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Once Upon a Time in Birmingham to light up Bullring & Grand Central


  • Installation to feature 88,000 fairy lights, more than 9km in length, enough to reach the top of Everest
  • More festive lights per square foot than any site in Britain
  • Tea parlour to serve the world’s first crystal clear Christmas puddings

Visitors to Birmingham will soon be able to journey to the centre of the fairy light with Once Upon A Time In Birmingham, Bompas & Parr’s festive tea parlour and party bar, which is opening in Hammerson’s flagship destination Bullring & Grand Central on 14th November 2019.

The Christmas installation features 88,000 fairy lights, over 9km of illumination, as well as a host of mirrors in a grand, sparkling interior. The merry and bright installation will not only be illuminating, but also delicious with a menu designed to glow and sparkle.

What is it like to be inside a fairy light?

After venturing down a pulsating electric cable, guests will emerge into a tea parlour and cocktail bar, tricked out like the imagined interior of a fairy light. This immersive space will feature:

  • LED-eyed portraits of the heroes of electricity: Faraday, Volta, Hertz, Ampère, Ohm, Franklin, Swan and others
  • Views of St Martin in the Bullring, a neo-gothic church seen through jewel-like iridescent dichroric film
  • iLOOminated bathrooms – even the toilets will glow.
  • Carol-oke and sporadic Christmas games hosted by Mr Sprinkles and Glowstick

Light desserts

Once Upon a Time in Birmingham will serve drinks that glow, sparkle, and change colour,  allowing guests to experience the tastes and smells of Christmas in the most brilliant way. In a world first, it will also offer crystal clear Christmas puddings that refract light like a prism, a magical twist on a festive staple.

Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr said: “We are aiming to turn Once Upon a Time in Birmingham into one of the most festive places on the planet, an ode to the fairy light. The only thing I’m worried about is all the lights getting in a tangle – with over 9km of strings it’ll be a real challenge to unravel! Come revel with us this winter and lighten your spirits!

Stephanie Lacey, General Manager at Bullring & Grand Central, said: Once Upon a Time in Birmingham will be a truly immersive experience that is not to be missed. At Bullring & Grand Central, we’ve got a great track record of putting on events that amaze and delight, and this will be no different. Birmingham has never seen anything like this before.”

 Are these lights real, or are they a filament of my imagination?

The installation is another extravaganza from leading experience designers, Bompas & Parr, who were responsible for:

  • A Flavour Firework show in London where a quarter of a million people tasted fireworks as they exploded in the sky
  • Cooking with lava – 1.1bn year old igneous rock heated to 1350 degrees Centigrade
    • Used to bake one of the world’s biggest cakes – measured at over 13 meters by 10 meters.
  • Creating the world’s only bar, Alcoholic Architecture, which served a breathable cloud of G&T

Bompas & Parr’s studio team is comprised of chefs, mixologists, architects, art directors, specialist technicians and as well as a wormery to help compost recyclables. They collectively have been working on the project for six months and are proud to bring this world first to Birmingham.