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Discover & explore cultural Essex


Anyone who's visited Essex will know that this is a county that is far from defined by TOWIE. It is an area of diverse landscapes ranging from rolling hills right through to traditional seaside towns; it is also a region from where famous artists have hailed and which boasts a staggering array of cultural centres; finally it is a region that is home to an impressive array of cultural events all year through as well as providing all the galleries, theatres and museums to keep even the most demanding of culture vultures happy.


Historical sites

Essex is awash with history, with historical sites that could easily fill an entire months' worth of days out. Historical sites throughout the county have been influenced by a wide variety of European cultures including the Romans whose work may be seen within towns such as Colchester, Chelmsford, Braintree, Great Dunmow and Heybridge, Maldon.


Following the Roman's departure from Essex the region became home to Saxons, and later the Vikings, whilst there remains little to denote the latter party's occupation of the region, there is the Saxon Prittlewell Chamber Tomb, unearthed in 2003, which is described as 'the most spectacular discovery of its kind made during the past 60 years'.


Finally Essex has been also called home by the Normans, who have left the biggest marks within the region where castles, churches and towns stand to this day. Of particular interest and popularity are Hedingham Castle, Mountfitchet Castle and Waltham Abbey.


Cultural events

Essex is a region that has a seriously packed diary of cultural events, with these ranging from concerts and theatre plays right through to air shows and sporting events. Couple this with the events that are put on privately within museums and historical attractions and you can be sure that no matter the time of year you're visiting they'll be plenty to see and do.



Music events within Essex range from annual festivals covering both mainstream and niche music right through to weekly events put on by some of the best venues within the Essex County.


Key events within the Essex music calendar include:


Cosmic Puffin Music Festival - May: Mersea Island

This family focused event includes over 100 bands, 5 stages and a kid's area.


Leigh Folk Festival - June: Leigh-on-Sea

This yearly event includes everything from barn dancing right through to workshops and dance classes.


Brentwood Festival - July: Brentwood

This annual event has become somewhat of a favourite for tourists and locals alike and includes all the fun of camping along with a wide range of music, food and drink.


V Festival - August: Highlands Park, Chelmsford

This is a festival with some of the hottest stars lining up to take to the stage.


Harwich Sea Shanty Festival - October: Harwich

This annual event celebrates shanties and sea songs within the historic port of Harwich.


Southend Music Festival - November: Southend

Taking place each year, this competitive event covers both music and drama.


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The Harlow Sculpture Trail

One trip to Essex and it's easy to see why this region has proved so popular with artists throughout hundreds of years and onto this very day.


A perfect example of Essex's art connections is the Harlow Sculpture Trail which features a wide range of sculptures that are nationally and histrionically significant. These sculptures feature throughout Harlow town as well as within the Gibberd Gallery.


The River Stort Sculpture Trail

A celebration that combines the Sculpture Trail along with Essex's famous water ways is the River Stort Sculpture Trail; covering four locks in total with a relevant sculptural piece placed at each location this trail follows the Harlow waterways and passes the metal and glass walkway at Pardon Mill.



Galleries within Essex span a wide range of towns with each offering the visitor something fresh, from contemporary art to historical classics. Here follows a small selection of some of the many galleries that may be of interest within Essex:


Lindsell Art Gallery - Dunmow


Hornchurch Fine Art Gallery - Hornchurch


Old Leigh Studios - Leigh-on-Sea


Firstsite - Colchester


Hayletts Art Gallery - Maldon


Church Street Gallery - Saffron Walden



Museums within Essex cover practically every interest, with particularly popular museums being: Hollytrees Museum, Colchester; Museum of Power, Langford; Central Museum, Southend; East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester and Mangapps Railway Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch.


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Essex is home to over twenty theatres, some of the most popular of which are as follows:


Chelmsford Civic Theatres - Chelmsford

This modern theatre can comfortably seat 500 and features a studio that screens dramas, musicals and films.


Cliffs Pavilion - Southend-on-Sea

This venue is moderately sized and is known for its breath of live performances as well as its panoramic views of Southend.


Mercury Theatre - Colchester

This centre features the best of local talent, putting on shows from local theatre groups as well as comedy and music events.


West Cliff Theatre - Clacton-on-Sea

This venue has plenty of history and today is home to various tribute acts.


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