COLCHESTER was a masterpiece of colour and culture when 64 bands wowed crowds across more than a dozen stages as part of a free festival.

Returning for its fifth year, Big Sunday is one of the town’s biggest offerings of entertainment and talent.

Music and culture from across the world was on display, including bands playing across pubs and bars.

In the international arena, Indian, Gurkha, samba, salsa and African drumming gave visitors a range of music to enjoy.

A highlight at this year’s festival was Mrs Pankhurst’s Tea Party, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Votes for Women movement.

Held at Firstsite gallery, the festival within the festival featured a visit from Essex University’s Pamela Cox, who introduced inspirational women including playwright Nicola Werenowska.

An international choir gave a performance and there was a stirring Suffragette speech from EastEnders and Holby City actor Carli Norris.

Organiser Dorian Kelly said the vast array of musical talent made it impossible to watch every show, but there were performances across the Castle Inn, the Paitto cafe, The Brewhouse and The Three Wise Monkeys.

These included theatrical, comedy and spoken word acts.

Organiser Dorian Kelly said: “Somebody said it was like being on the continent, a loose family affair where everybody had a wonderful time whether they where aged 90 or four.

“I have never seen so many smiles on so many faces.

“It was truly a present from artists across the Colchester to the people.

“Firstsite had record attendance numbers, more people through their door than they’ve ever had.

“The important people to thank are the musicians and artists, who gave their time and their love of music and culture to the town.”

Made in Colchester settled into the Minories art gallery garden, where artists, designers and sculptors sold their work and shared their passion.

There was food and drink from all over the world at a special street food market in the Cultural Quarter, while a youth stage gave eight young bands from Essex Music Education Hub the chance to shine.

A digital gamer’s bus gave youngsters free access to 30 state of the art consoles and two virtual reality rooms.