Colchester Castle Park: A great family day out

Located right in the centre of town, Colchester Castle Park has so much to entertain the whole family. With playgrounds, a sandpit, beautifully maintained rose gardens, an ornamental fish pond and not to mention Colchester Castle itself there is a lot to explore.  If you are yet to visit you must add it to your list of places to go in Essex this year. 

A rolling green hill surrounded by trees and a footpath

Colchester Castle Park is a great place to visit on a sunny day

Visiting Colchester Castle Park

Colchester Castle Park covers nearly 30 acres across Upper Park and Lower Park which are separated by a Roman wall. The Upper Park is closest to the High Street and includes the museums, cafe and playground. The Lower Park has the boating lake, mini golf and is bordered by the River Colne.

Why Colchester Castle Park is a good place to visit with children

  • There are 3 brilliant play areas with a range of equipment to suit all ages.
  • The park surrounds Colchester Castle which is a museum you can visit.
  • There is plenty of green space for running around, kite flying, hill rolling and other games.
  • The boating lake has pedalos for hire.
  • There is a Roman themed mini golf course.
  • Enjoy spotting the fish in the ornamental fish pond.
  • It's right next to Colchester City Centre so easy to combine with shopping or eating out.
  • The park is also home to Hollytrees Museum, a traditional Georgian townhouse with a range of exhibits and interactive displays.
  • Colchester's Natural History Museum (free entry) is a short walk away.

A beautifully maintained rose garden surrounded by a metal fence
The Rose Garden at the entrance of Colchester Castle Park

A large brick building with a sign reading Toilets set aside a concrete area with picnic benches where families are eating their lunch and observing their children in the playground
Toilets and playground in the park

A great pirate ship play area for children
Galleon pirate ship play area

What is there to do at Colchester Castle Park?

There is plenty to explore in Colchester Castle Park. If entering from the High Street past the War Memorial you will find the Visitor Information Centre on your right hand side (if new to the area it might be helpful to drop in to the Tourist Office for more ideas of what to do in Colchester or pick up a map). If you keep the rose garden on your right the ornamental fish pond is just ahead before you get to the Castle. Children will enjoy spotting the fish feeding and coming up to the water's surface. 

Fish in a small pond in Colchester Castle Park
Children love to watch the fish in the ornamental pond

Colchester Castle Park Playground

A little further along the path away from the Castle you will find the playgrounds. These are designed for children up to the age of 14 and there a vast array of equipment to keep all ages happy.  

The playgrounds are divided into three sections, the first section is a smaller preschool area with toddler climbing frame, spring rockers, in ground trampoline, tractor, small slide and swings. 

The area behind that has some more challenging equipment for older kids, a zip line, a fantastic helter skelter slide, monkey bars, tunnel slide and more.  Beside that is the sandpit and wooden galleon themed equipment where wannabe pirates will be in their element. 

Colchester City Council is currently consulting about updating the playground so it is likely to be closed for a period in 2024 while they do work.

On the occasions that we have visited there have been inflatable slides/bouncy castles pitched beside the playground but this may only be weekends and holidays. 

To the left of the playground is the public toilets and Cafe in the Park.

There are picnic benches adjacent to the play areas so you can keep an eye on little ones whilst enjoying a drink from the refreshments kiosk. There is also a ring of large rocks placed conveniently under the shade of the trees centrally within the playground which was much appreciated on the hot, sunny day we visited.

A multi swing in Colchester Castle Park
There are 3 play areas with equipment for different ages

Wooden play ship in Colchester Castle Park Playground
A play ship in the one of the play areas

A sand pit play area in Colchester Castle Park
Sand pit play area

A girl climbing up a climbing frame
Some of the play equipment is planned for an upgrade

Mini Golf 

If you continue North and pass through the Roman wall you will reach Putt in the Park, a Roman themed mini golf course. It has 14 holes and it is open 9am to 8pm (may be reduced hours/ closed in Winter). They have a fully licensed cafe which serves hot and cold food, snacks and drinks.  Find out more and book tickets here

Boating Lake

Also in the Lower Park there is a boating lake where you can hire a paddle boat or pedalo. Their facebook page hasn't been updated for a couple of years, but it looks like it is still running 11am - 4.30pm from April 01 to 31 October, weekends, school holidays and bank holidays only (weather permitting). 

Explore History

There are plenty of signs of Colchester's history throughout the park. From the Castle, which is the largest Norman keep ever built in Europe, Roman town wall and ramparts, remains of Roman Town Houses to more recent history with the World War 2 anti-tank barriers located in the north east corner of Lower Castle Park. The History Trails are a really accessible way for children to learn more about these (there are separate versions for 6 plus and teens).

What age children will enjoy visiting Colchester Castle Park?

Between the fish pond, play areas and mini golf there is something in Colchester Castle Park for all ages. 

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

Yes, those with pushchairs or wheelchairs can follow the paved paths around the park and the playground itself has rubber flooring. There is also a wooden slatted pathway through the sandpit.

Are There Toilet facilities and Baby Changing?

There are toilets and a cafe directly next to the playground however there are also public toilets situated next to the Colchester Visitor Information Centre (beside the castle) if a loo stop is required on the walk back to the car park. 

Toilets close an hour before the park closing time (which varies throughout the year).

Where Can I eat at Colchester Castle Park?

We chose to eat lunch at Cafe in the Park. The baguettes and wraps were delicious and we finished with an ice cream which was equally nice. There is also a little kiosk selling ice-creams. 

You could take your own picnic and use the picnic benches next to the playground or throw a picnic blanket on the grass. 

Alternatively, Colchester city centre has plenty of eateries to choose from including Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamamas and Bill's. Find out where offers discounted meals in school holidays here.

Two plates with sandwiches and salad, one plate has a chicken baguette, the other plate has a sweet chilli chicken wrap.
Enjoy fresh food from the Cafe in the Park

A green kiosk selling ice cream in Colchester Castle Park
Buy ice cream and bouncy castle tickets from the kiosk when open

What you need to know before visiting Colchester Castle Park

The opening hours of the park vary through out the year. It opens at 7.30am and closes between 4pm (December) and 9pm (April to September). Check the opening hours here.

There are large events held in the park though out the year eg Summer Sundays, a Free Family Fun Festival (21st Sept) and Enlightened Light Trail (6th to 24th December). During events some sections of the park can be closed to the public.

Is it dog friendly?

Dogs are not allowed into the Upper Park (where the castle and playgrounds are located) unless they are a service dog.

You can take dogs into the Lower Park but it's requested they are kept under control so they don't chase the wildlife or enter the boating lake and river. 

What to take with you when visiting Colchester Castle Park

  • There are lots of trails you can follow in the park, it's worth printing one off before you visit as a fun structured activity with family, you might even learn something. Check out the trails on the council website here. 
  • Little ones might enjoy bringing a bucket and spade from home to build sandcastles in the sandpit.
  • It is a little bit of a walk from the nearest car park so you might want to bring a pushchair for little legs. Bikes, scooters, skateboards etc are not allowed in the park.

How to get to Colchester Castle Park 

Address: Colchester Castle Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1TJ. 

There are a number of entrances to the park with the main entrance at the end of Colchester High Street next to the Castle. There are also entrances on St Peter's Street, Roman Road, Museum Street and Riverside Walk.

Where To Park for Colchester Castle Park

Colchester Castle Park doesn't have it's own car park so choose from one of the nearby city centre car parks. We parked in the Priory Street car park which was about a 10 minute walk to the park. Payment is via the MiPermit app and this car park is location number 737822.

There are spaces for disabled badge holders by Castle Park in Museum Street and in the High Street.

What to do near Colchester Castle Museum?

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