Where Elton John meets Albert Square…

Okay, So I am currently up at 2 am in the morning writing this up because guess who decided to get so drunk on a school night? This moron right here. I can now say those two words that most parents dread to hear…ITS CHRISTMAS

Every year Christmas seems to get bigger and bigger and those pockets of yours seem to get emptier and emptier. Birmingham is always coming up with new and exciting Christmas related events to draw those with the spirit of Christmas in so when a mysterious event popped up called “Once Upon A Time In Birmingham” of course, it caught my attention however this is one event that might make you want to stay clear of Christmas this year.

Nested in the old Jamie Italian restaurant lies Once Upon A Time in Birmingham. A festive pop up with 88,000 festive lights, tea parlour, party bar and event space brought to you Bompas & Parr. Walking through the front doors I was greeted with many smiles and gold shredded tinsel. The bar was on the left and a metal chain hanging curtain was straight in front which was the entrance to the light extravaganza. First thoughts, a strange combination of materials but okay, we will go with this.

When entering the main attraction my eyes lit up, 88,000 various hanging Christmas lights and a variety of bizarre Christmas decorations you had in your house from the ’90s. They had a fair share of seating areas, from tables and chairs to booths and even a section that wasn’t lit up at all which seemed to me, very out of place. We were told that later on in the night the seating area by the DJ Booth would go and would turn into a dance floor. It’s different and it’s very extra but we like different here in Birmingham, so lets get into this!

Sitting down in the “vibrating” booth which certainly did not give me good vibrations because we couldn’t feel any vibration at all. We took a look at the menu, a range of festive drinks from eggnog to winter spiced champagne cocktails. Beers and wines were also on the menu. Its order at the bar service and I decided to go for the winter spiced champagne cocktail.

Now, please tell me how I got quite pissed off half a cocktail? Well, I tell you why because they got the alcohol measurement totally wrong. When the bartender came over to take our next drink options, I mentioned it and he said they had 60% whiskey in there and had JUST cut it down as it was way too strong. I should bloody think so, I was hanging on those Christmas decorations like a pissed-up fairy on a Christmas tree. I decided to let them off and I ordered a gin & pomegranate drink which was a lot more drinkable and had the flavours of christmas. We tried a variety of the drinks, all with festive ingredients and they do smell lovely!

Looking around I noticed a couple of issues, the décor on opening night you expect those 88,000 lights to be working, they weren’t all working. It was a bizarre mixture of lights, I had it in my head it was going to be all the same but mixing with the tinsel and the other odd Christmas décor (also the random white Christmas tree that didn’t go at all) it’s like Elton John meets EastEnders in this joint. Now, I am no interior design expert but from my experience of designing and building houses on The Sims… it would have looked a lot more classy with the same lighting throughout and no tinsel crap.  The area that turns into a dance floor is quite concerning because I can just see with the boozy drinks offerings and the cheeky helium balloons they have on the menu, it’s going to be Christmas day mayhem of ripping down those decorations. I feel for the cleaners.

The booze was catching up with me and the scent of cinnamon was irritating my nose so when things get a bit too overpowering for me, I like to sit down and have a cup of tea and that’s exactly what I did, I ordered a cup of tea at Santa’s grotto. There was no escaping these Christmas scents because cinnamon was also in the tea. Taking in the loud scenery we were offered these pretty cool looking glasses to try on to get the full “experience” boy, would you get an experience alright, an experience of someone throwing up over you with these badboys. You can’t see a bloody thing and I even tried to drink my cup of tea wearing them in which I failed to do so and I ended up sipping back a chunk of my jumper.

The only food we got to try was the crystal-clear jelly which we saw on the promotional photo on the website that looked stunning with the lights reflecting of it, so we were really looking forward to this. When it came over our first impressions was…it’s tiny and it stinks of Christmas. Now I know why many places don’t sell clear jelly because soon as I saw it, I was rolling out that scene from Something About Mary in my head. What can I say? It tasted like nothing but that’s jelly anyway, but I was expecting a bit of a Christmas tweak to the pud. They offer a festive afternoon tea but looking at this it seems there are just deserts and tea, you can’t call it an afternoon tea if there are no BUNS HUN?! Where’s the sandwiches?! Let’s be honest when we have afternoon tea we want more savoury than sweets so I don’t know how this is going to work…

Honesty is the best policy and I have to say, I really wanted to love this but it was a little bit of a let down for me. Its amazing when you are full of alchol and I think every one should go and see it, the first words you will say when you see it is “OH WOW” it’s very extra and its very camp. Instagram obsessed girls would love it as there are many photo opportunities to be had and its fantastic for kids, kids will be AMAZED but playtime is over at 6pm. To me, the place looks unfinished and it comes across quite tacky. I couldn’t imagine spending a whole night in a throw-up Christmas without the christmas music? yep, a christmas event without christmas music but there was Chris Brown and Justin Bieber. I would recommend you all to check it out, I think it would be great to take the family for a 1 or 2 hours but its not a place you would keep rushing back to. A good attempt but if tweaked, it could be massively improved however for me, it didnt really capture the spirit of Christmas, it left me completly confused and I spent most of the night thinking I was at a 90s christmas party at my primary school. 



  1. Wow! I’m Christmases biggest fan but it looks like Christmas threw up, ate it and then threw it up again!

    Think if I went here, I’d be desperate to rearrange it!!

    Sounds like somewhere worth visiting though!


  2. Oh Bab!
    I laughed so hard reading this. Elton John meets Eastenders hahahaha.
    My goodness it looks like 20 tons of tinsel exploded in a bulb factory! I like the concept, but cinnamon turns my stomach, so I’d have to swerve this one.


  3. At first, this sounded so magical! And I’m sure it would be fun for just one drink, but it does seem very loud and gaudy! And I have to admit I nearly gagged when you brought up the Something about Mary thing. Your pictures are great though and I enjoyed the post!

    Kenna, Lifeoflilyblog.com xxx


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