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Birmingham

Regeneration, renewal and grand-scale construction continue apace in Britain's second-largest city. A state-of-the-art library, gleaming shopping centre atop revitalised New St station and beautifully restored Victorian buildings are just some of the successful initiatives of its Big City Plan, following on from the striking Mailbox and Bullring shopping malls and the iconic Selfridges building's 'bubblewrapped' facade. Work is underway on extensions to the Metro (light rail/tram) network, and on the centrepiece Paradise development's new hotels, public spaces, and glitzy residential and commercial buildings, with final completion due in 2025.

Alongside Birmingham's picturesque canals, waterside attractions, outstanding museums and galleries is an explosion of gastronomic restaurants, cool and/or secret cocktail bars and craft breweries. Thriving legacies of the city's industrial heritage include its Jewellery Quarter, Cadbury manufacturing plant and former custard factory turned cutting-edge creative hub.

And in 2022, Birmingham will host the Commonwealth Games. 'Brum', as it's locally dubbed, is buzzing.

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