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

Alfred Munnings

Behind the Lines: Alfred Munnings, War Artist 1918

Sat 23 Mar - Sun 3 Nov 2019

Exhibition of Alfred Munnings' War Paintings

'Rings of Wonder' by Patrick Elder

Sculpture in the Garden

Sun 26 May - Sat 28 Sep 2019

Sculpture Exhibition.

‘Burano Bull’

Chappel Galleries Summer Exhibition

Sat 6 Jul - Sun 1 Sep 2019

Chappel Galleries are hosting their Summer Exhibition with works by artisits Martin Battye, Simon Carter, Michelle Franklin, Brian Taylor- Sculptor (1935-2013) and new work from gallery artists.

Marks Hall Sculpture

Marks Hall Sculpture 2019

Sat 20 Jul - Sat 31 Aug 2019

Sculpture Trail at Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum.

Beyond Plastic

Beyond Plastic

Mon 5 - Fri 30 Aug 2019

Art Exhibition at the Minories

Mark Titchner

Mark Titchner: Some questions about us

Fri 23 Aug - Sun 13 Oct 2019

In this exhibition, Mark will present a number of works exploring the notions of displacement and belonging in connection to migration and national identity.

Siobhan Coen Unknown Knows

Siobhan Coen: Unknown Knowns

Fri 23 Aug - Sun 13 Oct 2019

English artist Siobhan Coen has been looking into the effect of RGB lights on different paint colours.

Roland Piché: Starry Starry Night

Roland Piché Sculpture: Starry Starry Night

Sun 15 Sep - Sat 5 Oct 2019

This exhibition takes a metaphorical peek into the studio of this historically significant sculptor, who has spent the last 50 years developing his work with an unswerving commitment and free from commercial concerns. Not to be missed.

Thierry Oussou: Impossible is Nothing

Thierry Oussou: Impossible is Nothing

Mon 30 Sep - Sat 2 Nov 2019

Exhibition at Art Exchange on the University campus

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.

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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