The Firstsite building - shown from the outside
  • The Firstsite building - shown from the outside
  • The Firstsite cinema - rows of theatre style seats, a projector shines down directly into the camera lens
  • Firstsite cinema, showing rows of theatre style seating leading down to the big screen
  • A Firstsite team members welcomes visitors at the Firstsite Welcome Desk.
  • The Firstsite welcome area

Book Tickets Online


Winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021, Firstsite is an international gallery and creative community space, open all year round, for free, for everyone. See the world differently – experience the very best art and culture from around the world that inspires, empowers and opens your mind.

Throughout our exceptional artistic and cultural activities, enjoyed by all in a fun and inclusive environment, from exhibitions to community events, talks and lectures to holiday fun activities, we provide a programme that celebrates the diverse and radical people of East Anglia and invite everyone to be part of our creative community.

Our unique and curved building, designed by Rafael Vinoly, creates an environment like no other. Its dramatic frontage leads through to stunning gallery and studio spaces and has a unique versatility which makes it perfect for events as well as a fun and inspirational space to immerse yourself in art, culture and creativity.

Firstsite Shop

Stocking a wide variety of design-led and affordable products, the Firstsite shop is fully accessible and located in the gallery foyer adjacent to the Welcome desk. Our team will be available to help you with your purchase Monday to Sunday

Firstsite Café

Relax in our light and airy café with outdoor balcony seating.

Book Tickets

Guide Prices

Firstsite is open for free, for everyone.



  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Autism Friendly
  • Disabled access
  • Disabled toilets
  • Ear defenders available
  • Facilities for hearing impaired
  • Wheelchairs available

Booking & Payment Details

  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)
  • Free Entry


  • On-site catering
  • On-site light refreshments
  • Picnic site


  • Baby changing facilities
  • Children welcome

COVID-19 Response

  • Clear signage
  • Contactless payment possible
  • COVID-19 measures in place - Arriving at Firstsite There is no need to book, however our team will be carefully monitoring the number of visitors in the building. At busier timers you may be asked to queue. Please ask a member of our team for a seat if you are unable to stand for prolonged periods. As Essex is in the High Tier COVID alert level, please only visit with members of your household or support bubble. All visitors are required to provide their contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace programme. Your name and telephone number will be held securely for 21 days, and will not be shared or used for marketing purposes. Following the change in legislation, we can only welcome visitors in groups of up to 6 people, unless you are from the same household or support bubble. Please contact us before your visit if you are unsure about the size of your group. We ask that all visitors to wear a face covering during their visit, if they are able to do so. You will not need to wear a face covering when seated in our Café or in the Holiday Fun canteen, and children under the age of 11 won’t be required to wear one anywhere in the building. At Firstsite we respect that not everyone is able to wear a face covering, and we are happy to support all our visitors during their visit. We are unable to provide cloakroom facilities (for luggage and coats etc) at this time. Shop & Welcome Desk Perspex screens will be in place at the shop till and our Welcome desk to protect you and our team. When entering the shop, please wear a mask in accordance with Government legislation. There will be hand sanitiser for you to use, and gloves will also be available if you wish to wear them. A one-way system will be in place, and members of our team will monitor how many people are in the shop at any one time. Only credit or debit card payments can be made, using contactless payment where possible. If you do not have a contactless payment card, the card machine will be cleaned after use. During your visit ‘Keep left’ pathways and upright signage guide you through our one way system, and members of our team are there to guide you in our new way of visiting. We ask that you maintain a distance of 2 metres from other visitors, and observe any signage. The number of visitors in our exhibitions are closely monitored by our team, so please be aware there may be waiting times at busy periods. Exhibition spaces are cleaned daily, and hand sanitising stations are provided throughout the building. Our toilets are cleaned and monitored throughout the day, with limited capacity at any one time to enable social distancing. Café Our café has moved to the rear of the building so that we can maintain social distancing and provide safe table service to customers. Please follow the directional signage, or ask a member of staff to show you the way. Upon arriving at the café you will be seated and provided with table service. Your server will be equipped with Personal Protective Equipment. Customers can enjoy our outdoor balcony seating area, or relax inside in our light and airy restaurant area surrounded by artwork which can be purchased in our shop. Please only visit the cafe with people from your household or support bubble. We are only able to accept card payments at this time. If you are unable to make a contactless payment, the card machine will be cleaned after the keypad is used. Cinema Our Cinema has new seating arrangements to help maintain social distancing. Following the latest Government legislation, we ask that you wear a face covering whilst in the cinema, if you are able to do so. When entering the cinema, we ask that you sanitise your hands, then follow a member of our team to your seats. A one way system will be in place to ensure your safety. The cinema will be cleaned following each screening. We kindly ask that you please take your rubbish with you. Venue Hire Bookings will be reviewed on a case by case basis, due to us limiting the number of people in the building. Our hire spaces will be cleaned between each booking, and those attending the hire will be required to wear face masks.
  • COVID-19 risk assessment completed
  • COVID-19 staff training completed
  • Food available during COVID-19 restrictions
  • Hand sanitizer available to visitors & staff
  • Hygiene screens in place
  • Online booking possible
  • Open now
  • Outside seating
  • Paid stay-at-home policy for staff with symptoms
  • Regularly sanitised high-traffic areas
  • Staff required to regularly wash hands


  • Education/study area
  • Facilities for educational visits
  • Facilities for groups

Meeting, Conference & Wedding Facilities

  • Bar area
  • Board/Flipchart
  • Facilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitality
  • Grounds for outdoor activities

Property Facilities

  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)
  • Gift shop
  • Onsite Catering
  • Public toilets
  • Smoking not allowed
  • WiFi or internet access

Site Features

  • Regional Tourist Board Member
  • Welcome Host


  • School Trips

Target Markets

  • Accepts groups
  • Coach parties accepted
  • Eco-Friendly

Map & Directions

Road Directions

By bike Cycle racks are available outside Firstsite. Helmets and equipment can be left in our free cloakroom in our Welcome Area. To view the Colchester cycle map and find out more information about cycling in Colchester, visit the Cycle Colchester website. Walking Firstsite is just a short walk from Colchester’s High Street and can be reached via a walkway off Queen Street, by the Curzon Cinema, or via Lewis Gardens.

By car There is good access to Colchester from all parts of the country via the A12, A120, M25 and A14. To reach the town centre by road, exit the A12 at junction 27 and follow signs to the town centre. Firstsite offers parking for disabled visitors only; there is no on-site parking. Disabled parking bays are allocated on a first come, first served basis – please call 01206 713 700 when planning your visit so we can ensure easy access. Outside the building entrance is a drop-off point for cars and coaches and special access for disabled visitors, this is accessible from Lewis Gardens. We are a short walk from all Colchester’s town centre car parks, the nearest car parks are Priory Street and Britannia. Find out more about parking in Colchester town centre.

Public Transport Directions

By bus The High Street, Queen Street and East Hill are well served by many local bus routes with bus stops just a few minutes’ walk from Firstsite. Queen Street Stop Jc, just by the Curzon Cinema, is our nearest bus stop. This is served by bus routes 64, 64A and 65. Firstsite is also just a 10-minute walk from Colchester’s bus station on Osborne Street. For bus times, check Network Colchester’s website or phone 01206 877620 and Essex County Council’s Interactive Bus and Train map. By rail Journey time from London Liverpool Street to Colchester is approximately 50 minutes on Greater Anglia services with trains running every hour. Firstsite is a few minutes’ walk from Colchester Town Station via Queens Street. Walking from Colchester mainline station takes approx. 25 minutes or short a bus ride. Taxis are also available from outside the station. For more information or to plan your route, please visit National Rail Enquiries. Park and Ride Alight at the High Street stop, Firstsite is just 5 minutes’ walk long the High Street and onto Queen Street. Find out more about Colchester’s Park and Ride. By coach A drop-off point for coaches is situated outside the front of the building – this is accessible from Lewis Gardens. The Colchester Borough Council run car park on Sheepen Road can accommodate coaches. Accessible by Public Transport: Colchester Town station is 1 mile away.


Type:Art Gallery

Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1JH

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Tel+44 (0)1206 713 700


  • Other AwardsSelf-assessed Accessibility Information Self-assessed Accessibility Information 2020
  • Visit EnglandVistEngland VAQAS Gold VistEngland VAQAS Gold 2018
  • Regional and MiscellaneousMuddy Stilettos – Award 2022 Muddy Stilettos – Award 2022 2022

Opening Times

* Our galleries are open every day from 10am – 5pm, but we also have many other areas to Firstsite which are open throughout the evening.

Welcome area and Box Office
Mon–Sun: 9am–9pm

Art Gallery
Mon–Sun: 10am–5pm

Firstsite Shop
Mon–Sun: 10am–5pm

Mon–Sun: 10am–5pm

Box Office
You can book tickets for our cinema and events online, in person or over the phone.

In person at our Welcome Desk at the entrance (Mon–Sun: 9am-9pm)

By telephone: 01206 713 700 (Mon–Sun: 9am–9pm)

By email:

Annual Closures
Firstsite is closed on 25& 26 December and 1 January.

Exhibition changeovers
Firstsite offers a vibrant programme of changing exhibitions. This does mean that at times a gallery space may be closed as a new exhibition is in the process of being installed. However, the programme is planned to ensure closure of a space is kept to a minimum and that there is always an exhibition open to the public.

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