NOW AND THEN: video and pictures of Centenary Square Xmas 10 years ago and today

What a difference a decade makes! As our like-for-like Westside pictures and video below show, the city has changed greatly since 2013. Watch our video here:

To enjoy the best views of the sparkling new Birmingham, the revamped Centenary Square is now clearly the place to be. And it’s just yards from Westside’s bustling pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants on Broad Street, in the neighbouring estate of Brindleyplace and along the canalside Waters Edge.

Also close by are Westside’s other must-see attractions including Gas Street Basin and the Library of Birmingham’s immediate neighbours – Birmingham Rep, Symphony Hall and the ICC.

Back on Sunday 17 November 2013, the views from the Library’s fourth floor garden terrace included the chalets roofs of the former Birmingham Christmas Craft Market.

Our then-and-now pictures also compare Centenary Square’s original multi-coloured, Italianate style block paving with today’s more linear, permanent red and white look following the square’s redevelopment, completed in 2019.

The 2013 terrace view beyond Baskerville House on the left and the Hall of Memory down to the right included two of the city’s most famous Brutalist buildings, designed by architect John Madin. They were the Central Library (with Paradise Forum through its hollow centre) and, rising above in the distance, the NatWest Tower.

2013: the old Central Library as seen from Centenary Square ten years ago.

Both buildings began to be demolished towards the end of 2015. The Central Library area has since been replaced by One and Two Chamberlain Square. The girder-framed One Centenary Way now obscures the terrace’s former view towards the Rotunda and Bullring.

Ten years after the 2013 picture, on Saturday, November 25, 2023, a near full moon with ice crystals forming a growing halo around it was beginning to rise behind 103 Colmore Row – the Natwest Tower’s replacement.

2023: the same view today, with the moon rising over 103 Colmore Row.

Soon it was shining a lunar light across Centenary Square and on Westside’s famous buildings including the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Alpha Tower, HSBC UK HQ and the 1933 former Birmingham Municipal Bank turned University of Birmingham centre, not forgetting The Golden Boys statue of three men from the Lunar Society era.

Our second 2013 picture looking along Broad Street towards the old frontage of Symphony Hall next to the ICC shows the Big Wheel’s pods were exposed to the elements and that Ice Skate Birmingham’s skating rink was outdoors, too.

2013: the Big Wheel ten years ago.

This is the second year of Ice Skate Birmingham’s brand new indoor ice rink in its current form, with the giant AIR ride also returning for a second year alongside the established 55-metre City Flyer ride which takes thrill-seekers as high as the Hyatt and above the 40-metre Big Wheel, now with semi-enclosed pods.

2023: the Big Wheel today.

The biggest change in the two pictures is the difference that LED lighting has made. The Big Wheel alone contains more than 10,000 twinkling little stars to help to make Christmas in Westside 2023 an unforgettable experience.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Symphony Hall has a series of family-friendly festive shows throughout December and The Rep is now staging The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, based on the C. S. Lewis novel, until Sunday, 28 January.

Madness and The Lightning Seeds are at the Utility Arena on December 16 and The Heritage Orchestra will play Home Alone in Concert there on December 20.

Ice Skate Birmingham is open daily except Christmas Day – from 10am-10pm until Sunday 7 January.

The Library of Birmingham open from 11am every day except Sunday, closing at 7pm Monday and Tuesday, and at 5pm from Wednesday to Saturday. Garden terrace access closes half-an-hour before the building.

HOW TO GET THERE

Centenary Square is close enough to walk to from anywhere in the city centre. But the West Midlands Metro tram now stops in Centenary Square, with the line directly linking Edgbaston Village with Wolverhampton via Grand Central / New Street Station. Buses serve Broad Street, too.

Pictures and video all by Graham Young.

ENDS

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