Discover the best arts and culture in and around Christchurch with our guide to the best events, festivals, galleries and museums.
Culture in Christchurch
A small but action-packed space, the Hayloft Gallery is in the heart of Christchurch, just behind the Red House Museum and Gardens. Opened in 1999, it initially focused on landscape works, but expanded in 2011 to include more contemporary painters and sculptors. It regularly rotates its exhibition space to showcase work from local artists and is a great place to spend an hour.
Just around the corner on Church Street, Hatch Gallery is a similar-sized space dedicated to British contemporary artists that opened in 2012. With regular exhibitions, it’s a great place to explore the cutting edge scene on the south coast, while it also sells a stunning collection of handcrafted jewellery and driftwood furniture and sculptures.
Christchurch Food Festival
Red House Museum
Christchurch might have a population of under 50,000 but you wouldn’t know that from the range and number of events and festivals they put on each year.
One of the biggest events on the calendar is the Christchurch Food Festival, held every May, which attracts more than 70,000 food fans keen to get a taste of everything from cupcakes to fish and chips. The High Street is turned into a local market, with hundreds of stalls, cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, cooking competitions and food trucks. And, very happily, it coincides with the local beer festival making it one of the most popular and fun-filled weekends of the year.
Started in 1994, the Christchurch Festival of Music and Dance takes place at the end of June at Christchurch Quay and is a three-day festival that caters for all ages and music with over 15 bands and acts taking to the main stage.
Now into its 25th year, Stompin’ on the Quomps is a one-day jazz festival held at the start of August that brings together 10 smooth jazz, fusion, latin, blues and big band acts over two stages. A free entry event, the organisers do ask for a donation, with the family-friendly event taking place on the quay just a short walk from our Christchurch West hotel.
Celebrating the arts and crafts scene in the region, the Mudeford Arts Festival embraces the local community’s passion for painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery and more with a two-day party held at the end of July each year at the Mudeford Quay Green, a short drive from our Christchurch Highcliffe hotel.
A fun family day out, and a crucial fundraiser, the Mudeford Lifeboat Fun Day takes place at the start of August and brings together funfair rides, duck and raft races and an impressive helicopter and lifeboat display, with all proceeds going directly to the Mudeford Lifeboat Station.
A free-to-visit former workhouse, the Red House Museum and Gardens was built in 1764 and is a fascinating Georgian building that fascinatingly depicts the local history. Located a short distance from the Priory and the Boathouse, there are guided tours in the morning, with the afternoons given over to more relaxed discovery while the gardens contain many historic flowers and plants including a walled herb garden and large area of woodland.
Flying fanatics will want to head to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum where you can look around more than 50 displays and exhibits including fixed-wing planes and helicopters. Located opposite Adventure Wonderland, the museum takes a hands-on approach to their exhibits. Guests are encouraged to touch and ask questions with most of the cockpits ready and waiting for you to jump in, including the famous English Electric Lightning, a supersonic fighter jet from the Cold War.