Whether you want to see a show, catch a bit of live music, laugh until your sides hurt, see some sports, or sing for the moment, there’s an entertainment option for everyone in Colchester.
Entertainment in Colchester
When it comes to live music venues, the pick of the bunch in Colchester is the Three Wise Monkeys public house on the High Street. Just opposite V Bar, one of Colchester’s nightlife hotspots, it’s a four-floor favourite with locals that offers a great selection of beers, wines, cocktails and spirits; serves delicious American-style barbecue food; houses a secluded speakeasy slash gin bar in the basement; and has a second floor 200-capacity gig room devoted to live music, comedy and club nights. It’s worth seeing what’s on; Three Wise Monkeys books everything from reggae to rock; house to hip-hop. And best of all, it’s just a few hundred yards from our Colchester Town Centre (Castle) hotel.
Just around the corner from the Mercury Theatre, Colchester’s premier theatre venue, the Colchester Arts Centre is another fantastic place to catch a gig during your stay. Housed in what used to be the St. Mary at the Walls Church, this former house of God has hosted some huge names from the entertainment industry over the past 35 years or so, including Coldplay, Eddie Izzard, The Libertines, The Killers, The Strokes and Jack Dee. On the first Sunday of the month it hosts the fantastic Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club, and on the first Friday of the month comedians from the national circuit have locals rolling in the aisles as part of the uproarious Laughter Zone Comedy Club.
The Bull is a brilliant pub on Crouch Street that’s big on its music. You can head down for weekly gigs, jam sessions, open mic nights, and karaoke evenings, while their regular House of Blues nights, where you can play with the aptly named Ragged & Dirty house band, are particularly popular.
The jewel in the crown of Colchester’s theatre scene is the Mercury Theatre, which has made a name for itself across the country for the quality of its ‘Made in Colchester’ productions. It seats nearly 500 people and has welcomed theatregoers with shows like Peter Pan, The History Boys and Animal Farm.
The Mercury isn’t your only option if you want to see a show during your stay in Colchester. The Headgate Theatre just off St. John’s Street is housed in a 19th-century chapel, which was converted into a stunning 87-seat theatre thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of a team of volunteers. Now a cherished part of Colchester’s entertainment scene, you can see all kinds of shows at The Headgate Theatre, including drama, dance, pantomimes, comedy and serious contemporary productions. It runs regular drama workshops to help young people get into the creative arts and hosts competitions to give budding playwrights the chance to see their work performed on stage.
If you want to see what’s coming out of the University of Essex, then you can also head to the Lakeside Theatre, which is part of the Colchester Campus. As well as allowing students to take the stage in some fantastic productions, the 200-seat theatre also welcomes some of the best touring fringe companies from around the country.
When it comes to watching sports in Colchester there are a couple of options to choose from. For football, the Colchester Community Stadium is the home of Colchester United FC. It’s perfect for people staying at our Colchester (A12) hotel, as the stadium is just one junction, and just a couple of minutes’ drive, down the A12.
Likewise, our Colchester Cowdray Avenue hotel is barely half a mile from Castle Park Cricket Ground, if that’s your sport. Up until 2016, it was the occasional home ground of Essex County Cricket Club. When it’s not hosting first-class cricket matches, it’s used by Colchester & East Essex Cricket Club. It’s a pretty ground, bordered by a surviving Roman wall.