Not sure what to get your loved ones for Christmas?

The friendly Visit Colchester elves have come to your rescue with plenty of ideas for experiences and gifts to stop you from panic buying yet another pair of socks!!!

An envelope under the christmas tree

Here is part one in our list of suggestions for great presents to suit all pockets, that also help to support local businesses! This post features experiences, vouchers & memberships unique to Colchester.

Experience Days (& Nights) - Only In Colchester!

- Do you have animal lover in your midst? They can talk to the animals and be a keeper for a day at Colchester Zoo. The Zoo have a range of experiences that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the animals, and step into a keeper’s boots for behind the scenes access at one of Colchester’s most loved attractions.

colchester zoo

- Why not book a private tour of historic Colchester for you and your family? Guided walking tours are provided by Visit Colchester’s Qualified Town Guides - Bookable for any day of the week, your group can take a walk around Colchester town centre to discover 2000 years of the town’s history. Perfect for history lovers, and the guides can tailor your tour to specific areas of interest and the ages of the people within your group.

- Have a train enthusiast in the family? Choo Choo Choo-se the gift of a very unique day learning to drive a steam train at East Anglian Railway Museum.

- Book a show in advance for lovers of live entertainment from Colchester Arts Centre. Comedy and Music events are bookable throughout 2022, with some names you might recognise including comedians Stephen K Amos, Maisie Adam, Simon Brodkin (aka Lee Nelson) and many others.

Colchester Events Company also have some big names booked to perform in Colchester in 2022 – how about gifting a ticket to Jason Manford or Omid Djalili at Charter Hall, or Simply Red in Castle Park?

concert in castle park

- Treat the younger members of your family to a ticket to the Mercury Theatres’ pantomime Aladdin which is running until January 16th.

Colchester Castle Museum have vouchers available for 'After Hours' visits, for those who fancy an evening of family fun after dark.

-Treat someone you love to an unforgettable New Years Eve at Wivenhoe House Hotel. They’re hosting a gala dinner & disco evening to help you see 2022 in style, and you can stay over too by booking one of their luxurious New Years Eve Packages.

- An idea for someone who has it all, treat them to something really different - what about a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride, a Hot Air Balloon ride, a Rib Boat Tour or a trip in a Glider? There are many local private businesses that allow you to see the Borough of Colchester in a different way.

Pampering  - Treat Someone Special To A Well Deserved Spa Day!

- Spoil someone you love to relaxation in the Aqua Springs day spa. They can sweat out all of those Xmas toxins in the steam room, relax in saunas aplenty and have their pick of beauty treatments and massages.

relaxing in aqua springs

- Or you could opt for something a little different by giving them the gift of floatation therapy with Float & Booch. Their premises includes a relaxing kombucha lounge where lucky guests can enjoy a nutrient rich mocktail after a float.

- Other spots in the wider Borough of Colchester where you can have a taste of relaxation and luxury, both in the spa & in the restaurant, include Bannatyne Kingsford Park & The Treatment Room Spa at Milsoms Maison Talbooth

Memberships - The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

- Treat someone you love to a Colchester Castle Guardian Membership. Guardian Members help to protect, share, and preserve Colchester’s heritage, which includes three venues – Colchester Castle, Hollytrees Museum and the Natural History Museum. Guardians can enjoy a range of benefits, including free entry to the Castle, invitations to VIP preview events, discounts in the Museums’ shops, and Museum Money vouchers for After Hours bookings and events.  

colchester castle in the snow

- With a Zoo Pass, you and your family can have unlimited entry to Colchester Zoo, entry to special annual events, and discounts in the Gift Shop, in onsite restaurants and money off of animal experiences. 

- Sign an art fan up to Firstsite’s Collectors Group. The Collectors group raises money to support exhibitions and the work of practising artists in the region. Members are also offered opportunities to participate in visits to artists' studios, collections, Firstsite’s own exhibitions and other cultural attractions. 

- Treat someone special to a Leisure World Colchester membership and give them the gift of hard work at the gym! But also relaxation at the Aqua Springs spa for a whole year.

- Have a friend who loves the theatre? You could pay for them to become a Friend of the Mercury Theatre, giving them the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with supporting one of the towns’ most loved venues, and also priority booking for performances. 

- Need a gift idea for the budding archaeologist in your life? Sign them up to be a Friend of Colchester Archaelogical Trust. The Friends is a support group for the Trust and provides members with regular information about the excavation and recording of Colchester’s rich archaeological heritage. Other benefits include organised trips and talks throughout the year.

-Treat a green fingered friend to a membership at Beth Chatto's Plants & Garden, and they will receive unlimited seasonal garden entry, exclusive invitations and exciting behind-the-scenes exploration.

Well thats a wrap on part one of our Christmas Gift Guide, we'll post part two soon, which focusses on gifts for foodies, unique handmade gifts from Colchester's creatives and much more!


Christmas Open Evening at Colchester Castle
Christmas Event
Christmas Open Evening at Colchester Castle

FREE Open Evening at Colchester Castle!

Guided Tour: Georgian and Victorian Colchester at Christmas
Christmas Event
Colchester's Town Hall

Join your costumed guide to discover the many ways in which the townsfolk of Georgian and Victorian Colchester celebrated Christmas.

Christmas Late Night Shopping in Colchester
Shopping Event
Late Wednesdays promotional graphic

Late night shopping returns to Colchester Town Centre for Christmas 2023

Christmas - Pantos, Theatre and Music
Aladdin rides his magic carpet in the distance, behind a magic lamp

Pantomime returns to Colchester in 2021 with another spectacular production from the Mercury Theatre. This year, treat yourself to a story of magic and untold riches as the classic tale of Aladdin hits the stage.



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