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Where's your heart at? Choose your top Midland attraction; TRAVEL What is your favourite cultural experience in the Midlands? You can have your say in this year's tourism "Oscars".

The Birmingham Post has joined forces with the Tourism West Midlands Partnership and Advantage West Midlands to promote the cream of this year's cultural attractions.

This year for the Vrst time, The Birmingham Post will be offering readers the opportunity to vote for their favourite cultural destination as part of The Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Awards 2008. The awards celebrate the best of the region's visitor attractions, with categories for a range of prizes from Small Hotel/Townhouse of the Year to Best Tourism Experience.

The new award for readers - The Culture of the Heart Award - gives people an opportunity to celebrate some of the more esoteric and exotic cultural highlights on offer. From destinations that celebrate the best of the region's heritage, such as the hiding place of Charles II at Staffordshire's Moseley Old Hall or the spectacular ruins at Witley Court, to experiences that bring the cream of international talent to local stages and theatre halls, including the CBSO, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Midlands offers a host of opportunities to entertain, delight and explore.

This year's Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Awards will take place in an Oscarthemed gala ceremony at Birmingham's ICC, with nominations from leading destinations from across the region. The Birmingham Post is this year's media partner for the evening, helping to sponsor the event. For the Midlands' top attractions, the coveted awards are a seal of approval from the leaders of the tourism industry, with previous winners including the Royal Shakespeare Company andWeston Park.

Over the last year, the Midlands' cultural scene has undergone signiVcant changes, with the re-opening of Birmingham Town Hall adding another performance venue to the map, and the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which is undergoing a pounds 100 million redevelopment to establish a world class performance venue.

Perhaps you've enjoyed Birmingham Royal Ballet's celebrated The Nutcracker at the Hippodrome this year, or seen an inspired recital at Birmingham's Conservatoire. There have been numerous events that have helped to put the Midland's cultural scene on the map, including the Malvern Festival with its variety of musical and performance events, and the Hay Festival at Hay on Wye.

With a wealth of ancient and modern English Heritage and National Trust properties across the West Midlands, from Kenilworth Castle to the 19th century back to backs in Birmingham city centre, to the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge, as well as a rich array of world famous art galleries and collections, the region offers a range of unique attractions to educate, inspire and inform.

Readers of The Birmingham Post are invited to vote online for the venue that they feel deserves The Culture of the Heart Award, a dedicated award to celebrate the diverse events that the region's attractions offer. Details will appear in The Birmingham Post over coming weeks, and the voting form is available at Birminghampost.net now. All entrants will be entered into a prize draw, giving them the opportunity to win a trip to one of the region's top cultural destinations.

Tourism is a major part of the region's economy, supporting 115,000 jobs at attractions across theWest Midlands, and generating an income of pounds 6 billion, according to Advantage West Midlands, The Regional Development Agency.

The region attracts 140 million visitors, with a particular upturn in business travellers, who are coming to the West Midlands for the high quality facilities for conferences and events. The West Midlands holds more conferences than any other area outside London.

For your chance to Vnd out more about the range of attractions available across the West Midlands, log on to Tourism West Midlands' website visittheheart.co.uk, which is updated daily with events and special offers from around the region.

The site contains downloadable vouchers for discounts at hundreds of attractions, as well as providing information on what to see, where to eat and where to stay when visiting leading destinations.

Visit Tourism West Midland's guide to the regions' attractions at visittheheart.co.uk, and you can vote for your favourite experience at birminghampost.net

CAPTION(S):

Where's your heart at? Above, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, below, from left, Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire; Hay on Wye Festival; Compton Verney in Warwickshire; or, perhaps the Birmingham Royal Ballet (below)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 2008
Words:716
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