It’s the festive season, so that means carol concerts, Christmas parties, markets, dinner parties and family shows in Reading. Make the most of December with our guide to the best events and things to do in Reading this month. Look out for the Jelly Christmas art fair, Stephen K Amos, The Winter Giant, Launchpad’s Carols by Candlelight and more.
Carols by Candlelight
Thursday 7 December | 6pm | Reading Minster | £10/person, £25/family | Find out more
Get into the festive spirit in the beautiful Reading Minster Church with the annual candlelight carol concert in support of Launchpad. The charity, who work to prevent homelessness in Reading, welcome the public to join their staff, clients, volunteers and patrons to enjoy music and raise money for their work. Carols come from the Reading Bach Choir, St Teresa’s Catholic Academy, the winners of the Launchpad School Choir Competition and Launchpad Patron, Danyl Johnson.
Online tickets are now sold out, but some tickets are still available on the door. Arrive early to get a seat.
Jelly Art Fair
Thursday 7-Sunday 10 December | 10am-6pm Thur-Sat, 11am-5pm Sun | Broad Street Mall | Find out more
Head to Jelly’s new art space in the Broad Street Mall (next to the old Argos) to pick up unique and handmade Christmas gifts and decorations from local Reading artists. Look out for wooden Christmas tree decorations from Sam Knight, cute printed cushions from Kate Powell and prints from Lisa-Marie Gibbs, the artist behind The Engine Room. You’ll find something much more original than the cut price handbags and ‘crystal’ jewellery on offer in Unboxed next door.
A Winter Haunt: The Chill is Rising
Friday 8- Thursday 9 December | 7.30pm | Battle Library | £6, £4/members | Tickets available at Central and Battle Libraries
Embrace the chilly winter with these fun ghost story evenings at Battle Library. Theale Green School and Exiled Theatre present a thrilling story telling session for kids as the shadows gather this December.
Bookish at South Street
Wednesday 13 December | 7.30pm | South Street Arts Centre | £10 | Book tickets
Performers Laura Mugridge and Tom Adams put on comedy shows inspired by books. The audience vote for their favourite two from The London A-Z, The Autobiography of Ginger Rogers, The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Dairy Book Of Family Cookery or Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected. The winners will be performed on the night. Each one weaves comedy, live music, a quiz and story telling. It sounds charming and bonkers and fun.
Reading SOUP Christmas Party
Thursday 14 December | 8pm | Global Cafe | £3 | Find out more
Celebrate Christmas with Reading’s crowdfunding community at Global Cafe. There’ll be music from Selina and the Howling Dogs and mince pies, dancing and merriment. All the money from the door goes towards funding for Reading SOUP, to help it continue running events next year.
Stephen K Amos
Thursday 14 – Friday 15 December | 8pm | South Street Arts Centre | £19.50 | Book tickets
Warm, feel-good TV comic Stephen K Amos brings his latest stand up tour, ‘Bread and Circuses’ to South Street. The show notes say: “Modern politics is a confusing mess, so no one can blame you for giving it a miss in favour of a night of laughs.” It might not be pithy, or newsy, but Amos will likely be a fun, endearing distraction from all that has been 2017.
Club Velocity presents Ben Marwood
Saturday 16 December | 8pm | Rising Sun Arts Centre | £8 | Book tickets
Reading’s own folk singer-songerwriter Ben Marwood has toured with Frank Turner. Club Velocity bring him back to town for a Christmas knees up at the Rising Sun Arts Centre. There’ll also be free mince pies, festive cheer and support from Non Canon and Band of Hope.
Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas
Saturday 16 – Sunday 24 December | 12pm or 3pm | Reading Studio of Dramatic Art, Reading College, Kings Road | £9/adult, £25/family | Book tickets
When Alby the Penguin stumbles across Santa’s list of presents left behind in the snow, he realises that Christmas isn’t going to happen unless the list is reunited with its owner. Written and directed by Helen Eastman, this warming family production from Reading Rep is a fun alternative to the panto for children aged 3-6.
The Winter Giant
Saturday 16 December | Dee Park (starting point Tay Road, near Test Close) | Free | Find out more
Beautiful Creatures’ award-winning outdoor puppetry show The Winter Giant returns to Reading this year after wowing Broad Street audiences in 2015. This time, the 6-metre-tall John the Giant wakes up lost and looking for a home in the suburbs of Dee Park, Tilehurst, an area that has seen big changes and a real community develop over the last few years.
The show has been re-made in collaboration with Dee Park youth groups, the residential home and local families, who will all light the way for the Winter Giant as he travels through Dee Park. Everyone is welcome to come and watch, join in and help John the Giant find his way home.
Nomad Spirit of Reading Pop Up
Saturday 16 November | 7.45pm | 58 Workspace | £28 | Find out more
Nomad Bakery host an exciting pop up supper experience at the slick new shared workspace from the 58 Barbershop team. There’ll be tastings of gin and vodka and food from Laura, including tartine and smørrebrød.
Caversham Artisan and Farmers Market
Sunday 17 December | 10am – 3pm | St Martins Precinct, Caversham | Find out more
Stock up on last minute stocking fillers from the Caversham community at Reading’s latest weekend market. Local crafters, makers and artisans will join grocers and farmers on the first and third Sundays of the month. The first market featured jewellery and art from Epoch3, salvage furniture from Circle Wood Shop and scotch eggs and sausage rolls from Simons Pies. There was also fruit and veg and street food from Vegivores to fill you up while browsing.
Sunday Assembly Singalong Special
Sunday 17 December | 10.30am | Reading Irish Community Centre, Chatham Street | Find out more
The Sunday Assembly is a secular Sunday gathering who meet once a month at The Reading Irish Centre. Join their friendly non-religious Yuletime special for singing, (but no Christmas songs, of course), as well as cake, poems, games and words about the festive season.
Honest Burgers opening
Monday 18 December | Market Place | Read more
We’ve been expecting it for months, but the London burger chain finally opens its second restaurant outside the capital in the half Victorian/half Brutalist building opposite Jackson’s this month. As well as their classic patties and rosemary chips, they’re going to be doing bottomless brunches at the weekends and a special Reading Burger – made with Two Hoots Berkshire Barkham Blue cheese and relish from our very own Nomad bakery. There’s also a special King Street Pale Ale on the menu made specially by Wild Weather Ales.
Look out for more Honest gossip in our interview with Honest Burgers co-founder Tom Barton coming very soon.
Georgian Feast’s Christmas Eve with Friends
Sunday 24 December | 7.30pm | Island Bar & Restaurant | £15.99/person | Email [email protected] to book
Georgian Feast, our favourite Reading street food sellers are throwing a welcoming Christmas Eve dinner this year. Featuring mulled wine and traditional local recipes dug out of Berkshire Archives and revived by chef Keti, it’s great for anyone who wants to escape cooking duties, doesn’t want to be alone on Christmas Eve, or just wants to sample some of chef Keti’s remarkable home cooking. Pull up a chair and join in the Christmas Georgian Feast.
Christmas opening at The MERL
Thursday 28 – Friday 29 December | 10am-5pm | The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road | Find out more
You know those few days after Christmas? Boxing Day’s gone, along with all the chocolate, and the good Christmas tele. New Year’s Eve is still a way off and you’re itching to leave the house. Well this year, the Museum of English Rural Life is opening on those days, so you can head there and ban the boredom. Explore their beautiful wintry garden, get stuck into interactive games, follow a Winter Trail around the galleries or try out brass rubbing in the studio. And it’s free.
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.