The best things to do in Reading in January 2019

It’s January, or is it Veganuary, Dry January or Tryanuary? Whichever month you’re following, there’s a lot of encouragement to stay at home and hibernate away the start of the year. But if you do you’ll be missing out on the tons of events happening in Reading this January.

Make the most of your start to 2019 with our guide to the best events, gigs, plays, concerts, dinners, comedy nights and things to do in Reading in January.

The best events in Reading this month

Blood and Ice

Monday 7 – Saturday 12 January, 7.45pm, £12, book tickets

Community theatre company Progress tells the story behind the creation of Frankenstein in this restrained but vivid production, bringing the life of its creator, Mary Shelley, out of the shadows. Read our review of Blood and Ice.

Reading Abbey and Gaol

Reading Abbey and Gaol. Photo: Claire Slobodian

Talks at Two: Reading Abbey and the Abbey Quarter

Saturday 12 January, 2pm, Reading Museum, £5, book tickets

Get under the stones of Reading Abbey with this talk from the authors behind the new Two Rivers Press illustrated guide. Hear about the history of the Abbey Quarter from foundation to dissolution and the subsequent rejuvenation and conservation.

Comedy at Milk

Tuesday 15 January, 7pm, Milk Bar, £5, book tickets.

Reading’s best value comedy night presents three national touring comedians for only £5. It’s that affordable because the acts are usually working on new material and practising for upcoming tours. This month Andrew Bird, who has supported Michael McIntyre at the O2 returns. I saw him at Milk in October and the audience almost made him cry, so he’s clearly determined to make us laugh this time around. Also on the bill is Bobby Mair, who’s appeared on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ and Chortle Award-winner Stephen Grant.

Six week meditation course

Wednesday 16 January, Kadampa Meditation Centre Reading, £27 for six weeks or £6 to drop in, read more.

The start of a new year can often be full of stress to start afresh or make changes in your life. This course from the meditation centre on the Bath Road aims to reduce your stress and improve your levels of mindfulness and concentration. Each session will be led by an experienced practitioner who will lead you through two guided meditations that can be reproduced at home.

Andrew Doyle: Friendly Fire

Friday 18 January, 8pm, South Street Arts Centre, £13, book tickets

The political satirist and co-creator of Jonathan Pie brings his latest solo stand up show to our town’s best arts centre. After he performed ‘Thought Crimes’, his last show at Edinburgh, The Independent described him as ‘one of the funniest, sharpest, cruellest comedians out there’.

Readipop Festival Launch Party

Saturday 19 January, 8pm, Purple Turtle, Sign up for queue jump

The beloved Readipop Festival launches its 2019 season with a party headlined by Jurassic 5 member, Soup, on their first ever UK solo show. Soup is a legend in hip hop, not only for his work with Jurassic 5, but also for his work with Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep and his debut album ‘Free, White & 21’, released last year. Support comes from local MC Ash the Author and Jazmine Flowers.

See our pick of the best gigs to see in Reading in January.

First Man

Tuesday 22 January, 7.45pm, Reading Film Theatre, £8/£6 members, book tickets

Reading’s independent film theatre reopens in January with its spring season of films. This Ryan Gosling-led Golden Globe winner tells the tale behind Neil Armstrong’s first ‘small step’ on the moon. Don’t go expecting ‘Apollo 13’-like tension though, this a moving and intimate portrait of the inner life of the famous spaceman.

Swan Lake

Tuesday 22 – Wednesday 23 January, 7.30pm, The Hexagon, £36.50, book tickets

The Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet, led by principal dancer Natalia Romanova, present the soaring story of the Prince and the Swan Princess. A live orchestra will accompany with Tchaikovsky’s dramatic score.

Ninja Duck comedy night

Friday 25 January, 8.30pm, Great Expectations, free.

Ninja Duck is a free monthly stand up event from local comedians. It’s an open mic night with stand up in the first half and improv in the second.

Afternoon Tea Gin Tasting

Saturday 26 January, 1.30pm, Roseate Hotel, £32.95.

Sample three small batch gins you probably haven’t tried before (I definitely haven’t) in this tasting masterclass at the beautiful Forbury Roseate Hotel. After the hour tasting you pick your favourite gin and tonic to enjoy over a traditional afternoon tea in Cerise restaurant. The gins include Elephant from Hamburg, Glendalough Seasonal Small Batch, from County Wicklow, Ireland and FEW American gin from Illinois.

Tryanuary Party

Saturday 26 January, afternoon, Double-Barrelled Brewery, free entry.

With UK pubs reportedly closing at a rate of 18 a week, Reading’s local pubs and breweries need your support, so I say skip Dry January and embrace Tryanuary – trying independent pubs and new beers. Double-Barrelled, exciting newcomers to the Reading brewery scene, are throwing a Tyranuary party to celebrate their Tap Room reopening after the Christmas holidays. There’ll be lots of fun and lots of beer – their own brews and guest pours.

Look out for our spotlight on Double Barrelled Brewery coming soon.

Lunchtime Organ Recital

Monday 28 January, 1pm, Concert Hall, £5, book tickets

Give your lunch break a cultural boost with the first organ recital of the year at the beautiful Concert Hall. Organist Andy Baldwin from Shinfield plays a 45 minute programme including music by Bach, Whitlock, Becker and Wesley.

European Union Chamber Orchestra

Tuesday 29 January, 7.30pm, Concert Hall, £23.50, book tickets

The EUCO features 19 musicians from across the EU and in many ways considers itself a musical ambassador for the European Union. Here they’re joined by acclaimed trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins for a programme that included Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Go see them now, because who knows if the EUCO will be back.

Reading SOUP
Reading SOUP

Reading Soup

Wednesday 30 January, 6.30pm, St Laurence Church, £5.

The bi-monthly community crowdfunding event returns with three charity pitches. Pay £5 for a bowl of homemade vegan soup, vote for your favourite of the pitchers and your door entry goes to the winning project. There’ll also be acoustic music and art displays.

The Chicken and the Egg

Until Thursday 31 January, The MERL, free, read more

If there’s a more perfectly MERL-appropriate special exhibition than one designed to transform poultry heritage, I can’t think of it. Taking place in the beautiful, but small, Staircase Hall, this exhibition celebrates all the chicken, duck and other poultry-related collections from the archives, including documents from the National Poultry Test – that’s testing farmers and breeders, not the chickens, obviously. It’s all likely to be eggscellent (I’ll see myself out).

Stephen K amos

Stephen K Amos

Thursday 31 January – Saturday 2 February, 8pm, South Street Arts Centre, £19.50, book tickets

Warm, feel-good TV comic Stephen K Amos is on a mission to cheer us up at a depressing time. He returns to South Street with his latest tour, ‘Bouquets and Brickbats’ aiming to immerse the audience in warmth and laughter. That sounds a lot more enjoyable a way to spend a Thursday night than watching ‘Question Time’ again.

Laura Mariel Gonzalez

Vegan Malaysian dinner party

Thursday 31 January, 7.30pm, Tasting House, £30/person, book by emailing

If you’ve been doing Vegan-uary, round out your month with this vegan supper club from Laura of Bench Rest and new cooking duo Makan Malaysia. There’ll be a six course tasting menu and a glass of vegan wine.

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