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Ipswich Guide to Local Arts & Culture

Your guide to the best in local arts and culture

Ipswich is a town of culture. It has one of the world’s finest dance studios, a well-maintained Tudor Mansion, a number of theatres, art galleries, and festivals that are planned across the calendar year to keep you engaged and entertained, and coming back for more.

Christchurch Mansion

christchurch park

Address: Christchurch Park, Soane Street, Ipswich, IP4 2BE

Telephone: 01473 433554

Description: Christchurch Mansion is a beautiful example of a Mansion from the Tudor era. It is widely considered to be one of the jewels in the crown of Ipswich’s history. With over 500 years of history there is much to see and explore at the wonderful mansion. There are helpful fact sheets placed in each room and there are always a number of helpful and informative staff on hand to help fill in the gaps. When you’ve completed your visit, take time out for refreshments in the Mansion Café, and don’t forget to make time for a stroll around the stunning Christchurch Park which is home to many events throughout the year.

Additional Information: It is free to enter Christchurch Mansion. At certain times during the year additional events are planned, including activities for children. Opening times vary across the year, so please check the website before planning your visit.



Address: Jerwood DanceHouse, Foundry Lane, Ipswich, IP4 1DW

Telephone: 01473 295230

Description: DanceEast is located at Ipswich Waterfront, at the Jerwood DanceHouse. Regarded as one of the best dance houses in the UK, its performances are equally of the highest quality. With a full programme of events scheduled throughout the year you will be enthralled by the wide range of performances, drawn from a worldwide stage. DanceEast is so much more than what is presented in the theatre – they bring dance to people in schools, hospices and sheltered housing. Working with people from all walks of life; from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special needs, they’re privileged to see how dance changes lives every day.

Additional Information: DanceEats is attached to DanceEast and offers a great selection of food and drink. DanceEast also holds regular dance and fitness classes for adults and children; it also has a programme of student training and artist development.

Eastern Angles Theatre Group

 eastern angles theatre

Address: Gatacre Road, Ipswich, IP1 2LQ

Telephone: 01473 211948

Description: The Sir John Mills Theatre is home to the Eastern Angles Regional Touring Theatre Company. The theatre itself seats a maximum of 120, and its intimate layout provides a unique theatre experience unlike no other. Formed in 1982, Eastern Angles has blazed a trail across the East of England and Ipswich, becoming a national model of excellence for rural touring before expanding to include national touring, Edinburgh Festival visits and site-specific work. Most recently it has extended its work to Peterborough and is working on delivering a five year plan for theatre development in the city.

Additional Information: The Sir John Mills Theatre is also used by local amateur societies such as The Gallery Players, Two Rivers and Up Front Productions. Occasionally there are music and comedy evenings by professional performers.

Indian Summer Mela

indian summer mela

Address: Christchurch Park, Soane Street, Ipswich, IP4 2BE

Description: The Indian Summer Mela is a celebration of the Asian culture. An event that is a collaboration between the Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association and Ip-Art the one day event includes music, songs, Bollywood dancing, yoga and Tai-Chi, demonstrations as well as an array of Indian food outlets. A really colourful and vibrant celebration of Asian culture, the day is frequently popular. Spend the day exploring and enjoying the exciting expression of Asian Culture at this family friendly festival. The Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association who organise the event is a charitable community groups which is run by an Executive committee.

Additional Information: The Indian Mela is free to attend, and is suitable for all the family.

Ipswich Arts Association Town Lectures and Concerts

ipswich arts association

Address: Museum Street Methodist Church, Black Horse Lane, IP1 2EF

Telephone: 01473 251208

Description: The Town Lectures and Concerts are organised by the Ipswich Arts Association, and take place at lunchtime, and have been affectionately known by locals as the lunchtime lectures and concerts. Lectures focus on aspects of local history and culture, in contrast to the concerts where artists and performers are from across the globe. This annual series of popular lectures presents Ipswich, its history and cultural background through the eyes of Suffolk-based speakers. The series incorporates performances from local musicians presenting different styles of music through the ages. All the events take place at lunchtime on Thursdays at Museum Street Methodist Church (entrance in Black Horse Lane), Ipswich. Each event starts at 1.00pm and ends at 1.50pm.

Additional Information: Town lectures are concerts run from 1-1.50pm, no booking is required, but numbers are limited. Tea and coffee is available prior to each event. There is also a retiring collection to support expenses.

Ipswich Film Theatre

 Ipswich film theatre

Address: Corn Exchange, King Street, Ipswich, IP1 1HD

Description: Are you a film fan? If you are looking for a film theatre which differs from the multiplex cinema experience that many are used too, then you must take a visit to the Ipswich Film Theatre in Ipswich. A community-based not-for-profit two screen cinema organisation run mainly by volunteers, Ipswich Film Theatre is located in the Corn Exchange and specialises in independent and world cinema. Each of the two cinema screens in the theatre are small and intimate giving you a unique cinematic experience that varies from your stereotypical cinema. The theatre shows a great variety of films throughout the year.

Additional Information: Ipswich Film Theatre is fully accessible with lift and stairclimber access to both screens.

Ipswich Maritime Festival & Waterfront Celebration

maritime ipswich

Address: Neptune Quay and Orwell Quay, Ipswich Waterfront

Description: In celebration of its maritime history Ipswich proudly puts on a celebration of maritime events and activities. From displays and exhibitions, markets and music, the festival attracts people from far and wide. Many of the exhibitions and displays are free to attend, and the event is suitable for adults and children alike. During the Ipswich Maritime Festival we can be assured of a wide range of activities. The festival includes re-enactments and fireworks as well as a compliment of visiting vessels and a varied programme of activities for everyone.

Additional Information: Keep up to date with what is planned for the Festival by logging on to the Ipswich Town & Waterfront website where you will discover the latest information on what is happening.

Ipswich Museum

ipswich museum

Address: High Street, Ipswich, IP1 3QH

Telephone: 01473 433550

Description: Discover the history of Ipswich; learn about the discovery of the famous woolly mammoth, the castle on the hill, as well as the history of wartime Ipswich. The museum also includes an extensive collection of natural history, enabling you to get up close with animals including the giraffe, and study rocks and precious gems excavated from the local area. Explore Ipswich’s past with stories that will inspire you. This fascinating and unique museum gives you the opportunity to meet the famous woolly mammoth, the elegant towering giraffe and other wonderful curiosities from the natural world.

Additional Information: Entrance to the museum is free. There is a small gift shop within the museum, and throughout the year the museum puts on themed activities for children. Please check the website for further information.

Ipswich Music Day (Music in the Park)

ipswich music in the park

Address: Christchurch Park, Soane Street, Ipswich, IP4 2BE

Description: Ipswich Music Day, part of the Ip-Art Festival, takes place on the first Sunday of July. Christchurch Park becomes completely unrecognisable with six stages, each one hosting a day full of performances, covering different genres, with supporting entertainment including, fairground rides, children’s activities, stalls and a variety of food will be on offer. It’s the perfect setting for an enjoyable, exciting day out with family and friends. Ipswich Music Day, one of the largest free one-day music events in the UK. The event will feature a selection of the brightest talents to be found in East Anglia and will span almost every type of music.

Additional Information: Music in the Park is a free event, suitable for all the family. We recommend you pack a picnic, something to drink, a blanket to sit on and enjoy this unique experience.

Ipswich Town Hall

ipswich town hall

Address: The Cornhill, Ipswich, IP1 1DH

Description: Ipswich Town Hall England was constructed in 1878 at a cost of £16,000 and opened by Mr John Patterson Cobbold, the mayor of Ipswich at the time. The Town Hall and the adjoining Corn Exchange was created in a typical, grand Victorian architecture style. The focal point of the town centre, this impressive building stands proud at the Cornhill. Open to the public you can admire the architecture inside and out. The Town Hall houses two art galleries, and is home to the Suffolk Craft Society. Whether for a private function, corporate event, business meeting or networking over coffee and cake, the Town Hall and Corn Exchange can provide for all your needs in a historic setting.

Additional Information: The Town Hall, the Town Hall Café and the Suffolk Craft Society are open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Entrance is free. A detailed description of the history of the Town Hall can be accessed via the above link.

New Wolsey Theatre

new wolsey theatre

Address: Civic Drive, Ipswich, IP1 2AS

Telephone: 01473 295900

Description: Seating 400, this great theatre is located in the centre of Ipswich. Attracting audiences from far and wide, it is also a favourite amongst local people. Productions include one night shows to pantomimes, drama, comedy and music. You can even book yourself in for a back-stage tour and get a real feel of what it is like to stand on the stage. The New Wolsey Theatre’s aim is to combine their own productions, projects, collaborations with other partners and touring work, to create a programme of performances and creative learning projects of the highest quality, maximum diversity and greatest possible accessibility, within a sound and sustainable financial framework.

Additional Information: The New Wolsey Theatre is fully accessible, with Infra Red Hearing Enhancement, Touch Tours and Audio Described performances.

The Pacitti Company

pacitti thinktank

Address: The Victorian Wing, 1 Upper High Street, IP1 3QH

Telephone: 01473 216545

Description: The Think Tank is home to the internationally renowned Pacitti Company. From here a number of local, national and international events are hosted. Local events are led by artists and experts. Events include discussion around live art, performance and cultural projects. The Pacitti Company Think Tank is a new building based resource for the ongoing public exploration and study of live performance and associated industries, housed in the specially refurbished Victorian Wing of the Ipswich Museum and Art School Gallery. The Think Tank is also an incubator space that enables artists to spend time in residence, investigate crossovers with radical art practices and culture at large, and to engage with peers and members of the public.

Additional Information: Public events are affordable, and some are free to attend. Artists are also able to use the space at the ThinkTank, for their own work, as well as to engage with peers and members of the public.

Pulse Festival

pulse festival

Address: Across Ipswich

Description: The Pulse Fringe Festival is a major event for Ipswich and surrounding areas bringing in people from all over the country. This 10 day event focuses on the best in new and emerging talent, bringing together contemporary theatre and performance. During the Festival there is a full programme reaching out to people of different ages, backgrounds and covering a wide genre of expression. Pulse Festival has presented work from the following creative companies (and many, many more): Gecko, Talking Birds, Lucy Ellinson, Action Hero, Made in China, Caroline Horton, Victoria Melody, Chris Goode, Daniel Bye, and Chris Thorpe. Don’t miss out on this amazing event.

Additional Information: When the programme is finalised full details will be shared on the Ipswich Town and Waterfront events page in the lead up to each annual event.

Red Rose Chain

red rose chain

 Address: Gippeswyk Hall, Gippeswyk Avenue, Ipswich, IP2 9AF

Telephone: 01473 603388

Description: The Red Rose Chain are an award-winning, independent theatre company with a strong sense of community at the heart of everything they do. If you’ve not experienced the Red Rose Chain before you’re in for a real treat. This contemporary theatre company creates original performances based on own writings and works from Shakespeare. The Red Rose Chain is a dynamic award-winning theatre company which has a well-established reputation for delivering work for the whole community. Completely independent and self-sustaining, they create original productions that confront social issues, often working with overlooked or hard-to-reach groups to create powerful and insightful stories that demand to be told.

Additional Information: The Red Rose Chain is famous for its Theatre in the Forest Productions which take place at Jimmy’s Farm.

St Peters by the Waterfront

st peters by the waterfront

Address: College Street, Ipswich, IP1 1XF

Telephone: 01473 225269

Description: Another of Ipswich’s 13 mediaeval churches that has seen a transformation and change of use is St Peters. Much of the original façade has been maintained, and the church building is now used as a music and arts venue, with a number of events and performances across the year. St. Peter’s is one of the oldest buildings in Ipswich. The present structure was built in 1460 on the site of a church that dates back over a 1000 years. There are some magnificent stained glass windows on view, the medieval nave roof is quite unique and a surviving brass is on display. There is a lot of information about the history of the church and the parish on 8 display boards including the time when Cardinal Wolsey took over the church in the 15th century as part of his adjacent school. The surviving gateway still stands right next to the church on the south side in College Street.

Additional Information: St Peters by the Waterfront also hosts a number of craft events and markets, and every Wednesday the centre is used for musical rehearsals which can be observed by the public. Opening times vary across the year.

UCS Waterfront Gallery

university of suffolk

Address: UCS, Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, IP4 1QJ

Description: A collection of changing contemporary art sited within the University Campus Suffolk Waterfront building showing a range of exhibitions throughout the year. The space is used for exhibitions of work by students, staff and artists locally and wider afield. The Gallery is located within the main UCS Waterfront Building. It is facing onto the scenic Ipswich Waterfront. The exhibition space is adjacent to the vibrant Theta Cafe, which offers a selection of refreshments to be enjoyed while experiencing the art and the impressive waterfront view. Entrance to the Waterfront Gallery is free and all are welcome. The Gallery is currently open from Monday to Friday.

Additional Information: The gallery is open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, and Saturdays 11am to 3pm. There is an adjacent café which overlooks the stunning Ipswich Waterfront.

Wolsey Art Gallery

wolsey art gallery

Address: Christchurch Mansion, Soane Street, Ipswich, IP4 2BE

Description:  The Wolsey Art Gallery is home to largest collection of works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable outside of London. Based inside the glorious Christ Church Tudor Mansion, everyone is welcome to explore and view completed works and sketches by two of the world’s most highly regarded artists. Admire the works which were inspired by the Suffolk countryside. The Gallery also hosts events throughout the year like appearances by historical characters, craft and art workshops, tours, talks, quizzes and much more.

Additional Information: Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. Entry to the Wolsey Art Gallery is free.

Jazz by the Waterfront

jazz by the waterfront

Address: College Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1XF

Web: Jazz by the Waterfront

Telephone: 01473 225269

Description: Do you love Jazz? Well you’re in for a treat at St Peter’s by the Waterfront, in the intimate surroundings you can enjoy live Jazz music on a regular basis! Monthly events from a variety of performers from big bands to soulful singers. St Peter’s by the Waterfront hosts a range of artists from locally known artists to more widely known acts. The church transform to a groovy music venue in the evenings, the venue makes for quite an experience with great acoustics. Jazz by the Waterfront has acts lined up throughout the year for your musical pleasure, old favourites and local new artists are the type of acts you can expect.

Additional Information: The best way to purchase tickets is through their website, events normally take place in the evenings.

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