The Arts in Colchester

Artistic Colchester

Colchester’s arts heritage stretches back to the 1st Century AD when the Romans viewed the town as so important that they built two temples and two theatres, religion and art being closely inter-related.

Today, Colchester is a thriving cultural hotspot, growing an independent arts scene in the town centre, while surrounded by countryside which inspired famous English artists.

Berryfield Mosaic, located in Firstsite
The Berryfield Mosaic, on permanent display in Firstsite, dates  from Roman Colchester.

Modern Art & Architecture

Firstsite Art Gallery

Discover modern visual art destination Firstsite located right in the heart of town, hosting a mix of local, national and international art, as well as running a busy schedule of activities and events for all ages.

The Minories Art Galleries just around the corner is a professional contemporary gallery run by the Colchester School of Art, part of the Colchester Institute.

The University of Essex not only holds the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America but is also celebrated as a masterpiece of Brutalist architecture.

An Inspiration for Great Artists

The wider Colchester area is also the home a diversity of art galleries and arts & crafts centres.

You can view the scenes which inspired famous English artists like 19th Century landscape painter John Constable, 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough and 20th Century equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings.

Colchester's outdoors and surrounding area are perfect for walks and bike rides. Delight in discovering this quintessential English countryside at a relaxed pace, taking in scenes and skies so favoured by some of Britain's leading artists.

Sir Alfred Munnings Sculptue, Munnings Art Museum

Theatres & Shows

Mercury statue on Mercury Theatre. Photo: Visit Essex
 

With the Mercury Theatre and the Headgate Theatre in the town centre, the theatrical arts can be found right in the heart of Colchester. 

Alongside the classics, there is a fascinating independent arts scene based around the Colchester Arts Centre, and you can hear all genres of music being performed in pubs, theatres, bars.

 

Theatres in Colchester

Galleries & Exhibitions

The Sentinel Gallery, Wivenhoe

As well as Firstsite and the Minories Galleires in Colchester town centre, the wider Colchester area is home to a fascinating variety of small and large Art Galleries.

Discover the work of artists of all backgrounds in places such as:

Map of Art Galleries

Current Exhibitions

Tue 9 Aug - Sun 2 Oct 2016

01206 577067

 
 
 

Sat 12 Nov - Sun 11 Dec 2016

01206 240326

 
 

Artistic Events

Painting by Miranda Boxall

Coastal Open

Jaywick Martello Tower

Sat 10 Sep - Sun 30 Oct 2016

The unique architecture and stunning coastline of Jaywick inspires artists creating an active arts scene. The seventh Coastal Open gives local artists another chance to display their talents in art and crafts in a unique location.

What's In Store Exhibition

Exhibition: What's In Store?

Hollytrees Museum

Sat 16 Jul - Sun 20 Nov 2016

Delve behind the scenes and explore the museum's stored collections with htis exhibition curated with students from Colchester Institute.

Circus Skills

Flow - open circus skills group

Firstsite

Wed 22 Jun - Wed 28 Sep 2016

Join Y.A.K Artists Chaz Allington-Lodge and Reece Miller at this informal session using ‘flow toys’ for manipulation, dancing, tricks and performance.

Roman River Festival

Roman River Festival

Colchester Town Centre

Fri 16 Sep - Sun 2 Oct 2016

Three weekends packed with energising folk-inspired music and drama.

Martin Parr Exhibition

Work and Leisure by Martin Parr

Firstsite

Sat 2 Jul - Sun 2 Oct 2016

A not to be missed opportunity to enjoy the work of the acclaimed British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector.

TWAS Theatre

As You Like It

St Martins Church

Thu 29 Sep - Sat 1 Oct 2016

TWAS Theatre are commemorating 400 years since The Bard's death, and we proudly present TWAS Theatre's Autumn 2016 tour of William Shakespeare's beloved comedy As You Like It.

The Big Draw

Big Draw at Colchester Museums

Hollytrees Museum

Sat 1 - Mon 31 Oct 2016

Join in the Big Draw event at Colchester Museums. Drawing boards will be available at all three museums so come along and get creative!

The Big Draw

Big Draw at Colchester Museums

Natural History Museum

Sat 1 - Mon 31 Oct 2016

Join in the Big Draw event at Colchester Museums. Drawing boards will be available at all three museums so come along and get creative!

Big Draw

Big Draw at Colchester Museums

Colchester Castle Museum

Sat 1 - Mon 31 Oct 2016

Join in the Big Draw event at Colchester Museums. Drawing boards will be available at all three museums so come along and get creative

Children's World

Children's World

Lower Castle Park

Sat 1 - Sun 2 Oct 2016

A great range of fun rides for children aged 2-10 years.

Colchester Comedy Festival

Colchester Comedy Festival

Colchester Town Centre

Sat 1 - Sun 16 Oct 2016

It’s official… Colchester Comedy Festival will be back for 16 glorious days of laughter in October.

'D I Y Comedy'

D I Y COMEDY

The Waiting Room

Sun 2 Oct 2016

.Thom Barrett and Rob Saunders from Unmistakeable Scent of Leopard are joined by performers & industry insiders to discuss and answer questions on all things comedy.

Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club

Jazz Club - Reg & The Readers

Colchester Arts Centre

Sun 2 Oct 2016

Jazz Club - Reg & The Readers

Roman Circus

Art & Architecture in Roman Colchester

Colchester Roman circus centre

Mon 3 Oct 2016

AGM followed by a talk from Mark Davies; Art & Architecture in Roman Colchester

Southern Tenant Folk Union

Southern Tenant Folk Union

Colchester Arts Centre

Mon 3 Oct 2016

Southern Tenant Folk Union are the Edinburgh based string band that over a series of albums have produced a thought provoking and arresting take on roots & folk music.

Matt Forde - It's my Political Party ....

Matt Forde: It's my Politcal Party

Colchester Arts Centre

Tue 4 Oct 2016

Following the UK's most important referendum until the next one. As seen on Have i Got News For You (BBC) and The Royal Variety Performance 2015 ( ITV )

The Play What I Wrote

The Play What I Wrote

Headgate Theatre

Wed 5 - Sat 8 Oct 2016

At their peak 28 million people tuned in to watch the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. This show pays homage to one of the best loved double acts of all time. The Play What I Wrote was written by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley.

Wivenhoe Funny Farm -Colchester Comedy Festival

Wivenhoe Funny Farm

Headgate Theatre

Thu 6 Oct 2016

Stand up comedy featuring the world's oldest Jewish comedian Sol Bernstein with Abi Roberts and support.

Paycocke's from the garden

Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Paycocke's House & Gardens

Fri 7 - Sun 9 Oct 2016

Old Macdonald and the Three Little Pigs

Old Macdonald and the Three Little Pigs

Colchester Arts Centre

Sat 8 Oct 2016

Kids comedy theatre and workshop. Join Booster Cushion Theatre for a fun workshop about mime and slapstick comedy followed by a show,

Kingfisher Ensemble

Kingfisher Ensemble

Lion Walk Church

Sun 9 Oct 2016

Kingfisher Ensemble presents Music for a Sunday Afternoon Beth Spendlove: Violin Yan Yi Li Violin Paul Davis Viola Susanna Davis Cello Bridge - Three Idylls Kodaly - Duo for Violin and Cello Borodin - String Quartet No 2 in D

Rich Hall

Rich Hall

Mercury Theatre

Sun 9 Oct 2016

'Now is the time to grab this chance to see the great man at work.' The Guardian.

Colchester Comedy Festival

Shappi Khorsandi - Oh My Country

Colchester Arts Centre

Sun 9 Oct 2016

'She has plenty to say, and says it with pointedness and potency'. The Guardian. (Age 16+)

Comedy Festival

Blazing Saddles - Film

Firstsite

Mon 10 Oct 2016

Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles Film Selected by Hazel Humphreys