Issue 264
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BON VOYAGE, ANNUAL LEAVE

Not enough "oh mate" left in the world to sum up 2018, is there? But with the minor matter of a quiet departure from a certain trading union aside, it is but a distant memory. This year is going to be our year and that's a guarantee*. Your year, my year, even that guy over there's year. And to celebrate that stone cold fact (and because January is the busiest month for booking jollies) we've cherrypicked 12 global events, one per month, that will literally — yes LITERALLY — blow your mind. And they're all reachable direct from BHX. You're a handsome devil, 2019.  
*this is absolutely not a guarantee  
January: Amsterdam
 Festival of Light
You'll find 30 luminous artworks and light installations around the city, selected from more than 600 entries to the Festival of Light. Now in its seventh year, take a tour of the mass, urban exhibition by bike, on foot, or by boat — BY BOAT! Until January 20. Get there with KLM or flybe
 February: Venice
 Venice Carnival
Celebrated across the world in the run-up to Lent, Venice has been marking Carnival since the 11th century, so they kinda know what they're doing by this point. From Feb 16 until March 5, expect an obscene number of masquerade balls, gala dinners, shows and all this. Get there with jet2.com
 March: Delhi
 Holi

Also known as the Festival of Colours, Holi is a Hindu affair, marking the beginning of spring, and yes it is the one that looks like a mass-paint fight you need to be in. A'happening across India (and increasingly the world) on March 20 and 21, head to New Delhi for traditional, huge, rowdyish events with frenetic amounts of music, powdered paints and hosing downs. Get to Delhi with Air India
 April: Rome
 Easter

Whatever your views on life, Rome is a spectacle of a spot to find yourself in over Easter weekend (April 19 to 22). Join 20,000ish pilgrims, tourists and everything in between to see a candle-lit procession by the Pope and his crew right next to the Colosseum on the evening of Good Friday. Then eat pasta and enjoy the fact you can go away for three whole nights without using up any annual leave. Get there with jet2.com
 May: Vienna
 Wiener Festwochen

Join thousands for the opening of the five-week festival, with its proper good sounding dance, music and visual arts, including Hyperreality — three nights in which a former coffin factory will serve as an experimental electronic music club. Wiener Festwochen begins on May 10 with a huge, free concert on City Hall Square. The full programme will be released on February 14. Get there with Eurowings 
 June: Barcelona and Porto
 Primavera Sound

The Barca edition of this music festival takes place at a colossal venue on the marina, with the city centre thirty minutes away. From May 30 to June 1, performers include Solange and Tame Impala. The following weekend, it's Porto's turn to host. Portugal's largest urban park is the location for little sis soiree Primavera Sound Porto, and the lineup is indie, hip-hop and electronic. Get to Barcelona with Vueling, Iberia or Ryanair, and to Porto with Ryanair
 July: France 
 Tour de France

There are 195 countries in the world and the Tour de France is broadcast in 190 of them. Therefore qualifying as a pretty big deal, how about getting race-side for this year's battle? Catch the Grand Depart in Brussels on July 6, the festival-like finish up the Champs-Élysées in Paris on July 28, or check out the whole route if mountains and countryside are more your thing. Get to Brussels with flybe or Brussels Airlines, and to Paris with Air France
 August: Copenhagen
 Cooking and Food 
Festival
As if you need a food-based excuse to visit Copenhagen and its 19 Michelin stars. For ten days from August 23 (including over the UK bank hol) the capital of Scandi gastronomy hosts over 100 events including plenty of experimental street food, the opportunity to dine at the home of Copenhagen's top chefs, and the biggie — the long table dinner. Be one of more than 1,400 diners to take to a table that's 500-metres in length along central Frederiksberg Allé, which is closed and transformed into a massive feasting and folk festival (pictured top). Get there with SAS
 September: Budapest
 Wine Festival

As spectacular backdrops go, a Baroque palace with World Heritage approved status is right up there when it comes to wine festivals. Every September, tens of thousands of people wind their way up to the totally-worthy-of-a-visit-in-its-own-right grounds of Buda Castle to get up-to-date with Hungary's top drops, plus a selection of international big hitters. Get there with Wizz Air
 October: Munich
 Oktoberfest

Handsome Munich is worth a look-see at any time of year but from September 21 to October 6 you'll you get the largest beer festival and travelling funfair in the world to add to the history and the food and the shopping. Last year, 7.5 million litres of Oktoberfest beer were served to over six million visitors. Which sounds like some people weren't trying hard enough to us. Get there with Lufthansa
 November: Istanbul
 Marathon

The Istanbul marathon is not just any 26-mile jaunt. It's said to be the only marathon in the world that starts in Asia and concludes in European, over the Bosphorus, via the city's biggest sites. Going since 1979, it's known for being super well organised and there's a 10k option. Think of those lamb chops for afters. Get there with Turkish Airlines
 December: Dubai
 Rugby 7s

For the final month of the year, we're prescribing sunshine. It's the 50th Dubai Rugby Sevens from December 5 to 7, and average highs of 26°C. The fast-moving 300-team tournie is a big deal in town, with about as much party going on as there is as sport. It's even got its own music festival. Get there with Emirates

A WORLD OF PURE IMAGINATION


Honestly, what was Wonka playing at? Testing his reckless treats on six minors and, presumably, landing the rest of the nation's kids with obesity. Still, what a movie and the older you get the more you realise the role the musical score plays in his part-magical, part-eerie factory. A World of Pure Imagination is just one of the tracks to be played at the CBSO's Friday Night Classics series. It'll sit alongside scores from The Godfather II, Poppins, Close Encounters and loads more, on February 22 as part of their A Night at the Oscars concert, just two days before the actual Oscars. There's a Musicals night, 60s-themed Fridays, Bond evenings and a January sale all ready to book too, here. From £13.  

LETTERBOX FOR YOUR INBOX


Pho is the best chain restaurant in the UK and this is a hill we will fight and die upon. Which makes the following forty words all the more interesting. The masters of Vietnamese are offering one subscriber to Letterbox (formally known as Bell & Smokey) a 50% off all food card to be used as many times as you want throughout 2019, at their Grand Central branch. Nice, right? Letterbox is our super beautiful sister publication, a female-focussed title (although you absolutely can possess a Y chromosome and still win) and their schtick is style, culture, travel and trends. Just like us, the email is free, they never send spam and your email address goes nowhere but their own database. Ever.

FILM OF THE WEEK: STAN & OLLIE


This is a rare triple-generational film, something someone 30ish could see with their parents and grandparents and all would have a fine time. And it's just lovely, even if the premise sounds dark: an ageing and cash-strapping Laurel and Hardy touring 50s Britain (Brum’s own Old Rep stands in for a theate in Newcastle) and confronting a world that has passed them by. What makes this special is the meticulous attention and care Steve Coogan and John C Reilly have put into ventriloquising the two icons, both on and off-stage — no prizes for guessing who plays who. Not much happens in this gentle film, but the stars’ — and the film’s — affection for the iconic comics shines though in both the tender private moments as they reflect on what amounts to a marriage between them and in the flawless recreations of routines you’ll be surprised you remember. Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, meanwhile, are both absolute riots as Mrs Laurel and Mrs Hardy. Times & trailer

SEEDLIP X
HAMPTON MANOR


Whether you're swerving the old ABVs for the New Year, or looking for a more permanent change, a proudly booze-less dinner has just been announced that's going to improve your entire month. On Jan 31, Seedlip's Luke Pearson is mixing the drinks, whilst Hampton Manor's Michelin-starred restaurant pairs four fresh, versatile serves with four plates of delicious. It's £75 to get your seat, which also includes a proper good cocktail using Seedlip's Grove 42, canapes and coffees. In your face, January. Book

CALI GRAPES,
B-TOWN POSTCODE


It's 5,209 miles to the tasting rooms of Orin Swift Cellars in Napa Valley. It's pretty much 5,209 times less far to the Californian Wine Dinner their grapes are being featured at on Jan 24. Hosted by the official unofficial mayor of vin in Brum, Tony Elvin, it's £75 a spot, which gets you an arrival drink, followed by four courses matched with five wines, which sounds like a strong food: drink ratio to us. One of a series of dinners by The Wine Events Co at the Hyatt, we're also liking the look of the Best of British dinner in May.  

FROM PATRICIA
WITH LOVE


No you didn't fall asleep and wake up in Shoreditch, Hibiscus flower tacos are now a thing you can get in Brum. The proudly authentic Chalupa Mexican Food's first city centre pop-up is at Warehouse Cafe on January 19 with an orgy of veggie and vegan tacos, sharers, soups, and nachos. Slow-cooked woodland mushrooms on a beetroot or tumeric taco anyone? From Mexico City, chef Patricia Sosa is joining the team, for lunch and dinner service. Full menu. Book
Venue: Gaijin Sushi, 78 Bristol Street, B5 7AH; Website 
Choice: Scorched belly salmon nigiri (market price) Chooser: Chef

Though Nocturnal Animals got very close, there is no restaurant we were asked about more last year than Gaijin Sushi, just down from Quarter Horse Coffee on Bristol Street. It's the spot pals are forever "meaning to go" but haven't quite made it to yet. So like the dutiful servants to the city that we are, the ICB team went back to the low key sushi bar to check our hearts-for-eyes love of Gaijin is as justified now as it was when chef Michal Kubiak opened up in March. In true You Choose form, chef picked all our food, conjuring via some sort of divine Japanese being a sushi platter to go full Cheshire cat over. It's not possible to overstate quite how satisfying the soft shell crab uramaki feels in your mouth — under the soft, glutinous, outer rice layer, a perfectly cooked and seasoned Sebastian is to be found with cucumber for crunch and a little kanpyō — the mirin-soaked shavings of a large, fleshy Japanese fruit — for contrast. While the sashimi was decent, it wasn't the dish we'll be stopping in at every available opportunity for. That would be the scorched salmon belly nigiri — two perfectly caramelised pieces of plump, fatty fish, blowtorched into one of our top five bites of 2018. Two things have changed since Gaijin opened up in March: 1. the restaurant is now (bump them fists) licensed and serving sake; and 2. the food is even better. Top of the list, lads. Top of the list. 
More
 
A handful of tickets remain for a mass game of Cluedo coming to the city centre on May 18. People are so flipping organised.
Time for something all shiny and new? BMAG's hosting a singles social, with art and giant board games and sketching and drinks. On January 26 from 6.30pm, tickets are £15.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Luke 1977 has designed a totally boss new uniform for Simpsons restaurant. Read all about it. Then head here for your chance to win a £200 Luke 1977 voucher. Nice right?
The first showing from Stirchley Open Cinema is Three Billboards on January 18. It's a fiver in and you're actively encouraged to bring snacks.
This Sunday, The Dead Canary — Wales' most awarded cocktail bar — is taking over Nocturnal Animals from 3pm. Just turn up. The deets


"'Heaven has no taste. And not one single sushi restaurant.' A look of pain crossed the angel's suddenly very serious face."


'Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch' by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett



 
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenAndrew Lowry
PICTURES: Festival of Light — Janus van den Eijnden, Primavera Sound — Eric Pamies, Budapest Wine Festival — Zsolt Szigetváry, Oktoberfest — ©Munich Tourism, Alfred Mueller, Tour de France — Flickr Creative Commons s.yuki, Rugby Sevens — Flickr Creative Commons: LandRoverMena, Seedlip dinner — Fjona Black — Stan & Ollie: Sony Picture Classics  


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