Culture & Arts
Arts and culture in Suffolk are as varied and inspiring as anywhere in the country, combining new and original theatre, dance, festivals, and numerous galleries and museums – all with a Suffolk twist.
Suffolk was the birthplace of Benjamin Britten, arguably the greatest composer of the 20th century, and as such has a rich music heritage. Britten founded Aldeburgh Music and the Aldeburgh Festival in the 1940s, and both remain cornerstones of Suffolk’s music culture.
Suffolk also has a rich fine art heritage, as the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, Alfred Munnings, and Maggi Hambling. Their legacies live on through Hambling’s controversial sculpture on Aldeburgh beach, Gainsborough House museum in Sudbury, and the landscape of Constable Country. Of the many art galleries in Suffolk, Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich is a must-visit, boasting the largest collection of Constable and Gainsborough works outside of London. Others include the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout, a diminutive gallery by the sea.
Ipswich is also home to DanceEast – the best place to see dance in the East of England – and no less than four excellent theatres. Other theatres in Suffolk include the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, a restored Regency theatre and one of the oldest three playhouses in Britain, and theatres at Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Bungay, Sudbury, and Halesworth.
There are many fantastic museums in Suffolk where you might find yourself milling flour, taking a vintage train along an old Suffolk railway, learning Anglo-Saxon crafts, or even testing your skills as a jockey.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of arts and culture in Suffolk is its sheer number of festivals, among them Latitude Festival (winner of the UK Festival Award for Best Line Up 2015), and the boundary-pushing SPILL Festival of Performance. There is a festival for everyone in Suffolk, whether you love classical music, folk, rock, jazz, art, theatre, poetry, documentaries, comedy, food, or even sea shanties!