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

Allocated Orange

Sat 10 - Sun 11 Dec 2016

01732 843858

 
 
 

Wed 2 Nov 2016 - Tue 10 Jan 2017

01206 245504

 
 

Artistic Events

Allocated Orange

Allocated Orange

Church of St Martin

Sat 10 - Sun 11 Dec 2016

Group Show and Christmas Event presented by 3rd year Colchester School of Art Students fundraising towards graduate show 2017 - art for sale, raffle and prizes

Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington

Mercury Theatre

Sat 26 Nov 2016 - Sun 8 Jan 2017

A MAGICAL PANTO ADVENTURE! Panto legends Dale Superville (Aunt Sponge, James and the Giant Peach, Wishee Washee, Aladdin) and Antony Stuart-Hicks (Widow Twanky, Aladdin) are back to tell the story of Dick Whittington.

The Amzing Addrian

Edwardian Entertainment at Christmas

Colchester Arts Centre

Sat 10 Dec 2016

Professor Addrian’s entertainments are from a bygone age of elegance. Watch Madam Fifi the flea leap into a pool of water, next see the kaleidoscopic effects produced by the magic lantern. Learn of the Jabberwocky.

Father Christmas' Grotto

Father Christmas' Grotto

Fenwick department store

Sat 26 Nov - Sat 24 Dec 2016

Visit Father Christmas in his grotto in Children’s World on the lower ground floor every weekend from Saturday 26 November until Christmas Eve.

Brightlingsea Late Night Shopping

Festival Gala Concert

Brightlingsea

Sat 10 Dec 2016

Brightlingsea Festival Gala Concert

Oh America

Gee Vaucher - An Introspective

Firstsite

Sat 12 Nov 2016 - Sun 19 Feb 2017

Firstsite will be home to the first ever full Gee Vaucher exhibition.

Art Exchange

James Cauty's ADP Riot Tour

Art Exchange

Mon 5 - Mon 12 Dec 2016

ADP is James Cauty's 40ft shipping container housing a vast post-apocalyptic landscape in miniature populated only by the police and media crews.

Chappel

Katherine Hamilton - Landscape Journeys

Chappel Galleries

Sat 12 Nov - Sun 11 Dec 2016

Chappel Galleries is showing works by Katherine Hamilton from 12 November – 11 December 2016 Exhibition Hours – Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

Blue Tits by Carl Borges

Landscape Impressed – prints by 12PM

Boat House Gallery

Sat 5 Nov 2016 - Sun 26 Feb 2017

12PM can’t promise you a Constable-like view of the Stour Valley, but they will be exhibiting an original view of nature, with trees and water as a dominant theme.

Visit Santa!

Meet Santa at his Colchester Castle Grotto!

Colchester Castle Museum

Fri 9 - Sun 11 Dec 2016

Colchester Museums are offering a unique opportunity this festive season. Families will be able to meet Santa, in the historic setting of Colchester Castle.

art gallery

Movement of the People [pt3]

Art Exchange

Thu 1 - Sat 10 Dec 2016

A chance to reflect on the UK, a seafaring island’s attitude to migration through Sarah Wood’s remarkable film, Boat People, which turns to history to investigate our ongoing relationship to those who make it to our shores.

Santa's Post Box, Red Lion Yard

Santa's Post Office

Lion Walk Shopping Centre

Sun 20 Nov - Sun 18 Dec 2016

Visit Santa's Post Office in Red Lion Yard and write a letter to the big man himself! Make sure you include your address so Santa can reply to you. PLUS Meet Santa's cheeky elves.

Allocated Orange

Allocated Orange

Church of St Martin

Mon 12 Dec 2016

Group Show and Christmas Event presented by 3rd year Colchester School of Art Students fundraising towards graduate show 2017 - art for sale, raffle and prizes

Visit Santa!

Meet Santa at his Colchester Castle Grotto!

Colchester Castle Museum

Fri 16 - Fri 23 Dec 2016

Colchester Museums are offering a unique opportunity this festive season. Families will be able to meet Santa, in the historic setting of Colchester Castle.

Folk Club

Folk Club Christmas Party and Barn Dance

Colchester Arts Centre

Mon 19 Dec 2016

The one-off Bass Instincts reunion last year was such fun we’re doing it again (this could run and run!) The folk club annual knees-up with a top band, a caller to help you through the moves and interval mince pies. Happy Christmas!

Theatre Of Widdershins

Theatre Of Widdershins presents Rapunzel

Colchester Arts Centre

Mon 19 - Sat 24 Dec 2016

Theatre of Widdershins have taken this traditional tale right back to its roots, teased out the tangles and styled it into a beautifully coiffured hair piece! This enchanting show promises plenty of body, volume and loads of highlights.

Charter Hall Bounce

Winter Bounce

Charter Hall

Thu 22 - Fri 23 Dec 2016

Charter Hall will be hosting its first indoor inflatable fun event. With bouncy castles, slides and much more! In addition to this fun session you can also book a time to visit Santa for £7 which includes a meet and greet and a present.

Theatre Of Widdershins

Theatre Of Widdershins presents Rapunzel

Colchester Arts Centre

Tue 27 - Sat 31 Dec 2016

Theatre of Widdershins have taken this traditional tale right back to its roots, teased out the tangles and styled it into a beautifully coiffured hair piece! This enchanting show promises plenty of body, volume and loads of highlights.

Theatre Of Widdershins

Theatre Of Widdershins presents Rapunzel

Colchester Arts Centre

Mon 2 - Tue 3 Jan 2017

Theatre of Widdershins have taken this traditional tale right back to its roots, teased out the tangles and styled it into a beautifully coiffured hair piece! This enchanting show promises plenty of body, volume and loads of highlights.

Clare Hammond

Clare Hammond, piano

Constable Hall

Sun 22 Jan 2017

Acclaimed as a pianist of “amazing power and panache” (The Telegraph), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances and has developed a “reputation for brilliantly imaginative concert programmes” (BBC Mus

Orpheus and Eurydice

Lecture: Orpheus and Eurydice in art and music

Constable Hall

Fri 10 Feb 2017

Dr Lois Oliver is an art historian and works as a curator, broadcaster and an experienced lecturer. She will talk about this intriguing story of how the legendary singer lost his lover through a single glance .

Roman Circus

Mud and Monuments

Colchester Roman circus centre

Mon 13 Feb 2017

Mud and Monuments; The Archaeology of the Essex Coast a talk by Ellen Heppell, Senior Archaeologist, Archaeology South-East (UCL)