The art of Christmas in Birmingham

By on 26/11/2010 in Culture, News

The traditional story of Christmas is at the heart of Birmingham's festivities with the launch of the 10th annual Nativity Trail at the city's Museum and Art Gallery. 

 Open from the 1st of December, the trail of the city's internationally acclaimed art collections, shows visitors how artists have depicted the Nativity over the last 500 years.

Work by Italian masters and famous Pre-Raphaelite artists  are included in the trail.   The Adoration of the Shepherds (1520-40) by Bonifazio de'Pitati', shows the Holy Family against an Italian landscape.   The Star of Bethlehem (1887-1891) by locally born Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones', believed to be the world's largest watercolour, are just two of the extraordinary works on show.

Also Henry Payne's stained glass window from a Methodist Chapel in Cradely Heath, Peace and Goodwill (1922), is a stunning example of local craft and skill and memorial to men of the congregation who died in World War I.

Orazio Gentileschi's (1615-20), tender depiction of The Rest on the Flight to Egypt takes the shows Joseph and Mary as weary refugees nurturing the baby Jesus.     

Complementing the Trail is a Nativity scene in the Frankfurt Market, also celebrating its 10th Anniversary, which has been brought to the city as a gesture of goodwill by the stall holders.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, said: “Family and tradition is at the heart of our Christmas programme and they have proved to be the most successful and enduring elements of Birmingham's Christmas programme of celebrations.   The Nativity Art Trail and Frankfurt Market are both celebrating 10 years of attracting visitors to our city.

“The Nativity Trail shows visitors the story of Christmas through the city's stunning art collections which are some of the finest in Europe.  The theme continues in the Frankfurt market with the Nativity scene kindly brought to our city by the market stallholders.”

“The city's Christmas programme brings families and friends of all ages and backgrounds together.  It attracts visitors to our city and importantly enhances the quality of people's lives.”

“Also in the Museum and Art Gallery is Father Christmas in his grotto offering families an enchanting and festive experience.   These two great events are just a taste of what is happening around Birmingham throughout the Christmas period.”   

Father Christmas will make an appearance adjacent the wonderful surroundings of the Round Room and will be at the Museum every weekend until Christmas, £3 per child, adults free. Children coming to see Santa in his Museum grotto will receive a special gift and be able to have their picture taken.

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter's Christmas Celebration is Free on Saturday
11 December, 10.30am - 4pm and will have period costumed guided tours and the Enchant Choir singing festive carols; special Georgian Christmas Tours of Soho House on 1st, 2nd 8th and 9th December and at Weoley Castle Ruins there is a special Victorian Christmas Magic Lantern Show on 23 December between 2-3pm. Tickets cost £4 (which will include a mince pie and a hot drink). Booking essential on 0121 464 2193.

The Museum events are just a few of the many organised by Birmingham City Council over the Christmas season, which include the famous Frankfurt Christmas Market.  For more information on Christmas events, go to

The open top Birmingham Buz Service is organising a two-hour Christmas Lights ghost tour from 7pm on Friday, 10 December. For details call 0121 303 2323 or via email to


Media contact:
Jason Lewis on 0121 303 4266,

Notes to editor:

Full List of Paintings used for the Nativity Art Trail

  • Gallery 13: How Art Is Made
    Peace and Goodwill, 1922
    by Henry Payne
  • Gallery 14
    The Star of Bethlehem, 1887-1891
    by Edward Burne-Jones
  • Gallery 18
    The Annunciation, about 1858
    by Arthur Hughes
  • The Nativity, 1858
    by Arthur Hughes
  • Gallery 19
    The Nativity, 1924
    by Dorothy Webster Hawksley
  • Gallery 25
    The Angels Appearing to the Shepherds
    by the Master of the Annunciations to the Shepherds, early 1630s
  • The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, 1640-60
    by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
  • Gallery 23
    The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1615-20
    by Orazio Gentileschi

Tags: , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.