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.
Theatre and Shows
A Theatre Loving Town
There's no shortage of Theatres in Colchester with three dedicated venues and several other locations that programme plays as part of a varied programme.
The Mercury Theatre leads the way as the town's primary producing theatre, putting on a varied calendar of productions all year round including the consistently popular pantomime every Christmas. It also hosts a strong selection of touring productions and one-night shows.
The Headgate Theatre is the home of amateur theatre in Colchester, and supports a thriving theatrical community in the town, regularly selling out it's 87 person capacity auditorium.
The Lakeside Theatre serves the University Campus with a variety of small touring productions, film screenings, and shows produced and programmed by the students, often reflecting the intrests of the diverse population on campus.
Colchester Arts Centre hosts an incredible variety of entertainment and events with Theatre productions making up a significant part of the programme and sitting comfortable alongside a programme of music, comedy, live art, and more besides.
Be sure to keep your eyes open when visiting however, as particularly during the summer months you can find pop-up productions in a variety of gardens, churches, and unusued spaces around the town centre.
Performances coming up...
Galleries & Exhibitions
One of the highlights when visiting Colchester is a trip to the contemporary art gallery Firstsite. Housed in an architecturally impressive building, past exhibitions have included shows by Andy Warhol, John Constable, and Eduardo Paolozzi as well as individual pieces by Grayson Perry and Carl Andre.
Just over the road you can find The Minories Gallery, run by the Colchester School of Art which has a dynamic exhibition programme, often including locally based artists. Their tearoom is run by Wilkin and Sons, makers of Tiptree Jam, and their shop is a treasure trove of locally crafted items and art.
Further afield there are several other gallerys worth exploring, including the Munnings Museum in the Dedham Vale, Sentinel Gallery in Wivenhoe, and Art Exchange on the University campus, which you can often find displaying items from the University of Essex's unrivalled collection of Latin American art.
Of course, you will also be able to find several pop-up exhibitions in local shops and cafes. Keep and eye on our What's On page to find out what's happening now and in the coming weeks.