It’s official, Reading Festival is no longer the only player in town. Our fair town is now home to a huge list of festivals, big events and fairs, all bringing arts, music, culture and food to Reading. You definitely can’t say there’s nothing to do here now.
Read on for our ultimate guide to all the big music, culture and food festivals and start planning your year of things to do in Reading. Book your tickets now for big festivals including including Craft Theory, Are You Listening Festival, Reading Festival, Readipop and more.
(Main image credit: Trinisinlondon.com)
The biggest events and festivals in Reading
Friday 1st – Saturday 2nd July, South Street Arts Centre, £15, book tickets
The Grumpy Goat, Harris Arcade’s excellent ale and cheese shop (and officially one of our best things in Reading) bring their fun craft beer and music festival back to South Street for the second year. You buy a ticket for one of the three half-day sessions, get a glass on entry and sample some of the craftiest of craft beers in the main theatre room of the arts centre. This year will a local beer showcase with the best of Reading’s breweries on offer: Siren Craft, Double Barrelled, Wild Weather Ales & Elusive Brewing, Phantom Brewing and Dolphin Brewery as well as other national brewers.
There’s also music, cheese and food throughout the weekend.
Are You Listening Festival
Saturday 7 May, various venues, £33, buy tickets
Reading’s real best music festival, AYL is now in its sixth year and is bringing one of its strongest line ups yet this April in support of Reading Mencap. The one day festival features nearly 70 bands, some of the biggest UK names and Reading’s best local acts, playing at venues across town, from Sub89 to St Laurence Church. This year includes Alfie Templeman, Animal House, Anorak Patch, Aphra Taylor, As Loud As A Mouse and others.
The carnival is having a year off in 2022. Check their Facebook page for updates on 2023.
The most colourful day of the Reading calendar is back with a bang for 2018. After a few years off, the carnival returned last year and in 2018 celebrates its 41st anniversary with a festival of dance, culture and community. The carnival itself parades through town, along the Oxford Road and up to Prospect Park, where there’s an afternoon long festival with Caribbean food stalls, drinks, creative workshops, music, live performers and more. Reading has a wide and varied Caribbean community, and reportedly, the largest Bajan population outside of Barbados. Reading Carnival is a fun and vibrant celebration of all our town’s diversity and community and we’re glad to see it back.
Dates for 2022 haven’t yet been announced, Broad Street, Free entry, read more
Once a year, our high street becomes a celebration of street food organised by Reading BID. There’s usually a whole fleet of food stalls running from the Halifax down to Marks & Spencer, and big bench eating in the middle of it all. Last year the organisers ramped up the food efforts by partnering with Blue Collar Street Food. Let’s hope it continues for 2022.
East Reading Festival
Sunday 26 June, Palmer Park, Free entry, read more
This local community festival is a fun family day out in Palmer Park with music, games and live performances. It’s setup to encourage the people of East Reading to get to know each other a little better, and that sounds like a good thing.
Friday 8-Sunday 10 July, Christchurch Meadows, £49.50/weekend, under 14s free, buy tickets
Our town’s other three-day, family-friendly celebration of music returns to Christchurch Meadows after two years away with a line up including Morcheeba, the Sugar Hill Gang and Badly Drawn Boy, as well as a host of local and smaller acts. There’s also community stalls, music workshops and food. Plus this year there is an in conversation session with Stephen Morris (New Order/Joy Division) and Richard Jobson (The Skids)
Reading Fringe Festival
TBC |Read more
Reading’s premiere theatre and arts extravaganza took a break in 2021badter an all digital event in 2020. News for 2022 has yet to be updated, but the Fringe is our most outstanding festival of drama, stand-up comedy, and quirky theatre performances. It features acts heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe, local performers, travelling theatre troupes, comedies and more.
Friday 26 – Sunday 28 August, Richfield Avenue, only Sunday tickets still available, buy tickets
The granddaddy of our festival scene, Reading Festival is creaking slightly under its age but is still the biggest music event in town. The line up is has Dave, Rage Against the Machine and Arctic Monkeys headlining, with Little Simz and Run the Jewels as more exciting additions.
Saturday 3 September, King’s Meadow, free entry, read more
Reading Pride puts on its annual celebration to our town’s LGBT+ community, diversity and openness for all. Join the parade through Reading town centre before heading to King’s Meadow for a vibrant, colourful and welcoming day-long festival. There’ll be performances, a bar, a marketplace, food stalls and a truly delightful atmosphere all around.
Heritage Open Days
Friday 9 – Sunday 18 September, various locations, read more
See inside some of Reading’s hidden historic buildings with this national campaign dedicated to heritage. Properties all across Reading, including the Crown Court, the Concert Hall and the offices of Rowberry Morris on Castle Street (pictured) will open to the public for free tours, visits and walks. There are also walking tours of our some of our most interesting conservation areas, including Castle Hill, Christchurch and St Peter’s in Caversham.
Saturday 17 September, the Market House, free entry, read more
2017 saw Reading’s first celebration to all things plant-based take to St Laurence Church with hot food counters, a marketplace of vegan-friendly ingredients and goods including handbags and beauty products and a huge influx of vegans to Reading town centre. It proved so popular that last year, as with this year, the organising team have spread it across the Town Hall, St Laurence, Market House Bar and Market Place to accommodate the crowds and there will be a bigger selection of stalls and series of educational talks about vegan lifestyles
Hello! I'm Claire, the founding editor of Explore Reading. I'm a Reading native and former digital director of Time Out Shanghai. I founded Explore Reading so no one can say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again. When not editing Explore Reading, I'm probably drinking a Manhattan.