New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, which means it’s time to strategize. How else can you pick up something appropriately festive for yourself while you’re out holiday shopping? We suggest complementing your cocktail threads for this year’s new event: New Year’s Eve at the Redmont.
More specifically, on its rooftop bar, The Roof.
There are plenty of wonderful ways to ring in a new year. Romantic fine dining, house parties with friends, champagne on your very own couch–these are all valid choices. But there are some events that are inherently memorable, and our money is on the Redmont to be among them.
We’ve advocated for ticketed events in the past for one simple reason: it’s nice to know there’s room at your destination. And with the Redmont evening’s tiered pricing, you can choose what level of accommodation you expect, from General Hotel Admission to a rooftop sofa with your name on it. Or make a complete evening of it by purchasing tickets to Harvest’s prix fixe dinner that night as well.
But decide soon. All but the VIP ticket sales end Friday, December 16.
It’s hard to imagine a bad choice, though, if it involves city views from 14 stories up. The twinkling lights of downtown’s Loft District are unfailingly magical. And spying landmark buildings from City Federal to the Thomas Jefferson Tower? Well, that’s a wider angle than your average downtown resident can boast.
The view is reason enough to visit The Roof anytime, but even more so this time.
At its heart, celebrating New Year’s Eve is marking time by secular ritual. It’s honoring (and sometimes shedding) our past as we hold out our hopes for the future. And at its very best, it’s about doing those things collectively. In this, our new Birmingham era, what better way to celebrate the developments of 2016 than at one of them?
Living in Alabama, it’s easy to be envious of falling snow and white Christmas movies. Santa’s not quite the same in shirt sleeves, after all. Wintry holidays are supposed to be crisp and a little icy, but that’s rarely been the outdoor experience here in Birmingham. It’s all changing this year, though, with the introduction of ice skating in Railroad Park.
Of course, it’s the setting that makes this rink so exciting. Railroad Park celebrates everything the city is becoming, and al fresco ice skating is one more way it brings our dreams into being. What are the holidays for, after all, if not a bit of improbable magic?
Park staff have also created the ideal holiday shopping spot each Saturday through Christmas Eve: a marketplace of Birmingham-based giftables–in addition to the existing Rainy Day spot— surrounded by the charm of outdoor fun. Reclaim the holiday season from consumerist stress and enjoy where we are right now, simply by ice skating in Railroad Park.
Two hours on the ice plus a pair of rental skates is only $10, but season passes are available too. Come on down. We’ll see you there.
We like to combine our modern holiday reveling with a solid dose of nostalgia. So our recommended Birmingham holiday events combine things we love about the city right now with the warm patina of the past. Classics new and old that make our city come alive. Below is a quick roundup, but check back Wednesday and Saturday for two more events that have garnered their own individual posts.
Sure, you could drive around and see plenty of Christmas lights on your own schedule, but why not make a Birmingham party of it? One tour ticket supports two worthy causes: science camps for kids and a willing audience for light enthusiasts. “If you get up and add 60,000 lights off of your roof, you are not cursed with shyness,” tour creator and Fresh Air Family executive director Verna Gates told us last year. “You want people to come.”
This Naked Art Gallery event offers plenty of worthwhile shopping, of course–the event theme is “procrastinators, unite!”–but our favorite element is the annual “Kitschmas booth” photo op. Sure, you could make photos with Santa your holiday tradition, but this looks more fun, no?
You’ve seen the movie a million times, but we bet you haven’t seen the musical–the Virginia Samford Theatre swears their production is the first in Alabama. Why not try this new spin on an old favorite, and enjoy this theatre nestled in a Highland Park.
“RMTC Conservatory students perform alongside Birmingham’s best local artists to warm your heart and set the stage for a magical holiday season!” according the event description. Trailers from previous years remind us of a variety-style TV holiday special but live, and enjoyed from our very own theatre district.
If you’re like us, you’ve watched your fair sample of the tiny house television trend. But what does 210 square feet actually feel like? How do you effectively divvy up the size of some closets to host an entire life? And what are the lessons there for the non-tiny living among us? This week is your chance to find out, as local company Eco Three presents the lessons from Grace and Corbett Lunsford’s Proof is Possible Tour, parked this week at Innovation Depot.
The truth is that this tour isn’t really about the tiny house. Check out Eco Three’s press release, and you’ll see the house is what the Lunsfords have dubbed their “TinyLab,” a vehicle–both literally and metaphorically–for sharing their message of objective home testing. Still, the tour is a chance to step inside a tiny home, and that was a big draw for us.
Attend the daily tours from 5-6 p.m., and Corbett will meet you at the door with a rundown of the home’s efficiency. Enter, and wife Grace–with the couple’s nine-month-old daughter–will talk about the experience of the home. On Monday night she put the area’s gusting winds to good use, pointing out a tight sound envelope that mostly eliminated the weather noise.
The Lunsford’s message is that your home’s systems–from its sealing to its HVAC–collaborate on your family’s living environment. Identifying and fixing your home’s weak points should be about a holistic testing approach, Corbett explains in the press release, rather than a parade of single-trade specialists.
Find out more about that process during the week’s events–we’ve pasted the schedule below–or contact Eco Three anytime. The company’s testimonials include clients from some of our favorite historic neighborhoods who’ve used Eco Three’s services to make their homes more comfortable.
MON-FRI, 5-6pm: Open House Tours of the #TinyLab tiny house on wheels (FREE- No registration required)
TUESDAY, 12-1pm: Open House Tours of the #TinyLab tiny house on wheels (FREE- No registration required)
WEDS, 9-10:30am: Profiting from Home Performance in Real Estate ($20- registration required)
THURS, 6-8pm: Home Performance Crash Course for Homeowners (FREE – registration required)
FRI, 9am-1pm: Advanced Techniques and Tools for Home Performance ($99- 2 BPI CEUs, registration required)
SAT, 11 am-1pm: How To Engineer and Build a High Performance Tiny House ($49- Limited to 8, registration required)
As much as we don’t miss the summer heat, it’s hard not to miss some of this city’s great summer events. The end of Art on the Rocks, for one, always hits us hard, but the Birmingham Museum of Art has softened the blow with its fall series. Like Art on the Rocks, the BMA’s Art After 5 offers nontraditional museum hours and a social experience of art.
We’ve talked before about the museum’s efforts to be relevant and fun beyond your stereotypical art aficionado, and the Art After 5 series is one more example. There’s the excitement of being in the museum at night, for starters. Plus, the chatty buzz of a cocktail crowd and modern DJ mixing forms our favorite backdrop for art viewing–from mod Wedgewood pieces to Italian biblical scenes.
So what separates Art After 5 from Art on the Rocks? It’s more relaxed, mostly. The musical performances lean toward jazz and folk duos rather than full bands, and the evenings end earlier.
Billed as a way to “unwind from the week,” Art After 5 strikes the perfect tone for those who aren’t ready to head home yet but may or may not be in for a full night out. Consider it your cultural happy hour, equally adept at closing out your public day or transitioning gracefully into night.
And the museum’s location works for either inclination–walking distance to all the living, working, and playing downtown has to offer. Continue your evening at the newly re-opened Redmont rooftop bar, or head out in time to grab a Trattoria Centrale dinner to go as you head back to your Loft District home. And if you’re a member of this fine neighborhood establishment, you can drop by for free.
But hurry up, the last Art After 5 of the season is this Friday, December 2.
Birmingham Fashion Week has a new home this year at the Boutwell Auditorium downtown. The location offers plenty of upgrades over the week’s former fashion tents at Pepper Place, co-founder Jeana Lee Thompson told B-Metro Magazine, like parking facilities and air conditioning. She’s also excited about associating the event with this “historic city landmark,” she said.
Boutwell, it turns out, isn’t just a building but a continuing time capsule of our city. It highlights both points of pride and cautionary tales, along with real debates about which places are worth keeping.
Originally called the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium, a 1919 piece in Birmingham Magazine lauded the campaign to finance it by issuing municipal bonds. “Strongly organized community effort gave Birmingham its auditorium and taught Birmingham a valuable lesson–the value of organized community effort with able and energetic leadership,” the magazine said.
Boutwell is “arguably the single most important building in the history of the 20th-century South” wrote Glenn T. Eskew — originally from Birmingham, then an associate professor of history at Georgia State — in a 2008 op-ed for the Birmingham News. “The two defining events that took place in Birmingham’s Municipal Auditorium concerned the transformation of the region following the collapse of the Old South’s cotton regime: the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in 1938 and the States Rights Convention in 1948,” he said. “The outcome of these two meetings — like that of a two-act play — marked the region’s path to modernism and cast shadows that influenced the country for decades.”
A 2011 AL.com piece reviewed the debate over mending versus abandoning Boutwell. On the one hand, area radio personality Scott Register described the facility as a sub-par concert hall with cramped seating and bad acoustics. But Todd Coder, who works on the booking side of concerts, said the city needs a space Boutwell’s size, something “as a halfway point between a place like the Alabama Theatre and the BJCC Arena.” AL.com also reported proposals to cede the land to the Birmingham Museum of Art. And even some of those advocating for the presence of an auditorium of Boutwell’s size in that spot, weren’t necessarily ruling out a new building.
For now, though, Loft District residents can enjoy the blend of history and revival at Boutwell. After all, it’s never been so stylish.
On Saturday, August 20, BRW is offering a grand brunch sampling. Participants include local institutions like Rojo and Silvertron, along with the newer Harvest and Ovenbird.
And if food and drink — including Royal Cup Nitro Coffee and a Mimosa bar — weren’t enough, the BRW team has put together a true event: live music and foodie shopping opportunities are included in the ticket price. All this magic will take place in Woodlawn’s Social Venture space, which only proves our own Matt Neal’s point that Woodlawn is a neighborhood to watch.
There’s also a very worthy beneficiary of your brunch ticket dollars in the Urban Food Project. The REV Birmingham program coordinates area farmers and underserved urban markets to bring fresh produce where it’s needed and boost local food production, according to its website.
Don’t stop with brunch, though. Dive into all of Restaurant Week’s amazing foodie options. Tempting new menus and long-time favorites always battle for the finite space in our calendars and stomachs.
As much as we talk about the foodie culture of the downtown Loft District and Avondale, it’s worth noting that those areas aren’t Restaurant Week’s biggest participants. That honor goes to the Five Points South neighborhood, which includes the fine dining gem of Highlands and the paper napkin delicacies of Dreamland.
There’s a reason our culinary scene is earns so much press, and Birmingham Restaurant Week is the ultimate reminder.
Birmingham Restaurant Week runs Friday, August 12, through Sunday, August 21. Restaurant menus and event tickets are available on the BRW website.
Third Thursday at Pepper Place is a cocktail party atmosphere with a flat sandal style. It’s exuberantly come-as-you-are, whether that means work pants or white jeans or your favorite cutoff shorts. It’s as scene-ish as you want — or don’t want — it to be, and that’s a special atmosphere indeed. With attractions from beer and corn hole outside the Alabama Outdoors pop-up to art and cocktails at Scene, it’s deliberately and delightfully everyone’s game.
Monthly neighborhood events are a thing in Birmingham now — from Forest Park’s Tour de Loo to the Loft District’s Art Crawl. Each of them designed to highlight what the neighborhood already boasts, with a little extra to feel like an event. The common thread is local businesses supporting art and artisans, along with neighborhood spirit.
So what sets Third Thursday apart? Part of its appeal is the unique layout of the space. There’s the pop-up energy of the 2nd avenue parking lot. Then there’s the indoor/outdoor garden party appeal of Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery and Scene.
It’s also possibly the best night-out deal in town, with unlimited food and drinks available for a suggested donation of $10 (or $5 if you’re only eating), which supports a designated charity each month. If you’re a young professional saving up for a down payment, this is a ridiculously wonderful social option.
While Lakeview is coming to its own as a residential option, it’s still most known as a funny meeting point for folks throughout the city. Third Thursday combines the urban energy of downtown development with the quieter charm of an established neighborhood. It’s also the smaller, calmer, more nighttime version of Pepper Place.
If the Loft District, Avondale, and Highland Park all had a mind meld, it would be Lakeview, and Third Thursday. As far as we’re concerned, that’s reason enough to love it.