Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Key to the City

The exciting Key to the City project will allow key holders to explore private and intriguing places across Birmingham and Solihull, discovering spaces that they might not have happened upon before.

Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Key to the City Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Key to the City. Credit: Lensi Photography

Part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, Key to the City has been developed by internationally-acclaimed artist Paul Ramírez Jonas and is brought to the UK for the very first time by Birmingham based arts organisation Fierce. Proudly sponsored by Yale, it is taking place between 28 May and 7 August 2022.

We are thrilled to have secured a secret site are part of this unique event. But that's all we can say about that, for now... 

What is Key to the City?

For six weeks across the summer of 2022, you can award someone you know the Key to the City.

Key holders will then have the privilege of exploring a range of unique and unusual places across the West Midlands, offering new perspectives of Birmingham and Solihull.

From private gardens to underground tunnels, a locked museum drawer to a panoramic skyline view, opportunities to discover a secret menu as well as to witness daily worship, the Key to the City sites will bring a new perspective to the city.

What's behind the door at Minworth Green Bridge? What's behind the door at Minworth Green Bridge?

When and how can I award a Key to the City?

The location of the Key Exchange Ceremony site will be near the departures board in Birmingham New Street Station. You can visit between 11am - 7pm every day from 28 May - 5 June inclusive and 11am - 7pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays thereafter.

There is no need to register in advance, just turn up on the day. Arrive in pairs, or solo to be partnered up to collect your keys. All locations are accessed using this single key. Oh, and it's totally free!

Where does this concept come from?

The Key to the City is traditionally given by a City Council or Mayor to a hero or dignitary, symbolising that they have the freedom of the city.

But in this project the Key to the City belongs to all of us - not just the chosen few - and we can award it among ourselves for any reason we choose.

“What if everyone, not just the chosen few, could be recognised with the Key to the City of Birmingham? What if anyone could decide who is deserving of the Freedom of the City? What if this key could open dozens of previously unexplored spaces around the city? And what if all those spaces together created a portrait of Birmingham?”

- Paul Ramírez Jonas

Key to the City sponsor logos

Last date edited: 27 May 2022