Things to do in and around Colchester
Colchester today is a thriving town, with its own growing arts scene, and events for all ages happening around town.
The town centre and beyond offer fantastic places to eat, drink, and go shopping, from local produce and hand-made craft to high street chains and top class restaurants
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.
The museum showcases 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.
A spectacular new venue for contemporary visual arts, firstsite offers a changing programme of exhibitions by international artists, creative events and activities for the whole family, plus talks, films, workshops and more. Entry is free.
Colchester Zoo is constantly developing and has won many awards for its work. With over 260 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, Colchester Zoo is well worth a visit.
Natural History Museum
Discover an interesting ‘hands-on’ perspective on the local natural environment from the Ice Age right up to today. Explore the garden trail and stag beetle exhibition, free entry.
A highly respected regional theatre, home to the critically acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company, staging a broad mix of classic plays and new writing as well as working extensively within the local community.
Colchester’s Castle Park provides a perfect setting for a huge range of events including shows, festivals and concerts.
The Minories Galleries
The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery run in conjunction with Colchester School of Art & Design and Media.
St Botolph’s Priory
The first English Augustinian priory church, founded at the end of the eleventh century from the Anglo-Saxon minster community of Colchester. Only the ruined remains of the nave survive today, under the care of English Heritage.
Highwoods Country Park
370 acres of woodland, grassland and wetland with path network, including circular walks and easy access trail. Visitor centre and interactive displays, rangers organise a range of activities throughout the year.
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.
Britain’s most easterly inhabited island, home to the settlements of East and West Mersea. It is accessed by ‘The Strood’ – a causeway which at high tide floods, making the island separate from the mainland. Noted for its sailing, fishing and oyster beds. West Mersea is a small town, with old fisherman’s cottages and a shingle beach.
Layer Marney Tower
Built around 1520. Layer Marney Tower, 6 miles south of Colchester, is the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in England. The building is principally the creation of Henry, the first Lord Marney, a close friend of Henry VIII.
Dedham is one of the most attractive villages in Essex and closely associated with the quintessentially English landscape painter John Constable. The imposing church of St Mary the Virgin dominates the High Street and features in several of Constable’s paintings.
For more information on Colchester, have a look at these websites: