Discover Chelmsford city

Marconi statue in Chelmsford

Chelmsford has its very own personality and huge appeal for a compact city just 35 minutes from London. It's known as the birthplace of radio, thanks to its connection with Guglielmo Marconi who opened the world's first wireless factory here in 1899. 

From first-class cricket to being home to one of the world’s best international music festivals, you’ll be surprised to discover what Chelmsford has to offer. As a student here, it won’t take you long to get used to the friendly, laidback atmosphere the city exudes. Small enough to never overwhelm but big enough to explore and discover your own highlights, Chelmsford is a city that quickly feels like home.

Top ten things to see and do in Chelmsford

One of the best things about Chelmsford is its size. It’s compact, and easy to explore on foot or by bike.

With so much to see and do it can be hard to pick out the highlights, but we think you’ll like:

  • exploring the shops and restaurants in Baddow Road
  • partying at the annual V and Fling music festivals
  • taking in theatre shows, comedy, film and dance at the Civic and Cramphorn theatres
  • indulging your inner gourmet at the weekly food fair on the High Street
  • nosing around the 800-year-old retail market
  • exploring the collections at the Chelmsford Museum, nestled in the heart of Oaklands Park
  • visiting historic Hylands Park, whose house and grounds you can explore for hours
  • getting active at Riverside Ice and Leisure or one of the many sports venues around the city
  • enjoying some serious window shopping on Bond Street, Chelmsford's newest retail development
  • relaxing in open spaces such as Central Park, Hylands Park and Oaklands Park.

Soulful art and culture

For art and culture there really is something for everyone.

There’s a number of live music venues in and around the city that showcase up and coming bands as well as established acts. Every summer, Chelmsford plays hosts to the world-famous V Festival at Hylands Park. V is complemented by the Fling Festival in July, and the Chelmsford Beer and Cider Festival.

Film-lovers can catch the latest releases in the multi-screen Odeon cinema, and the boutique Everyman Cinema on Bond Street.

In the city centre, the Civic and Cramphorn theatres both show a varied programme of theatre, comedy, music, dance and film. If you're a bit of a thespian yourself, you could think about treading the boards with one of Chelmsford's well-regarded amateur theatre groups, such as Chelmsford Theatre Workshop or Theatre at Baddow.

Visit Essex has information about local arts events.

Appetising food and drink

When it comes to food and drink, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets in Chelmsford.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with names including Giraffe, Wildwood, Prezzo, Pizza Express, Café Rogue, Zizzi and many more. If you’re looking for something a little different you won’t be disappointed either, there’s a wealth of independent restaurants that cater for every palette and many cuisines – try making Baddow Road your first port of call. The city is also well-equipped in the café department with everything from a great stop for a fry-up to the quintessential afternoon tea – pop in to Small Talk Tearooms or Tea on the Green for great tea and cake.

The city and surrounding villages are also home to some of the best pubs in the region, most serving lunches and dinners. The Lion Inn in Boreham is always good for delicious food and a great atmosphere. And don’t forget the Gourmet Food Fair that’s on in the high street every Friday and Saturday.

Chelmsford For You has a handy search tool that can help you find the perfect place to eat.

First-class shopping

Everyone's talking about Chelmsford's new Bond Street development, which is home to a number of big-name stores including John Lewis, Foyles, The White Company and Cath Kidston. There’s also the well-stocked high street and two shopping arcades, The Meadowsand High Chelmer, where you’ll find everything you could possibly want or need.

Baddow Road is home to the majority of independent shops and boutiques. There's also Moulsham Street for quirky shops and cool pubs, and the odd hidden gem tucked away in the side streets so make sure you explore. Right in the centre near the High Chelmer shopping centre is the 800-year-old retail market which is an absolute treat. You can get just about anything at the market which is open Tuesday-Saturday and well worth a look.

Energising sports facilities

Whether you just want to have fun and keep fit, or if you're more serious about competing, there's plenty of opportunity to get involved in sport in Chelmsford.

Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre is the city's sporting hub with facilities that include swimming pools, a gym and an ice rink (where the Chelmsford Chieftains ice hockey team play). We’ve got a good partnership with the centre which offers our students reduced rates on memberships. You can also take full advantage of Chelmsford’s Sport and Athletics Centre with its athletics facilities, sports hall ad fitness suite – it’s popular with elite athletes and non-professional folk, too.

Alternatively, if being on the water is more your thing Chelmsford has one of the oldest canoe clubs in the country. Established in 1946 it has around 400 members and the team runs introductory courses in the spring and summer for newcomers to give it a try.

It goes without saying that we're a cricket-loving city where Essex County Cricket Club plays its home games. The Essex First Team Squad includes famous names like England Captain Alastair Cook, Graham Napier and Monty Panesar.

On campus there’s loads of social sport going on every day, run by our Active Anglia team. You can join turn-up-and-play sessions in football, netball, table tennis, running and much more. There's also a great range of fitness classes in our gym.

Visit us in Chelmsford

Interested in discovering Chelmsford for yourself? Come along and explore. Book on to one of our open days or join one of our weekly campus tours. We’d love to welcome you to our campus.