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

Artistic Events

Blue Tits by Carl Borges

Landscape Impressed – prints by 12PM

Boat House Gallery

Sat 5 Nov 2016 - Sun 26 Feb 2017

The Boat House Gallery at Flatford Mill exhibits work by local printmakers

Simon Carter Creek Cottages

Simon Carter: Approaching the Remote

The Minories Galleries

Mon 20 Feb - Sat 8 Apr 2017

Colchester Art Society president Simon Carter's latest exhibition, at the Minories.

Bang Bang

Bang Bang

Mercury Theatre

Fri 24 Feb - Sat 11 Mar 2017

John Cleese collaborates with the Mercury Theatre to bring this rarely performed comedy classic to the stage.

RICHARD BILLINGHAM: ORDER OUT OF CHAOS

Richard Billingham - Order Out of Chaos

Art Exchange

Fri 24 Feb - Sat 25 Mar 2017

Direct pictures of family life, on display at the University of Essex's Art Exchange.

Grumbling Fur

Grumbling Fur

Colchester Arts Centre

Sat 25 Feb 2017

Psychedelic Electronic Pop at Colchester Arts Centre, with local support acts

Roman Colchester: Peter Froste

Colchester's giant Roman monumental arcade

Colchester Roman circus centre

Mon 27 Feb 2017

Lecture at Colchester Roman Circus Centre

Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick

Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick

Colchester Arts Centre

Mon 27 Feb 2017

Traditional Folk at Colchester Arts Centre

Richard Herring

Richard Herring: The Best

Colchester Arts Centre

Sat 4 Mar 2017

A Comedic Greatest Hits at Colchester Arts Centre

Colne Estuary- Bob Bartlett

‘A Working Life 1939-2014’ by Bob Bartlett

Chappel Galleries

Sat 11 Mar - Sun 2 Apr 2017

Art exhibition in a variety of mediums at Chappel Galleries.

Hollytrees House

British Science Week: Still & Moving Images

Hollytrees Museum

Sat 11 Mar 2017

A day of free activities celebrating British Science Week, in Hollytrees Museum

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale

Mercury Theatre

Tue 14 - Sat 18 Mar 2017

One of Shakespeare's greatest plays, on stage at the Mercury Theatre

Mini Book Festival

Essex Book Festival: Mini Book Festival

University of Essex: Colchester Campus

Sat 18 - Sun 19 Mar 2017

Children's Literature Event at Essex University, as part of Essex Book Festival

Space

Space + Warm Winters + Surge

Colchester Arts Centre

Thu 30 Mar 2017

Britpop heroes plus local support at Colchester Arts Centre

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Mercury Theatre

Wed 5 - Fri 7 Apr 2017

A musical play adapted and directed by David Wood based on the book by Judith Kerr. On stage at the Mercury Theatre

Hollytrees House

Grand Designs

Hollytrees Museum

Thu 6 Apr 2017

Create your own Doll's House room at Hollytrees Museum

Hollytrees House

Magnificent Millinery

Hollytrees Museum

Thu 6 Apr 2017

Hat Making for children at Hollytrees Museum

NT Live: Twelfth Night (Live Screening)

NT Live: Twelfth Night (Live Screening)

Lakeside Theatre

Thu 6 Apr 2017

The Lakeside Theatre Screens the National Theatre's production of Twelfth Night

Zoe Lyons

Zoe Lyons: Little Misfit

Colchester Arts Centre

Thu 20 Apr 2017

Comedy at Colchester Arts Centre.

Spamalot

Spamalot

Mercury Theatre

Fri 21 Apr - Sat 13 May 2017

The riotous Monty Python Musical, on stage at the Mercury Theatre

RSC Live: Antony & Cleopatra (Live Screening)

RSC Live: Antony & Cleopatra (Live Screening)

Lakeside Theatre

Wed 26 Apr 2017

The Lakeside Theatre Screens the RSC's production of Antony & Cleopatra

RSC Live: Julius Caesar (Live Screening)

RSC Live: Julius Caesar (Live Screening)

Lakeside Theatre

Wed 26 Apr 2017

The Lakeside Theatre Screens the RSC's production of Julius Caesar

The Events

The Events

Mercury Theatre

Fri 2 - Sat 17 Jun 2017

Edgy and incendiary drama in the Mercury Theatre Studio

Olly Murs

Olly Murs Summer Tour 2017

Weston Homes Community Stadium

Sat 10 Jun 2017

Event Description Following on from his spring arena tour, Olly Murs, one of British music’s biggest stars, announces his biggest headline shows yet; 22 outdoor dates across the UK, starting on Friday 02 June through to Saturday 19 August