Our Story

The Open is the oldest brass band contest in the world, with the best British bands and, by invitation, the winners of the European Brass Band Championships from the year preceding the contest competing for the coveted British Open title. The history of the contest dates back to 1853 when it was first held at the iconic Belle Vue Manchester until 1980.

The Open is also the qualifying contest for British bands to the European Brass Band Championships. In recent years the event has enjoyed remarkable success with sell out audiences from throughout Britain and Europe as well as visitors from Australia and the US.

With a capacity of over 2,200 our present venue at Symphony Hall Birmingham is regarded as one of the finest auditorium in Europe with unrivalled acoustic and state of the art facilities for the audience and bands to enjoy, and this year we celebrate 25 years at Symphony Hall.

The contest has maintained its history with the current contest organisers, Karyn and Martin Mortimer following the heritage of the Mortimer family’s involvement as players conductors and organisers spanning a total of 112 years.