12 parks with courts (birmingham.gov. UK).

Volleyball (without beach) at Tamworth

There’s certainly no irony lost on a town smack in the middle of Britain hosting pop-up beach volleyball on concrete slabs. (Our nearest beach is over 100 miles away at Weston-super-Mare, making it Brummie’s annual pilgrimage.) Those inspired by the sport need look no further than Tamworth, where the local Spartans du Bourg club hosts adult volleyball. social sessions at Landau Forte Academy on Wednesday evenings (£5; tamworthspartans.com). Still craving sand? Keep quiet, but there’s a secret sandy bay in nearby Cliff Lakes, plus open-water swimming opportunities and a water obstacle course (swimming £7, water park £20; clifflakes.co. uk).

Cannock Chase

ATV at Cannock Chase

Cycling features heavily at Birmingham 2022 and what the West Midlands lacks in purpose-built velodromes it makes up for with gnarly dirt tracks. Cannock Chase, a designated Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty north of Walsall, will host the mountain biking event of these Games, and cycling enthusiasts can follow in the dust their medal-winning idols on the same tracks (bike hire at from £28 per adult or £15 per child; cannockchasecyclecentre.co.uk). Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are over a dozen trails to ride, including an all-new Pedal and Play option for kids. For more information and to find authorized cycle routes, visit forestengand.uk.

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Rugby

Rugby in . . . Rugby

Legend has it that rugby football was invented at the rugby school in the town of Rugby. Who would have guessed? We West Midlanders like to be creative when we name things. Rugby sevens features at the Commonwealth Games, but followers of the parent game can take part in Saturday tours of the school where William Webb Ellis first caught a ball and ran with it, and its museum (£8 ,50 pp, web.rugbyschool.co.uk) as well as a visit to the nearby Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum (free; therugbytown.co.uk). Want to watch a game? Wasps buzzed from London to nearby Coventry in 2014 and now play their home games at Birmingham 2022 rugby venue, the Building Society Arena (wasps.co.uk).

Calorific runs

Eating dark chocolate before a run is supposed to give you a boost (scientists say so), and what better way to prove that theory than a 4.5 mile run through the house of the biggest company of confectionery from Great Britain? You could visit Cadbury World, but on the Run of a Kind shock-themed tour around Birmingham’s south-east fringes, you’ll jog through Bournville, a historic model village built by the Cadbury family in 1895 for the factory workers, and trace the footsteps of those who grew their empire (£21; runofakindbirmingham.com). This will definitely earn you another Crunchie.

The wave in Coventry

Making a splash in Coventry

Think water parks and you probably don’t think Coventry – but you should, because the UK’s biggest wave pool is here. Containing 20 million liters and generating breakers of varying heights, this facility is one of many on the Wave; a lazy river, spa and six epic slides are also on offer, not to mention a 25m swimming pool (from £12.50; thewavecoventry.com). As the Commonwealth’s greatest swimmers show off their backstrokes or butterfly strokes at the new Sandwell Aquatics Center in Smethwick, maybe it’s time to perfect yours?

Birmingham's Jewelery Quarter

Birmingham’s Jewelery Quarter

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Trophies and Tours in Birmingham’s Jewelery Quarter

Not content with producing 40% of the UK’s jewellery, Birmingham’s jewelery district has also had a say in much of Britain’s sporting prowess. Take this original FA Cup for example: after it was stolen from a store in 1895 after home side Aston Villa triumphed, a Jewelery Quarter trophy maker produced the official replacement. Whistles used by football referees were also made by the Acme company of Jewelery Quarter; I highly recommend a tour of his factory (£14.50; acmewhistles.co.uk). Meanwhile, the Birmingham 2022 medals (and parts of the ceremonial baton) have also been designed and produced in the region. As the Jewelery Quarter Museum is unfortunately closed at the moment, learn more by joining a two-hour guided walk instead (£17; viator.com)

Where to stay

The Grand Hotel, Birmingham

After sitting empty for nearly 20 years, Birmingham’s most lavish hotel reopened last year after a £50million restoration. The Grand once hosted Tom Cruise in luxurious suites with four-poster beds, free-standing baths and in-room table football ever since. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to these, opt for a cozy loft room.
Details Double rooms only from £129 (thegrandhotelbirmingham.co.uk)

Telegraph Hotel

Telegraph Hotel, Coventry

Within the former headquarters of the Coventry Telegraph newspaper, the Telegraph Hotel offers 1960s-inspired art deco rooms, including the Lord Iliffe Suite, which reflects the newspaper’s former owner’s private penthouse. Equally cool is the printworks-style industrial theme in the rooftop bar.
Details Double rooms only from £59 (telegraph-hotel.com)

St. Paul’s House, Birmingham

In the heart of Birmingham’s Jewelery Quarter, this boutique hotel is a great place to unwind after a day of exploring. After learning about medals, whistles and batons, retreat to one of 34 rooms with rain showers and pod coffee machines. The restaurant is as aesthetic as its cuisine is delicious.
Details Double rooms only from £108 (saintpaulshouse.com)

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