Castle Park

Fun for Free

Looking for some great ideas for free things to do and free places to visit in Colchester?

Here is our guide for some great free things to do, whether it’s with the kids or a group of friends, there is something for everyone.

If you want to spend a little but not break the bank, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our top things to do for underafiver

Let us know about your days out for free or under a fiver. You can also join in the fun with our #ispycolchester game.

Hollytrees Museum

Free Places to Visit

Colchester offers a wealth of free places to visit, whether you want to take in the free historical sites of the town or explore the countryside for a stroll and a picnic, we have got it all.

If you fancy getting out of town why not head for the water on Mersea Island, Wivenhoe or Brightlingsea. With the temperature rising enjoy the water and beach area on beautiful Brightlingsea. Walk along the promenade and admire all the brightly coloured beach huts with their unique names.

Walk the Town to Port Trail and sit by the water’s edge in Wivenhoe and enjoy the boats and a drink by the water.

Why not try your hand at crabbing on Mersea Island, collect Oyster shells from the beach, fly a kite and see the pill boxes at Cudmore Grove Country Park. These are just a few ideas of the activities to enjoy for free on Mersea Island.

Do you like walking in the countryside?,  download the app and explore High Woods Country Park with free nature walks throughout the year and waymarked paths that lead you through  woods with glimpses of the lake and lovely views of Colchester.


If being outdoors is not for you there are plenty of free places to visit indoors. Discover one of the free museums or take time to contemplate in one of the many free art galleries.

Birch Gallery

Birch Gallery

Colchester

Art gallery displaying fine detail watercolours by John Harrison, Originals high quailty prints and greeting cards for sale. Tea room providing teas speciality, coffees, lunches, snacks and cream teas. Closed on Mon & Tues.

Bridge Cottage

Flatford: Bridge Cottage

Dedham

A delightful 16th century cottage just minutes from Flatford Mill. Why not visit our Constable exhibition then sit by the river and enjoy a freshly baked cake at the National Trust tea room and find a gift in our shop.

Castle Park and Gardens

Castle Park

Colchester

Colchester's Castle Park provides a perfect setting for a huge range of events including shows, festivals and concerts.

Roman Circus Peter Froste CAT

Colchester Roman circus centre

Colchester

The Colchester Roman circus (chariot-racing arena) was discovered in 2005. It was built in the early 2nd century AD and seems to have been in use for about 150 years. It is the only known Roman circus in Britain.

Alison Burchert - Essex based artist

Dedham Art and Craft Centre

Colchester

This beautifully converted church showcases the work of over 60+ creative artisans and the buying skills of specialist retailers on its top two floors while the ground floor houses a Lifestyle Living showroom and a tearoom.

Dutch Quarter

Dutch Quarter

Colchester

Located just north of the High Street and includes: Maidenburgh Street, West Stockwell Street, East Stockwell Street, Stockwell Street, St Helen's Lane, Northgate Street and Nunn's Road.

firstsite, photo: Richard Bryant, arcaidimages.com

Firstsite

Colchester

A spectacular new venue for contemporary visual arts, firstsite offers a changing programme of exhibitions by international artists, creative events and activities for the whole family, plus talks, films, workshops and more. Entry is free.

Gosbecks Archaeological Park Map

Gosbecks Archaeological Park

Colchester

The Archaeological Park is one of the most significant Iron Age and Roman sites in the country. Enjoy a walk and discover the highlights of the site with the interpretation boards around the Park.

Hollytrees Museum

Hollytrees Museum

Colchester

An important part of Colchester's rich history with three centuries of fascinating toys, costume and decorative arts displayed in an attractive Georgian town house from 1718.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Colchester

Discover and interesting 'hands-on' perspective on the local natural environment from the Ice Age right up to today. Explore the garden trail and stag beetle exhibition, free entry.

Roman Church

Roman Church

Colchester

Dating from the 4th century AD the foundations of this church near the Police Station just off the Maldon Road roundabout is probably the earliest known Christian church in Britain.

Balkerne Gate

Roman Wall/Guard Room/Triumphal Arch

Colchester

Colchester's Roman Wall is the oldest and longest surviving town wall in Britain.

St Botolph's Priory

St Botolph's Priory, Colchester

Colchester

The first English Augustinian priory church, founded at the end of the eleventh century from the Anglo-Saxon minster community of Colchester. Only the ruined remains of the nave survive today, under the care of English Heritage.

St John's Abbey Gate

St John's Abbey Gate

Colchester

Dating from the 15th century this fine flint flushwork gatehouse just off St John's Green has a vaulted interior. It was the entrance to St John's Abbey precinct (demolished during the 16th century Reformation).

The Minories

The Minories Galleries

Colchester

The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery run in conjunction with Colchester School of Art & Design and Media.

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Colchester

Centre run by the Essex Wildlife Trust in partnership with Essex & Suffolk Water, at a sight of international importance for winter wildfowl. Nature trails, bird hides, events & shop selling refreshments, gifts, optics & books.

Fingringhoe Wick Visitor Centre

Fingringhoe Wick Visitor Centre

Colchester

Stunning 125 acre nature reserve situated on the banks of the River Colne. It has a diverse range of habitats and 8 nature watching hides The visitor centre: includes gift shop, Tearoom, toilets and baby changing facilities

High Woods Country Park

High Woods Country Park

Colchester

370 acres of woodland, grassland and wetland with path network, including circular walks and easy access trail. Visitor centre and interactive displays, rangers organise a range of activities throughout the year.

Cudmore Grove Country Park

Cudmore Grove Country Park

Mersea Island

Cudmore Grove offers visitors a trip to the seaside with a difference at the eastern tip of Mersea Island. The park includes a sandy beach and open grassland, perfect for picnics and great views.

Hilly Fields

Hilly Fields

Colchester

Situated close to the centre of Colchester, Hilly Fields offers an interesting mix of woodland, undulating paths and fantastic views. Collect a leaflet on the area from Visit Colchester Information Centre.

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church, GO4 Café and Market

Colchester

Colchester's only surviving Saxon building which has an arrowhead (triangle arches) doorway in the tower and features re-used Roman bricks.

Church of St Leonard's

Church of St Leonard

Colchester

Traces of the English Civil War

Free Events

Holidays can be expensive, so we have compiled all of our free events into one handy listing for you. come rain or shine, there are free events for every occasion.

Get crafty with arts in the park and why not make a day of it with a picnic and grab a copy of the Castle Park Bee Trail to keep you buzzing all afternoon. For the budding archaeologists among us, there are hands on finds sessions, kids digs and guided tours at Britain's only Roman Circus Centre.

Summer is festival time and they are even better when they are free! So grab your sunhat and deckchair and head to Castle Park where you can enjoy the sweet music from the bandstand on a Sunday afternoon or one of the festivals.

Try something new with circus skills at firstsite or be fascinated by fossils at the Natural History Museum.

 

 

Browse All Free Events

Oh America

Gee Vaucher - An Introspective

Colchester

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

Colchester

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.

Blue Tits by Carl Borges

Landscape Impressed – prints by 12PM

Sudbury

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.

art gallery

Movement of the People [pt3]

Colchester

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

Colchester

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.

Free Kids Craft Event

Free Kids Craft Event

Colchester

Thu 8 Dec 2016

KIDS! Come rain or shine, bring a grown up and enjoy free recycled craft activities! A range of activities will be available to try while you make new friends. Wear old clothes in case you get messy!

Allocated Orange

Allocated Orange

Colchester

Fri 9 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

Allocated Orange

Allocated Orange

Colchester

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

Hollytrees at Christmas

Christmas at Hollytrees Weekend

Colchester

Sat 10 - Sun 11 Dec 2016

A weekend of festive activities including craft workshop, walking tour, Tiptree jam tasting and stories by the Doll's House

Crackers In The Square

Crackers In The Square

Colchester

Sat 10 Dec 2016

Culver Square are going crackers this Christmas and giving away lots of prizes! Pull a cracker in the Square on Saturdays in December, for your chance to win a special gift or toy. Prizes range from small toys to £100 gift vouchers.

Beeswax Candles

Free Christmas Craft Workshop

Colchester

Sat 10 Dec 2016

Christmas Crafts with artist Val Osment – make a festive beeswax candle or organic tree decoration to take home or give as a gift

Allocated Orange

Allocated Orange

Colchester

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

Castle Open Evenings

Christmas Open Evening

Colchester

Wed 14 Dec 2016

A seasonal treat as Colchester Castle opens its doors for FREE! Come and soak up the Christmas atmosphere with carols, mince pies, entertainment and an opportunity to meet Santa before his busy night.

High Woods

Family Forest Fun

Colchester

Fri 16 Dec 2016

A group for parents/carers and babies/children of all ages, to enjoy the woodland together and allow the children free play in nature.

Crackers In The Square

Crackers In The Square

Colchester

Sat 17 Dec 2016

Culver Square are going crackers this Christmas and giving away lots of prizes! Pull a cracker in the Square on Saturdays in December, for your chance to win a special gift or toy. Prizes range from small toys to £100 gift vouchers.

Craft Events

Crafts in the Park

Colchester

Wed 28 Dec 2016

KIDS! Come rain or shine, bring a grown up and a picnic to Colchester Castle park and enjoy free recycled craft activities.

Please Note:


Some attractions or events may incur a parking charge or a suggested donation.