Firstsite Art Gallery

Itinerary Idea: Colchester's Art & Culture

Firstsite Art Gallery

Discover Colchester's Art & Culture

Spend a day exploring Colchester's rich mix of art and culture. Fill your morning in the town centre galleries, before heading out further afield where you can discover the landscape that inspired John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough amongst others.

Stay for the evening, and you can catch a show at one of the Colchester's theatres.

Morning: Art in the Town Centre

Firstsite Contemporary Art Gallery

Firstsite Art Gallery
Firstsite is a cutting-edge multimillion-pound visual art destination, located right in the heart of town. This cultural attraction showcases the work of regional, national and international artists, and frequently puts on cultural activities and shows.

The Minories Gallery

The Minories
The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery housed in a Listed Georgian building. The gardens, together with the folly within them, provide a delightful setting to appreciate the building and art work all with the option of a delicious lunch or afternoon tea from the onsite Tiptree Batte-Lay Tearoom.

Pallot & Collins Concrete Murals

Pallot & Collins Concrete Mural
Colchester's pedestrian subways, along with some other locations, are decorated with recently restored concrete murals by Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins. They tell the story of the town's history and highlight important historical figures from the town's past. 

Afternoon: Explore Further Afield

Cow in river at Dedham Vale
Constable Country
Munnings Museum
The Munnings Museum
The Sentinel Gallery & Wivenhoe
Copford Church & Wall Paintings

Evening: Out at the Theatre

Colchester is fortunate in being able to offer groups a wide range of high quality evening entertainment to suit all tastes. The award winning Mercury Theatre stages an exciting and varied programme, much of which is produced in-house by the acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company. In addition the Mercury regularly plays host to touring ballet and opera productions, comedy, jazz and popular music. Housed in St Mary's Church, Colchester Arts Centre also attracts many of the big names in comedy and jazz and is the area's foremost venue for folk, and the Headgate Theatre down the road also puts on shows. Charter Hall is another flexible space that can stage everything from full orchestras to one-man shows.

Theatres & Shows


Aladdin at Mercury Theatre. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

More cultural places to visit...

Birch Gallery


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.

Bourne Mill


National Trust property, the mill was originally built as a fishing lodge in 1591 and features stepped "Dutch" gables. There is a millpond and some of the machinery, including the waterwheel which is still intact and working.

Church of St Leonard


Traces of the English Civil War

Church of St Martin


Built from recycled Roman brick

Coggeshall Grange Barn


Grange Barn stands as a reminder of the once powerful Coggeshall Abbey; with ancient pillars soaring to a cathedral like roof.

Colchester Arts Centre


The home of live music, comedy, theatre, poetry, dance, children's shows, clubs, farmer's markets, gigs and more.

Colchester Castle Museum


Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.

Colchester Roman Circus Centre


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.



Set by the River Stour, Dedham is in the heart of Constable Country. It was here that Britain's greatest landscape artist went to school.

Dedham Art and Craft Centre


Dedham Art & Craft Centre is housed in a converted church in this popular village. The Centre exudes historic charm and is the perfect place to visit, shop and eat.

Dutch Quarter


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.

East Anglian Railway Museum


Celebrating the changing role of railways in the Eastern Counties since they arrived in the early 19th Century, through their glory days of the early 20th Century to the disappearances of the Beeching era.



An international gallery and creative community space, Firstsite is open all year round, for free, for everyone.

Flatford: Bridge Cottage


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.

Gosbecks Archaeological Park


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.

Hedingham Castle


Hedingham Castle is not just one place. Romantic, beautiful, ancient, historic and wild, it is somewhere to set your imagination free.

Hollytrees Museum


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.

Holy Trinity Church


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

Jaywick Martello Tower


Built originally as a Napoleonic Fort in the early 19th century the tower now acts as a central hub for the local community & visitors. There are regular arts & heritage exhibitions, talks & events.

Kentwell Hall | Historic House & Gardens


Kentwell Hall in Long Melford, is Suffolk’s hidden gem and one of England’s finest Tudor houses that stands within the most extensive moat in the county and over 30 acres of gardens and ground. Kentwell offer a yearly calendar of events.