Things to do

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Colchester today is a thriving town, with a growing arts scene, and lots of places of cultural and historic importance. It also has a great shopping centre and an exciting nightlife.

Here are some of the amazing attractions that Colchester has to offer.

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle is an iconic landmark in the centre of town. It was built by the Normans on the site of the Roman temple of Claudius. Inside the castle, is an amazing interactive museum. This museum explains many aspects of Colchester’s history from before the time of the Romans until modern times. Its even has displays of gold and jewellery found by archaeologists recently.

Castle Park

Castle Park is a beautiful, well kept park. It is a place where young people, old people and families can go to walk, relax, play games, and have refreshments. In summer, there are often music and food festivals and other interesting events.

Hollytrees Museum

You can see how people lived in the past in this interesting museum which is free.The museum is set in an old family house full of interesting historical objects. This museum is located next to Colchester Castle within the Castle Park grounds.

Firstsite

This is a spectacular new gallery for contemporary visual art. At Firstsite you can see exhibitions by international artists. Recent exhibitions have included Andy Warhol and Grayson Perry. There are also creative events and activities for the whole family, plus talks, films, workshops and a cafe. The building itself is architecturally innovative and a must-see in Colchester. Entry is free.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is one of the best in Europe. It has over 260 species and is set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes. There are many facilities and activities for children.

Mercury Theatre

This is a highly respected regional theatre, home to the critically acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company. All throughout the year, interesting plays, shows and reviews can be seen.

The Minories Galleries

The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery run by Colchester School of Art. In the Minories, art and craft work of local interest is exhibited. There is also an arts and crafts shop and a cafe. The Minories is located next to Firstsite.

Mersea Island

Mersea Island is a 15 minute drive from Colchester. You reach it by crossing over a causeway, which sometimes floods at high tide. On the island is a small fishing port called West Mersea. West Mersea is famous for its oysters and it is a great place to eat fresh seafood. Mersea Island is also an attractive place for walking and water sports such as wind surfing and canoeing.

Layer Marney Tower

The tower is a beautiful Tudor gatehouse built in 1520. In fact, it is the tallest gatehouse in England. You can do a tour of the tower and the grounds and find out the interesting history connected to it.  Layer Marney Tower is 6 miles from Colchester, and is a great day out for individuals and families. Sometimes, outdoor performances, such as plays and concerts are held there during the summer.

 

Dedham Vale

Dedham Vale is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is famously associated with the great English landscape painter John Constable. The village of Dedham has good quality restaurants, tea shops and antique shops. It is possible to rent a boat and row down the river to Flatford Mill, another beautiful spot. It is a great base for country walks. There is also a museum dedicated to the work of another famous English artist, Alfred Munnings.