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23 People, Places and Things to Watch in Birmingham in 2023

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After 21 years and more than 200,000 runners, the final Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend will be February 10-12.  
The Birmingham Times Staff

 Birmingham has a number of tourist attractions, institutions, stories and people to share with the world.  Some are annual events, some longstanding institutions and some dedicated for the year. 

 Here are just a few to know if you are in Birmingham regardless of where you are from. The world has seen some of what Birmingham and Alabama is about, but there is so much more.  Here are 23 for 2023: 

1, 60th Anniversary Commemoration

A yearlong series of activities in the City of Birmingham to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights movement. The theme of the commemoration is “Forging Justice”, which is rooted in the city’s industrial and cultural history. The events will be held in partnership with numerous entities in Birmingham. Some of those include Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where many of the mass rallies were held in the pivotal 1963 year, as well as Red Mountain Theatre and Make It Happen Theatre Company.

2, Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend

The final Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend is February 10-12.  After 21 years, more than 200,000 runners and $5 million raised for local charities and over $60 million in direct economic impact for the Greater Birmingham region, the marathon comes to an end. Although the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend of Events remains Alabama’s premier running event and boasts the country’s largest Kids Marathon, increases in event production costs and a decline in financial and other resource support have led Birmingham Marathon, Inc. to consider new events and avenues to support local beneficiaries.

3, Gallery5

Gallery5 is an event space opened by millennial co-owners Giani Martin and Dezmon Stovall at 2023 4th Ave N Birmingham, AL 35203 in a building that makes up 3,800 square feet including 20-foot ceilings, front-facing panoramic windows, and a lofty mezzanine with accent furniture and dimmable lights. It is location for weddings ceremonies and receptions, corporate seminars, birthday parties, intimate gatherings right in the heart of the industrial downtown Birmingham. Besides renting the venue the millennial co-owners host Sunday Series, a day party curated for the Who’s Who of the Magic City. For more on Gallery5 contact@gallery5bhm.com, 2023 4th Ave N. Birmingham, AL 35203 (205) 276-0318

4, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)

The Institute recently held its 30th anniversary celebration and is still a place with the state’s special exhibit, archival acquisitions and exquisite programs dedicated to the city’s Civil Rights history.  The BCRI remains one of the area’s premiere attractions with initiatives like the Legacy Youth Leadership Program, which exemplifies the organization’s focus on action by providing instruction to high school students about Civil Rights history and how to engage in what are often considered “difficult” conversations about history. Location: 1510 5th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 328-9696

5, Magic City Classic 

The Magic City Classic is the largest historically Black college and university (HBCU) football game in the country. Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University have renewed this Classic through 2027 at Legion Field in Birmingham. Festivities surrounding the game include the Classic Kickoff, Magic City Classic Parade, Tailgate Party and the famed halftime show performed by the Mighty Marching Hornets and the Marching Maroon and White. 

6, Daniel Grier

Founder of Luxury Streetwear brand, Splashed by DKG Grier was tapped in December to compete nationally on Fuse’s Reimagined Design Competition Series “Upcycle Nation” featuring Emmy Award Winner Karrueche Tran.  He launched Splashed by DKG in 2013 and the brand has been featured in over 50 fashion shows, five fashion weeks, a number of blogs and magazines. Grier is also founder of Magic City Fashion Week.

7, NCAA Men’s Basketball

Birmingham will host the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament for Division I men’s basketball in March. The NCAA’s announcement marks the first time for the NCAA Tournament in Birmingham since 2008 for men’s basketball. “It’s our pleasure to welcome these great NCAA events back to Birmingham,” John Oros, Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, said. “…we do know that historically these events generate millions of dollars for the local economy. In addition to direct economic impact, we will have the added benefit for the newly renovated Legacy Arena through TV exposure.”

8, Alex Flachsbart

Flachsbart, originally from California, but now a Birmingham resident and founder of Opportunity Alabama (OPAL), a nonprofit which seeks to improve many cities and towns throughout the state but has been responsible for many of the largest current and future developments in the city. OPAL has been an important contributor to numerous projects, including the redevelopment of the long-blighted American Life building, which now is home to 137 “workforce housing” units. OPAL is also a significant investor on The Hardwick, a redevelopment project for a 111-year-old steel plant in Birmingham which began earlier this year.

9, Opera Birmingham

The only professional opera company in the Northern and Central Alabama, produces world-class operatic productions and concerts. For over 65 years, Opera Birmingham has been entertaining audiences through world-class operatic productions and concerts bringing hundreds of the best operatic performers to perform in Birmingham. It produces two fully staged operas each season and present concert recitals, which feature some of the world’s greatest singers. Location: Hill Opera Center, 3601 6th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222. Phone: (205) 322-6737.

10, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

 The beautiful gardens have several major events throughout the year with herbs, Japanese and plenty more to see all the time…anytime that you go, there is something new for those interested in field trips, etc. Location: 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223. Phone: (205) 414-3950

11, Sidewalk Film Festival

 The Sidewalk Film Festival is August 21-27 in the downtown Birmingham’s Historic Theatre District Theatre District.  Not only is there the international renowned film festival, but there are also special events such as Midnight Madness, Bad Movie Night, movies every Thursday through Sunday with Happy Hours from 2-5 p.m. Location: 1821 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 324-0888.

12, Birmingham Museum of Art

The BMA has the most extensive collections of artwork in the southeastern United States, with more than 24, 000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts representing numerous Cycultures, including Asian, European, American, African (a collection of nearly 2,000 objects representing the major culture groups of sub-Saharan Africa and dates from the 12th century to the present), Pre-Columbian, and Native American. There is an outdoor sculpture garden, gift shop and rooms for workshops, special events and more. Location: 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 254-2565.

13, Vulcan Park and Museum

 Vulcan is the world’s largest cast iron statue; made of 100,000 pounds of iron and 56 feet tall, he stands at the top of Red Mountain overlooking the city of Birmingham. But Vulcan is more than just a statue—the park and museum features spectacular views of Birmingham, an interactive comprehensive history museum that examines Vulcan and Birmingham’s story, a premier venue for private events and a beautiful public park for visitors and locals to enjoy. Location: 1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham, AL 35209. Phone: (205) 933-1409

14, Theatres 

Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts hosts many live events, as well as films. Each year the Theatre hosts over 150 events attended by 150,000 Birmingham area citizens. Since 1927 the Theatre has been home to shows and performances: movies, concerts, beauty pageants, silent films and even the Mickey Mouse Club.  

In 2019, a newly refurbished Alabama Theatre sign on Third Avenue North made its debut followed by replacement of the marquee, returning the ornate design of 1927 and improving on the original with use of LED bulbs and other 21st century technology. Location: 1817 Third Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203 Phone: 205-252-2262.

15, Local Theatres

The recently renovated Carver Theatre – Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame had a hot re-opening last year with screenings for Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival and later a premiere of “Shuttlesworth,” a documentary about the city’s Civil Rights hero. The art-deco building, a prominent feature of the Fourth Ave. Civil Rights District, houses the Birmingham Black Radio Museum and will soon further enliven the downtown district with more performances and events in its 527-seat space. 1701B 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

Encore Theatre and Gallery is a non-equity performance space. Encore brings year-round contemporary, inventive, and distinctive works to Birmingham, Alabama, while showcasing the phenomenal abilities of minority performers within the region. The facility houses workshops, classes, seminars and productions. Location: 213 Gadsden Hwy Suite 108 Birmingham, AL 35235 (205) 202-4008

If you’re looking for a theatre with an intimate setting that offers a range of performing arts, The Lyric Fine Arts Theatre is ideal. The century old venue is centered in the heart of downtown Birmingham is primarily a performing arts theatre that offers their audience performances such as the symphony, ballet, opera and theatre. In addition, the theater hosts live music and dance shows. Location: 1800 Third Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203

16, Alabama Symphony.

If you’re a fan of classical music, or symphony performance you should check out the Alabama Symphony. During the performances you can listen and watch extraordinarily talented ASO musicians play live music in unison. Location 1200 10th Avenue South (on the UAB Campus) Birmingham, AL 35205

17, Jap Jones

The 43-year-old is a former gang member who was incarcerated at the age of 14 until he was 18 years old. Since being released from prison he has turned his life around and is giving back to the community. Jones is the founder of The Opportunity Center in the Ensley area. He has partnered with some friends and various non-profits with high hopes of grasping younger children, who have not turned to violence, and troubled juveniles. At The Opportunity Center, children get to participate in sports, arts and craft, and health and wellness activities. In addition, children are paired with a mentor as well as learn about financial literacy and entrepreneurship. 

18, Alabama Holocaust Education Center

Established in 2002, the AHEC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education throughout the state of Alabama. The work of the AHEC is inspired by Alabama’s Holocaust survivors, whose presence makes the community mindful of the injustices in their past. Location: 2100 Highland Ave Suite 101, Birmingham, AL 35205. Phone: (205) 795-4176

19, Women Under Construction Network 

Women Under Construction Network (WUCN), a Birmingham-based nonprofit, dedicated to women and their children from underserved communities, hosts several motivational and social events throughout the year to support and empower women to maintain their homes. In addition, the program provides basic home repairs services, appliances, furnishings, groceries, and utility payments to qualified recipients. Location: 429 Green Springs Hwy. Suite 161-244 Birmingham, AL 35209 (205) 578-8929 wucn1265@gmail.com

 20, YPBirmingham

YPBirmingham is a non-profit organization that encourages young professionals to get out and get social whether you’re new to the city or a long time local. The organization is known for its networking events, community outreach involvement and social interactions.  The benefit of joining this organization is that all members will have endless opportunities in the city of Birmingham as well as attend professional baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey games for free or at discounted prices. In addition, members get discounts at some local retail stores, restaurants and rental car providers. For more visit YPBirmingham.com

21, Burgin Matthews

Matthews, Birmingham Mountain Radio host, author and southern music historian, has been a champion of Birmingham’s musical pedigree for years. To end 2022, Matthews announced his new non-profit the Southern Music Research Center (SMRC), through which he intends to document, preserve and show off both the diversity of old and new music across the region. Near the start of 2023, SMRC digital archives will become available to the public.

22, South Titusville neighborhood

The neighborhood, just west of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has long been an area showing neglect in Birmingham, however, through the work of groups like the Titusville Development Corporation and Navigate Affordable Housing, new and refreshed affordable housing is rapidly coming to the community. Additionally, the neighborhood has its own stop on the new Birmingham bus rapid transit line, a new coffee shop, a recent program from UAB to increase quality of life in the neighborhood and a plethora of opportunity for redevelopment. 

23, Greater Birmingham Ministries

Founded in 1969, Greater Birmingham Ministries is one of many community nonprofits throughout the city that provides direct aid to residents through food and financial assistance and community offerings. The organization’s work in community building and political engagement is tireless and even last year included a lawsuit against the Alabama Attorney General for access to purged voter rolls. Location2304 12th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35234. Phone: (205) 326-6821

Some More to Watch 

McWane Center

The McWane Science Center is the perfect place for a child or children who are interested in learning about science through hands on experience. Children can explore four floors of interactive exhibits celebrate science while interacting with other energetic and like-minded children. 200 19th Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203

Steven Mark Finley Jr.

Steven Mark Finley Jr., 26, a native of Birmingham, is also known as “Stevo Blaque,” a visual artist and friend to many, who over the last year has become one of the most prominent and prolific deejays, often performing multiple nights a week at college, cocktail and dive bars across the city.

Space One Eleven

This facility celebrates art making, innovation, education and exploration. There is also live music and performances and children participate in art activities-including taking a spin at the pottery wheels, a public printmaking activity. Location: 2409 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 328-0553

 Birmingham Stallions

The defending United States Football League champions will be back in Spring of 2023 to kick off their title defense on Saturday, April 15 at Protective Stadium. The USFL is the first major professional spring football league in nearly 40 years to complete a successful inaugural season and return for a second season. The league plans to expand in additional markets in 2023.

 Ferrill African Wear

African clothing is displayed at Ferrill African Wear in the downtown Birmingham Fourth Avenue Historic District. Shirley Ferrill’s goal is to sell African wear and to profit, but also educate people about other cultures, to provide opportunities to have conversations about race and Black history. Location320 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203. Phone: (205) 529-1182

Brenda Brown’s Bosom Buddies

 This 501 (c) (3) provides information on breast cancer that speaks to women of color.  The non-profit was founded on one woman’s passion and pursuit to conquer a disease and inspire a culture of women to do the same-to educate, facilitate and install programs and activities that will empower women and men of color. Location: 1001 6th St, Birmingham, AL 35214. Phone: (205) 798-6215

Lamar Benefield

The 27-year-old is known for planning and organizing events in the city of Birmingham. He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary that co-founded Brothers and Sisters Inquiring Change (BASIC), a charitable organization that helps homeless people. Through the organization he has hosted job fairs in underserved communities in Birmingham as well as college fairs for high school students. 

If you think someone, something or someplace should be on The Birmingham Times 2023 Watch List please send email to bwright@birminghamtimes.com and include “2023 Watch List” in the subject line.