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

Theatres in Colchester

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

Bronze Age

BRONZE AGE c. 3500 BC – AD 2018

Sat 17 Mar - Sun 28 Oct 2018

Art Exhibition at Firstsite

The Britishness Project

The Britishness Project

Sat 17 Mar - Sun 17 Jun 2018

Art Exhibition at Firstsite

Munnings Sign

RA250: Sir Alfred Munnings and the Royal Academy

Fri 30 Mar - Wed 31 Oct 2018

Exhibition celebrating Alfred Munnings as Past President of the Royal Academy

Lata Upadhyaya

Lata Upadhyaya | Transit: Identity of a White Van

Sat 12 May - Sun 17 Jun 2018

Art Exhibition at Firstsite

St Mary's Church

Stoke-by-Nayland Art Exhibition

Wed 23 - Tue 29 May 2018

Annual Art Exhibition in Stoke-By-Nayland

Our Hero, SideKick and Villain!

Student Games Design Exhibition

Wed 30 - Thu 31 May 2018

Students from the Level 3 Interactive Media and Games course at Colchester Institute are pleased to present their final projects in this pop-up exhibition at Firstsite.

Mersea Open Studios

Mersea Island Open Studios Weekend

Fri 1 - Sun 3 Jun 2018

Open Studios on Mersea Island

Summer Show Invite

...Unfinished Business, CSOA Summer Show

Thu 14 - Thu 21 Jun 2018

Discover the emerging talent from our college and degree courses at the Colchester School of Art.

25th Backyard Artists Exhibition Rowhedge

25th Backyard Artists Exhibition Rowhedge

Sat 16 - Sun 17 Jun 2018

Visitors are encouraged to come by ferry from Wivenhoe running Saturday 13:00 to 16:30 and Sunday 13:45 to 17:15, and to walk, cycle, use public transport or car share if possible as there's limited parking in Rowhedge's narrow streets.

Raqs

Raqs Media Collective: Not Yet At Ease

Sat 29 Sep - Mon 31 Dec 2018

Exhibition as part of #1418NOW at Firstsite

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. 

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