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What to expect

Birmingham Design Festival is a festival like no other, so we thought it’d be handy to compile a list of things that it’s good to know in preparation for your time with us.

Your tickets

Booking tickets
If you’ve not already got your tickets to BDF 2019 then what are you waiting for? Get over to the events page and get some in your basket. Whilst most events at BDF are free, nearly every event is ticketed – so make sure you’re booked to that thing you want to see or you’re going to miss out.

Returning tickets
Did you book something by accident or did something else catch your eye? You can return your tickets by dropping us an email and let us know what you need to get rid of and we’ll put it back on sale. If you’re booking on a different event instead make sure you book that beforehand and you’re all set.

If the event is a paid and you need a refund you can apply for this up until a week (7 days) before the festival. If you find out you can’t make it in the week building up to the festival still let us know, as we can release that ticket to someone else.

Print at home tickets
All of our tickets are ‘print at home’. That doesn’t mean you actually need to print them, they’re fine on your phone. When entering an event to keep things nice and speedy please have your ticket ready to be scanned, that means the QR code nice and big on screen. We’ve got a quick turnaround time between events and getting people through the door quickly is really important.

Attending an event

Daytime talks
Just about all of our talks are scheduled to be on the hour every hour, with a couple of breaks in between. Because there’s up to a 20-minute walk between venues, we’ve added some travel time in between the end of one talk slot and the start of another. Every talk will be timed strictly to 30-minutes, with 10 minutes optional Q&A at the end. You can choose to stick around or make your way to the next venue.

Our workshops operate on a slightly different timescale, so make sure you check the duration and that it doesn’t clash with any talks you want to attend. If there are requirements for the workshop, like bring a laptop or drawing tools, make sure you do!

Evening events
Get watered and fed after our 4pm events finish and come and join us for an evening of back-to-back talks centred around a theme. These are our showpiece events in bigger venues and last for 3 hours, with a 20-minute halfway through. After the event, there’ll be an after party where you can get to know other attendees and enjoy the company of fellow designers.

Attention: We over-sell our free events
Because free events tend to have a very high drop off rate (as proven by last year’s festival), we over-sell our free events by a third. This means that we can make sure every talk is as full as possible and people aren’t missing out on tickets thanks to someone who booked and decided not to show up. This also means that there is potential for an overly full venue, so if a talk is sold out make sure you arrive there in good time to ensure you grab a seat. Scootch up close and leave no seat spare.

Staff & volunteers

Everyone at BDF is a volunteer. From the staff who work in their spare time to put the festival on to the volunteers who you will see running around tending to your every question throughout the 3 days. Everyone is going to be working their hardest to make sure you have a good time, so please let us know if you have any issues.

We’re running a festival for a second time, so we’re still learning, but we think you’ll really enjoy the experience. Also please be nice.

Getting around

The festival is located almost entirely in Digbeth, as a result, it’s really easy to walk around the venues. If you need to head further afield more often than not it’s better to walk. The one-way system from Digbeth to the city centre means Uber prices can rack up, so check both routes before you decide what to do.

If you’re travelling from the festival hotel (Bloc) it probably is quickest to get an Uber, especially if you’re heading to the Digital or Product hubs.

Check out our venues page for a map and guide to each of the major BDF venues

Eating, sleeping and drinking

We’ve got some lovely partners on board who can help you do these things at a much-reduced rate and we would love it if you utilised them.

BLOC hotels are offering 15% off of rooms using voucher code BDF15 for the duration of the festival. Their rooms are very lovely and in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, you’ll love them.

Our catering partner Bitters & Twisted own the very excellent Bodega Cantina and Buffalo and Rye. There will be special offers for BDF ticket holders announced closer to the festival.

There’s also this excellent list of things to do and see in Birmingham that we’ve compiled.

Getting along

Because this is a festival you will be mixing with hundreds of other people who are your colleagues and contemporaries, please be respectful of everyone working and enjoying the festival. This goes for speakers, staff and attendees.

Stay safe in Birmingham, it’s a lovely city that like any major metro area has its share of issues. Keep an eye out for BDF staff and volunteers if you need any help.

Getting in touch

You can absolutely get in touch with us if you have any queries. Contact and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Bear with us if we’re slow to respond, we’re putting on a festival!

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