The best things to do in Reading in September

Claire Slobodian

September is here and it’s bringing with it lots of events to get stuck into now you’re back from your holidays. After a bit of a hot, lethargic August, it’s time to get out your pencil cases and start circling everything you want to do in Reading this month, because, trust me, there is a LOT worth doing, including the return of the cultural Reading on Thames Festival, the Vegan Festival and Heritage Open Days. There’s also the launch of Reading’s first indie market, a heap of gigs and a film festival about the ocean. Go, Explore!

Events in Reading in September 2018

Reading Pride

Reading Pride

Saturday 1 September, 10.30am-6.30pm, Pride March from Queen’s Walk, Festival at King’s Meadow, Free

Support Reading’s LGBT+ community and join in the 15th Reading Pride for their theme of ‘Love Unites’. The traditional Pride march is set to be a spectacle of noise and colour through town, and the all day festival is the biggest yet, with charity and community stalls and two stages of stages of live music, cabaret and performers, including Reading’s own Sum Ting Wong. It’s all MC’d by the fantastically inappropriate Wilma Fandango.


Reading-on-Thames Festival

Thursday 6 – Sunday 16 September, various times and locations, from free, read more

The Reading-on-Thames Festival is back for a second year, with a bigger programme of cultural events celebrating Reading’s waterside heritage. There’s a series of fun walks and tours, including the Midnight Run (don’t worry, it’s not actually a run), which takes you on a walk from west to east Reading, led by an artist and experiencing art installations, stories and insights along the route.

Other highlights include The Dedication of Reading Abbey from Reading Between the Lines, which is free open air theatre along the riverside. ‘Cirque Bijou’, combine traditional circus skills with a performance of lights at Caversham Court Gardens and ‘In Place of War’, from Grrrl is a live music show from six influential female artists from Brazil, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Bangladesh featuring ghetto bass, hip hop, dancehall, reggae, soul and electronica. Check out the full programme.

Heritage Open Days

Thursday 6 – Sunday 16 September, various events, free, some events may ask for donations, see full event list.

As part of the national Heritage Open Days campaign, 30 historic buildings, locations and homes will open up across Reading for free tours and visits from the public.

This year, there’s a focus on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and you can learn about Edith Morley, a suffragist and Britain’s first female professor, who taught English literature at Reading University. It takes place in the normally out of bounds Senior Common Room at the University of Reading London Road Campus. There’s also two ‘Vote 100’ guide tours from Terry’s Walkabouts taking you around town while learning about 19 of the notable women in Reading’s history.

Open buildings worth exploring are St Mary’s Church on Castle Street, the Victorian Schoolroom at the Abbey Gateway and Brock Keep.

I personally will be trying to bag a place on the Walk around Reading’s IDR, which is led by marvellous hyperlocal blog Whitley Pump. It aims to help us appreciate why the IDR isn’t as ugly as it seems and to reveal what lies beneath.

The Düsseldorf Connection

Saturday 8 September, 10am-1pm, Berkshire Record Office, Free, read more

Have you ever wondered why on earth Reading is twinned with Dusseldorf? Well, you can find out at this exhibition of special displays from the Reading Düsseldorf Association archives which includes a tour of the strongroom and documents from former Reading Mayor Phoebe Cusden, who started our connection with the German city back in 1946. The Record Office are also inviting you, the Reading public to donate your own documents, such as diaries, letters, photographs, or tickets that can tell a story about your connection with Düsseldorf.

The tour is 10-11am only and must be booked in advance at [email protected] or 0118 937 5132.The gallery is available to browse all day.

Reading Indie Market

Sunday 9 September, 11-4pm, BrewDog Reading, Free entry

Browse for quirky gifts at Reading’s newest indie market, which brings together stalls from some of best online independent artisans and crafters in Reading. Sure, it’s not in an indie bar, but stall holders will make up for the credentials. Look out for zero waste specialists Our Last Straw, recycled vintage journals from Ferm and Oak, jewellery from Big Happy Designs and graphic illustrators from Matthew Potts. Get shopping.

The London Mozart Players

Tuesday 11 September, 7pm, The Concert Hall, £10, book tickets

One of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, celebrate their 70th year with an exuberant programme of classical favourites for the High Sheriff’s concert, as part of Reading on Thames Festival. The programme includes Mozart’s Divertimento 136, the Elgar Serenade, Barber Adagio For Strings and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade For Strings. Use the code thamesfest20 to get 20% off tickets.

Jesus Christ Super Star

Thursday 13 – Saturday 22 September, 7.45pm, 2.30pm Saturday matinee, Progress Theatre, £15, £13/concessions, Book online 

Progress Theatre present their first musical production for quite a few years with the iconic, foot-tapping rock opera from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Look out for a review on opening night.

RISC Roof Garden open day

Sunday 15 September, 12-4pm, RISC Global Cafe, London Street, Free, but donations welcome

As part of Reading’s Heritage Open Days, RISC open their award-winning sustainable rooftop garden to the public. Pop in to see their 185 species of plants, their edible forest, and find how they use renewable materials in their landscaping.

Reading Film and Video Makers new season

Tuesday 18 September, 7.45pm, St Andrews Hall, Albert Road, £25 for 6 week membership

Why not start the new school year with a new hobby? Reading’s short film making club open up their season with six weeks of sessions dedicated to new comers, including practical filming nights and technical advice such as camera basics, composition and script writing. See the full programme. 

Ocean Film Festival

Friday 21 September, 7.30pm, The Hexagon, £15.50, book tickets

If you were a fan of Blue Planet, you’ll love this nature-focused evening film festival from the organisers of BANFF. Watch a collection of short films based around the ocean, including big wave surfers, unlikely ocean rowers and a man who bonded with a shark (no, not like that, filthy!) Most are around 30 mins long and they’re all 12A, so you can bring the family. Expect mind-blowing marine life and hidden depths of the planet on the big screen.

Reading Vegan Festival

Saturday 22 September, 10.30am-4.30pm, St Laurence Church, Friar Street, find out more

Reading’s vegan festival returns for its second year at St Laurence church. Last year saw a, frankly, staggering crowd of attendees all celebrating an ‘ethical, healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle’. There’ll be street food stalls (hopefully with less queues than last year) with seitan burgers and vegan lunchboxes and stalls with ethical beauty clothing and household products to pick up for home. As well as the market, there’ll be a vegan knitting group, craft circles, workshops on vegan nutrition and activities for children.

Nobodies Birthday

Are You Listening? Summer Party

Saturday 22 September, 3pm – late, The Oakford Social Club, Free entry, but £5 donation suggested, read more

If you’re already getting festival withdrawal symptoms, then this is the event for you. AYL, Reading’s real best music festival hosts their end of summer one day party in support of Mencap. All money on the door goes towards the charity for people with a learning disability. Headlining is Nobodies Birthday, with CatGod, Gldn and Sink Ya Teeth elsewhere on the line up. There’ll also be DJ sets throughout the day and an exciting Are You Listening Ale brewed in collaboration with West Berkshire Brewery.

Club Velocity presents

Saturday 22 September, 7.30pm, Readipop Studios, £7, book tickets

Club Velocity throw a charity gig in memory of flat-capped community stalwart Matthew Farrall, who wrote here at Explore Reading and at the Whitley Pump, and was my friend. Proceeds go to raise money for a defibrillator and plaque in his name at the South Reading Community Centre. The set list is all Reading bands he knew, or loved: punk misfits Rumpo Kidz, cover band Dinos, garage post punk Kill Committee and indie rockers Harroland. It should be a blinder of a night.

Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

Wednesday 26 September, 8pm, South Street Arts Centre, £13, book tickets

Silent Uproar and House Theatre present a joyful, silly musical about depression. It’s written by . Olivier award winner Jon Brittain, who also wrote Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho. Sally’s a happy person. She doesn’t let little things get her down and almost never cries. But she’s got an illness. It makes her feel like she isn’t the person she wants to be, but she doesn’t want anyone to know about it. Sally sings throws glitter and tells you how it’s OK to not be OK.

Oktoberfest Reading

From Thursday 27 September, The Oracle Riverside, free entry

How can you tell it’s the end of summer? The Beach Bar at the Oracle disappears and gets replaced by this German bierhaus. It moves in from the last weekend on September and will stick around for weekends through the autumn. There’ll be oompah music, German foods (also known as sausage) and of course, steins of beer. There’ll be another Oktoberfest festival at Station Hill in October proper. Look out for that next month.

Reading town meal

Reading Town Meal

Saturday 29 September, 12-4pm, Forbury Gardens, Free

It turns out there really is such a thing as a free lunch. For one day, this annual community meal serves up a free vegetarian lunch in Forbury Gardens. Vegetables are donated by Reading residents, the meal is cooked by catering students from Reading College and the event is run entirely by volunteers. There’ll also be music on the bandstand, a whole range of community and charity stands and stalls from local vendors.

Vegan Brazilian Dinner

Saturday 29 September, 7pm, Pau Brasil, £25, book online.

Yet another vegan meal, this time organised by Ethical Collective. Join this Vegan Brazilian Dinner Party, where 20 people will enjoy three courses of Brazilian food at Reading’s own Sao Paolo stop Pau Brasil. Dishes, including Xinxin de Jilo, which is apparently a vegetable like aubergine in a rich spicy tomato sauce, and Cuzcuz Paulista corn and vegetable cakes and there’ll be wine and music throughout. To reserve your place, email [email protected]


Saturday 29 September, 9pm, Global Cafe, £5, buy tickets

Scottish indie rock band Meursault headline this special gig in support of the charity Mind, They’re performing their new album Crow Hill in its entirety, which is apparently ‘a series of urban horror vignettes set to music’. Immersive. Support comes from the always engaging Hamish Hawk.

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