Our Essex entertainment roundup includes a wide range of sports, theme parks for all ages and plenty of theatre, live music and comedy action.
Entertainment in Essex
Essex is a sporting hub, with everything from cricket, football, horse racing and banger racing on offer.
Fans of leather striking willow will want to head to see Essex C.C.C play at the County Cricket Ground in Chelmsford. One of the 18 county sides in the country, Essex have a long and illustrious history having won everything bar the new T20 trophy in their time. That is something they’re keen to change and you can see them attempt to do so by attending a T20 game. The season runs from April to September with the shorter-format T20 evening games the best-attended with a lively crowd.
Football fans have two professional league teams to choose from – Colchester United and Southend United. At the time of writing, Southend United are the highest-ranked of the two and play their League One home games at the 12,000-capacity Roots Hall stadium. Colchester United are in the league below and play at the modern 10,000-capacity Colchester Community Ground.
The newest horse racing venue in the UK, Chelmsford City Racecourse is an all-weather track with over 60 races throughout the year plus plenty of off-track action including concerts and festivals. The floodlit track has several restaurants, bars and hospitality areas in the main grandstand.
At the other end of the racing spectrum is Stansted Raceway. A local institution, this quarter-mile short circuit race track is 10 minutes from Stansted Airport. The racing is strictly limited to banger and hotrod racing, meaning collisions are encouraged. Wild, chaotic and a lot of fun, it’s highly recommended for anyone who enjoys racing and a bit of rough and tumble.
Sport in Essex
If you want thrills, spills and rollercoasters, you’ve come to the right place. Adventure Island next to the Southend-on-Sea Pier is a classic English theme park that’s been running since the late 70s. The park is packed with over 40 rides and rollercoasters plus a large indoor soft play zone, with cheaper tickets for children.
Where Adventure Island caters to families, children and adrenaline-junkies, Leisure Island on Canvey Island is geared more towards toddlers and younger children. The compact theme park has 20 rides spanning go-karts, tea-cups and pirate ships with a range of pay-as-you-go ticket and wristband options.
Further round the coast is Clacton Pier, a large L-shaped pier boasting everything from go-karts and ten pin bowling to the Seaquarium, large arcade, soft play area and adventure golf.
Theatre and live music
You’re never far from a night out at the theatre, a live gig or a stand-up comedy show in Essex, with high-profile theatres dotted throughout the county. Cliffs Pavilion in Southend-on-Sea is the largest: the main space can host 1,600 guests while the smaller Palace Theatre, Maritime Room and Admirals Room are perfect for stand-up comedy, more niche drama events, live music and film screenings.
If you’re staying at one of our hotels in Harlow, Harlow Playhouse is your closest theatre and events space with a varied programme spanning comedy, theatre, musicals, comedy and more. The theatre has two auditoriums plus a lively cafe and bar open daily for pre-show drinks and food.
Colchester has several theatres: the 500-capacity Mercury Theatre and the nearby Colchester Arts Centre, a converted church with a diverse line up including live music, cabaret, alternative drama, comedy and jazz.