A NEW three-week long arts festival is looking to cement Colchester’s place as the the cultural capital of Essex.

Organised by tourism group Destination Colchester the inaugural A Festival of Colchester kicks off on Friday.

Within a few years time the group hopes the event will be comparable with Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The project has the backing of Colchester Council, the town’s main cultural venues and will feature more than 100 different events over 24 days.

Simon Taylor, chairman of Destination Colchester, said: “We started out with the intention of focusing on nursery rhymes, legends and storytelling, but there were so many high quality events we didn’t want to leave out and we had some brilliant event organisers asking if they could be included as well.

“So, while we’ve still got a strong folklore theme, what we have ended up with really does showcase the great place that Colchester is for enjoying the arts, culture and heritage. There really is something for everyone.”

The events programme includes indoor and outdoor theatre, film, guided tours, poetry readings, ghost hunts, comedy and music.

Colchester Oyster Fishery will also open and the first weekend of the ever popular Heritage Open Days falls within the festival.

Highlights include live screenings of acclaimed author Margaret Atwood in conversation and Fleabag, the award-winning one-woman show which inspired the hit BBC series, both at Firstsite.

Promenade play The Gift will tell the story of Colchester Castle’s renovation in Georgian times in the surroundings of Castle Park.

In Beyond the Visible, Professor Marina Warner will explore the work of contemporary artists like Paula Rego, Helen Chadwick and Kiki Smith within the context of fairy tales.

Festival programmes are now available from the Visitor Information Centre, Colchester Arts Centre, Firstsite and dozens of other town centre businesses.

Visit AFOC2019.events.