Our Colchester

New city centre monthly festival starting in November!


A FREE new monthly festival is starting in November, with events throughout Colchester city centre! First Thursdays is a new project to celebrate the city’s vibrant and diverse cultural scene, and will see venues across the city thrown open for the community, with fantastic performances, workshops and interactive experiences, all free to attend.

Kicking off on Thursday 2nd November, the first festival includes a beginners salsa dance class led by Mexican dance teacher Katy Ermel at Firstsite, a virtual tour around Colchester’s lost and ancient theatres by local arts historian Dorian Kelly, live music by talented local songwriters Jack Walsh and Simon Craze at Patch, a flavour of Caribbean dance traditions by the fabulous choreographer Rosy May will surprise audiences on the streets and in multiple venues  and street buskers brought together by the charitable organisation Musicians Supporting the Homeless in Lion Walk (Red Lion Yard).  This is on top of performances and gigs  happening at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester Arts Centre, Firstsite and Two Brew Brewery, all brought together in a programme that means you can hop from venue to venue, sampling the best of Colchester’s nightlife in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. . The eclectic and exciting programme brings together artists, arts organisations, venues, businesses and community groups, and is modelled on similar monthly events in cities across the country. 

First Thursdays is produced by Creative Colchester, the partnership which brings together the city’s  cultural, creative and digital sectors, including the major arts organisations as well as artists and freelance creatives, to work collaboratively on projects that support the local cultural scene.

First Thursdays has been made possible after being funded by Arts Council England, Our Colchester BID,and Firstsite. Due to their support, local artists will also be given the opportunity to apply for funded commissions (ranging from £500-£2,500). If successful, they will be invited to perform their work at First Thursdays from February 2024 onwards. The first round of applications for the First Thursdays commissions open on 1st November 2023. 

First Thursdays festival producer, Cameron Abbott-Betts said:  “This is a very exciting project that will have something for everyone to enjoy - bringing culture out onto the streets of our city centre in a fun and festive atmosphere. . If you’ve not yet explored all that our city has to offer - this is the perfect opportunity to try something new from the  talented artists in our community, in welcoming and relaxed spaces. 

Creative Colchester chair Hana Loftus said“First Thursdays is a simple idea but a real game changer for our city centre - fun and unusual creative experiences for everyone to enjoy, bringing the city alive. Each month we’ll be giving our community a fantastic evening out and the chance to try something new - and all for free!

Sam Good, Chief Executive of Our Colchester BID  said “First Thursdays is part of our commitment to making Colchester city centre the best place to spend an evening in Essex. From art to live music, dance classes to theatre, what better way to enjoy our beautiful city centre and all it has to offer!

You can find out more info about First Thursdays by going to  www.creativecolchester.org.uk/first-thursdays