NEXT week sees the return of Colchester’s very popular Real Ale and Cider Festival.

It will be the Colchester branch of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (Camra) 31st such event, which offers drinkers the chance to sample more than 150 real ales, many from local breweries and microbrewers.

Among the local producers represented are the Mersea Island Brewery, the Harwich Town Brewing Company, Coggeshall-based brewery Red Fox and the Colchester Brewery Company, based in Wakes Colne.

The festival will also feature ciders and perries (ciders made from pears) from around the country, a Belgian bar selling specialist continental beers and wines from the Mersea Island Vineyard.

Hot and cold food will be on offer at all sessions and free soft drinks will be available for nominated drivers.

There’s also live music, which comes courtesy of Emma Dean on the Tuesday and Revolver playing covers from the Sixties right up to modern-day on the Saturday.

This year's festival logo celebrates the town's Roman Heritage and the Roman theme continues with St Helena Hospice as this year's charity, St Helena being the patron saint of the town and the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.

The festival takes place at the Colchester Arts Centre in Church Street, Tuesday to Saturday, May 31 to June 4.

Doors open from noon and the festival runs until 11pm. Entry is free from noon to 3pm, and £3 afterwards.