Colchester’s Firstsite will reopen its doors next week!


Colchester’s Firstsite will reopen its doors on Thursday 3 December with a programme packed with art, creativity and festive treats.

The popular art gallery will be open daily from 3 December for visitors to enjoy a variety of free-to-see exhibitions. These include the new Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibition, My Name is not Refugee – a powerful new exhibition revealing the experiences of newcomers to our shores – and the heart-warming @background_bob and his amazing friends.

Firstsite is also delighted to announce a brand-new exhibition – Rachel Spender: Essex Salt Marsh from the Air – which runs until Sunday 14 March 2021. The show offers an opportunity to see the East Anglian coastal landscape from an entirely different perspective in a series of beautiful black and white photographs.

Taken using film cameras from a small aeroplane and hand printed in a traditional darkroom, Rachel’s photographs focus on the sculptural and textural qualities of the marshes – while also highlighting our responsibility to look after the environment that surrounds us.

Opening on 4 December, Firstsite’s Festive Fun activities begin with their first ever artificial ice-skating rink, located outside on the lawn. Each ice-skating session lasts for 45 minutes and is priced from £12 for adults and just £6 for children under 14-years old. All the latest Government safety guidelines relating to Covid-19 will be in place to maintain everyone’s safety and security, both on and around the ice. For more information and tickets, visit

Also launching on 4 December (until 23 December) is a Winter Market directly outside the gallery, with pop-up stalls selling seasonal treats and goodies.

Classic festive films will also be playing throughout December in the Firstsite cinema, as will screened performances of The Nutcracker by The Royal Ballet, recorded from London’s fabulous Royal Opera House. Visitors will also be able to enjoy light meals and seasonal snacks in the Firstsite cafe and the shop will be stocked with unique gifts that are perfect for culture vultures.

Firstsite’s acclaimed Holiday Fun programme is also set to make a return, with extra days being added to the usual schedule of activities to keep local youngsters occupied, active and well-fed throughout December and the winter school holidays.

For those who cannot get to the gallery right now, Firstsite remains open online 24/7, bringing free art to everyone’s homes with a programme of events, films and features that you can enjoy wherever you are. This includes the Super Black Festival, celebrating African and Caribbean history and culture, The Art Cave – a fun, free art show that is released on their website at 10am each Saturday morning – and Art is where the home is, the free-to-download, online activity packs designed to keep everyone entertained, creative and engaged at home.

Firstsite Director, Sally Shaw MBE says “We are so excited to welcome everyone back to Firstsite. We’ve missed all our visitors and the communities that we work so closely with. We’ve got some amazing exhibitions for everyone to explore, especially My name is not Refugee co-curated by members of Refugee Action – Colchester, which brings together so many exciting artworks from the Arts Council Collection including pieces by Mona Hatoum and David Shrigley. This exhibitions invites us all to think about our commonalities and connections – there’s no better time to think about the people around us, and how varying viewpoints and experiences make our community vibrant, strong and will ultimately help us overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“Our new programme is designed to help everyone really take time to find comfort in creativity, feel part of their community again and connect with others through this shared experience of art, reflection and inspiration in a comfortable and safe environment.”

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