Art, Theatre, and Culture in Colchester

Colchester is a culturally rich town, home to three theatres, an arts centre and several galleries including the internationally important Firstsite gallery. The town has a thriving artistic commmunity ensuring there is always a strong progamme of exhibitions, theatre, music and more happening in the town.

Beyond the town centre, Colchester lies on the border of Constable Country, an area of natural beauty that inspired the English landscape painter John Constable, and includes the areas depicted in some of his most famous paintings including the Haywain. 

Colchester's history and culture often intertwine. You can visit a Roman Theatre, or look at historic art in the Castle. Further afield you can find Medieveal wall paintings in Copford Church.
Firstsite Art Gallery, Colchester

Colchester's Cultural Highlights

Firstsite

Firstsite

Colchester's contemporary art gallery hosts exhibitions, film screenings, talks, activities and much more.

Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Mercury Theatre

The highly regarded Mercury Theatre stages both touring and self-produced plays in it's main auditorium. It also has a smaller studio theatre.

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester Arts Centre

From live music and comedy to live art and children's shows, there's always something happening at Colchester Arts Centre

High Street after dark

Colchester Nightlife

Live music, stand-up comedy, dancing, and more. There's something for everyone after dark in Colchester.

 

Theatres and Shows

James and the Giant Peach at Mercury Theatre

There's no shortage of Theatres in Colchester, with the Mercury Theatre and smaller Headgate Theatre serving the town centre, and the Lakeside Theatre based on the University of Essex campus just outside town.

The Mercury Theatre is the town's largest, and main producing Theatre, whilst the Headgate is the home of amateur theatre in Colchester. The Lakeside stages smaller productions as well as shows by students at the University.

Aside from the traditional theatres, Colchester Arts Centre often programmes plays and more challenging productions, whilst in the summer months you can find pop-up productions in a variety of gardens, churches and unused spaces around town.

View our Theatre Listings

Galleries & Exhibitions

For anyone with even a passing interest in art, a trip to Firstsite is essential. Hosting a rotating programme of exhibitions so there is always something to see, past exhibitions include shows by Andy Warhol, John Constable, and Grayson Perry.

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.

As well as art exhibitions, you can find a wealth of talks, activities, and performances taking place around town. 



Exhibitions Coming Up and Now On

Something Fierce

Something Fierce

Sat 23 Feb - Fri 19 Jul 2019

An Exhibition about the University of Essex’s Brutalist Architecture and Academic Vision

Days Like These

Days Like These

Thu 14 Mar - Sun 26 May 2019

Reclaiming the beauty of Jaywick Sands - Days Like These is an exploration of the beauty of Jaywick Sands using watercolours, sound and virtual reality.

Alfred Munnings

Behind the Lines: Alfred Munnings, War Artist 1918

Sat 23 Mar - Sun 3 Nov 2019

Exhibition of Alfred Munnings' War Paintings

Dunk 2018, Cory Arcangel

Cory Arcangel : BACK OFF

Fri 3 May - Sun 7 Jul 2019

Contemporary Art at Firstsite

Jelili Atiku

Fuel for Thought

Fri 3 May - Sat 1 Jun 2019

MA Curating student exhibition

Charles Debenham

The Man who Painted Colchester and Sudbury

Sat 4 May - Sun 2 Jun 2019

An exhibition of the work of Charles Debenham at Chappel Galleries

Hollington's, Coggeshall

Coggeshall Art Group Annual Art Exhibition

Fri 24 - Mon 27 May 2019

Exhibition of art by local artists in the Coggeshall Parish Church of St.Peter ad Vincula, , Coggeshall CO6 1UD

FORESTS

Forests - Art Exhibition

Sat 25 May - Fri 21 Jun 2019

Exhibition in the Level Best Gallery in Colchester, called "Forests" from May until June 2019.

An Exhibition of Art Work

An Exhibition of Art Work

Sat 25 May - Sun 2 Jun 2019

An exhibition of mixed media art work from local artists including Colin Smith, Dave Peck, Julie Bowes and John Talman.

'Rings of Wonder' by Patrick Elder

Sculpture in the Garden

Sun 26 May - Sat 28 Sep 2019

Sculpture Exhibition.

Bronze sculpture and paintings

The Bird Alphabet exhibition of Sculpture painting

Mon 27 May - Sat 15 Jun 2019

Art exhibition at the Minories Galleries

UCC End Of Year Show

Colchester School of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019

Thu 13 Jun 2019

End of Year Exhibition showcasing the work of local students at Colchester Institute

UCC End Of Year Show

Colchester School of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019

Fri 14 Jun 2019

End of Year Exhibition showcasing the work of local students at Colchester Institute

UCC End Of Year Show

Colchester School of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019

Sat 15 Jun 2019

End of Year Exhibition showcasing the work of local students at Colchester Institute

UCC End Of Year Show

Colchester School of Art, Summer Exhibition 2019

Mon 17 Jun 2019

End of Year Exhibition showcasing the work of local students at Colchester Institute

Poster Dedham Art Society

Dedham Art Society Summer Exhibition

Sun 23 - Sat 29 Jun 2019

Art Exhibition supporting Dedham Therapy Farm and showing paintings by Dedham Primary School as well Members of Dedham Art Society.

Historic Art and Culture in Colchester

Cow in river at Dedham Vale

Constable Country

Discover the landscapes that inspired some of the most recognisable art ever produced in Britain. John Constable was born and grew up close to Dedham on the Essex/Suffolk border.

Roman Theatre

Roman Art & Culture

Colchester Castle's collection of objects from Roman Britain is rivalled only by the British Museum. Also in town explore the ruins of a Roman Theatre and be sure to visit Britain's only known Roman Circus.

Copford Church - St Michael's & All Angels

Copford Church

Take a trip out to St Michael and All Angels Church in Copford where you can see some of the best preserved Norman wall-paintings in Britain.

Pallot & Collins Concrete Murals

Pallot & Collins Concrete Murals

Discover a series of concrete murals around Colchester Town Centre depicting its history and famous characters from it's past.

Download Map

More Culture in Colchester

Colchester Film Festival

Film Screenings

Browse one-off and special film screenings in Colchester. Watch out for outdoor screenings in the summer and Colchester Film Festival in the autumn

 

Roman River Music

Classical Music

Regular programmes of classical music are curated by Colchester's arts venues, local churches, and other venues. The Roman River Music Festival is a yearly highlight.

Comedy in Colchester

Comedy

Colchester has a thriving stand-up scene with several different sized venues hosting a wide range of comedians and shows. you will find a particularly busy schedule during the yearly Colchester Comedy Festival

Live Music in Colchester

Live Music

You can find live music week-in week-out in the pubs and bars of Colchester as well as bigger names throughout the year at venues like Colchester Arts Centre. Every summer, you can also find music festivals in Castle Park.

More things to do in Colchester

Cow in river at Dedham Vale
Wildlife & Green Spaces