Explore Reading has now been running for one year, and this is the first of our ‘Things to do’ lists that I’ve been able to update from last year’s page. In 2017, finding 14 events to include in that list took a lot of Facebook searching. This year, there are so many events, art shows, film screenings and food and drink festivals happening that I’ve had to leave things out. That’s great news for Reading, and shows our town growing from strength to exciting strength. Make sure you get out there and try them out, then we’ll get even more next year!
Read on and dive into the best events to do this month, including Open for Art Readipop Festival, Cult Screens, The Fringe Festival, Progress Theatre in the Abbey Ruins, Bastille Day and more.
Open for Art
Monday 2 July – Sunday 8 July, Various locations, free, read more
Local art organisation Jelly celebrate their 25th anniversary with their fifth Open for Art. It’s Reading’s main art festival and sees art from local artists and producers on display in public places across town for a whole week. As well as that, there’s a strong series of talks and workshops where you can here from artists and get involved yourself. The week culminates in a big ArtLine Market of works from 44 local artists on display and for sale along Broad Street.
‘…to the Power of 3’
Until Sunday 15 July, 9am-5pm, The Turbine House (at the end of the Bel & Dragon courtyard), free.
Heather McAteer, Sarah Read and Fong Scott, three Reading artists who met at a Jelly Open for Art meeting, have joined forces to present their responses to the history and architecture of the creaking but fascinating Victorian Turbine House at Blake’s Lock.
Much Ado About Nothing
Wednesday 11 – Saturday 21 July, 7.30pm, Reading Abbey, £22, book tickets.
I, for one, am incredibly excited to see the return of Progress Theatre to the Abbey Ruins for their annual outdoor Shakespeare production. It used to be one of my highlights of the summer and is always an impressive, imposing production making the most of the striking stone space. This year, director Trevor Dale presents one of Shakespeare’s funniest romantic comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, moving the action from an Italian island to a country estate during World War II. There’ll also be a bar from Blue Collar onsite, serving craft beer, Pimms, prosecco and soft drinks.
Remind Me to Remember
Thursday 12 – Sunday 15 July, 1pm – 7pm (Sunday until 5pm), OpenHand OpenSpace at Brock Keep, free, read more
Twenty one artists present their works on the theme of ageing and its effects on our memories in this historic army building, now used as a gallery space.
Friday 13-Sunday 15 July, Christchurch Meadows, £30/weekend, buy tickets
The three-day, family-friendly celebration of music returns to Christchurch Meadows with a line up including Stereo MCs, the Haggis Horns, Odyssey, 808 State, Goldie Looking Chain, Reading Elvis and more. There’s also community stalls, music workshops and food from Blue Collar Street Food. Keen eyed football fans may have also noticed, it’s happening on Final Sunday, so they’ll also be screening the World Cup Final at the festival from 4pm on Sunday.
Read our full guide to Readipop Festival 2018.
Sessions and Sours
Saturday 14 July, 1.30-7.30pm, Siren Tap Room, £13, book online.
Siren, one of Reading’s excellent craft breweries, throw their summer yard party at their Finchampstead tap room to showcase pale ales and zingy sour brews. There’ll be signature Siren beers as well as guest pours and a street food market. Your ticket gets you a glass and tokens to the value of £10 to sample beers around the site. There’ll be buses put on from Wokingham station to help you get there too. Booking a ticket is essential.
Saturday 14- Sunday 15 July, Forbury Gardens, free, read more.
This fun, family celebration of French culture returns to Forbury Gardens for its sixth year. There’ll be clog dancing, French chanteurs, games of Pétanque, crepes, cakes, cheese, face painting, craft stalls and, of course, wine.
Comedy at Milk
Tuesday 17 July, Milk, £5, book tickets
Reading’s best value comedy night brings in two comics presenting Edinburgh Comedy Festival previews this month. Geoff Norcott headlines, he’s been on Mock the Week and claims to be the UK’s only declared Conservative comedian, a fun week for him then.
The World Yoga Festival
Thursday 19- Sunday 22 July, Beale Park, £85/one day, £159/weekend, read more
The Arsha Kula Foundation bring together a salutation of yoga teachers for a four-day open-air festival of ohm at the relaxing Beale Park. There will also be food, massage therapists, meditation zones and live music in the evenings as well as glamping set ups if you want to stay over.
Friday 20-Saturday 21 July, 7.30pm, Nomad Bakery, £28, read more
Reading street food legends, Georgian Feast return with another weekend of their charming dinner parties, this time at Caversham’s Nomad Cafe. Expect a table-trembling amount of food. I was invited to the last one at the Castle Tap and we received six courses of exquisite Georgian home cooking, a near endless supply of cheese bread, an impromptu lesson on Georgian cuisine and the chance to sample thick, robust Georgian Saperavi wine. You’ll forgive the occasional delays and any small mix ups because they’re great fun, great value and the food is so good.
The Labyrinth Challenge
Saturday 21- Sunday 22 July, 11am-5pm each day, Reading Outpost Activity Centre (behind Rivermead), £20 or £5 for under 5s, read more
Have your own go at a Total Wipeout with the world’s longest continuous inflatable assault course this month. It passed me by, but apparently the very first Labyrinth Challenge took place in Reading back in May 2017 and has been touring the UK ever since. Now it’s home, the organisers have made it even bigger. Both adults and kids over 10 can take on the course which measures over 1,000ft long and features more than 30 obstacles in five themed zones including hurdles, climbing walls, tunnels and slides. You can take on the challenge as many times as you like once you’re in. There’s also a smaller Inflatable Village with mini games for younger children to try out.
Reading Fringe Festival
Wednesday 25 – Sunday 29 July, various locations, read more
Reading’s premiere theatre and arts extravaganza returns for its sixth year, with drama, stand-up comedy, and quirky theatre performances from acts heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe. This year, there will be over 100 theatre, film, art, comedy and music shows descending on Reading across one week, including BBC2 comedian Nick Hall, a one-woman show about Freud, Ice Music from Norwegian musician Terje Isungset, a series of ‘On the Couch’ talks with Reading’s big cultural names and a circus tent with film screenings and family events in the Broad Street Mall.
On the Exhale
Thursday 26 – Friday 27 July, South Street Arts Centre, £12, book tickets
Our excellent arts centre, South Street, host an exclusive preview of this China Plate production, before it has its UK premiere at Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month. It’s from the acclaimed team behind ‘Grounded’, written by New Yorker Martin Zimmerman and directed by double Fringe First Award-winner Christopher Haydon. The action opens after a devastating school shooting, and follows a devastated mother as she grapples with an obsession that begins to take over her life. There’s also a Theatre Club audience discussion in the bar afterwards, on the Thursday. A rare opportunity and definitely not one to miss.
Cult Screens at Caversham Court Gardens
Thursday 26 – Saturday 28 July | Gates 7.30pm, film at 9pm | Caversham Court Gardens | From £15.35 | Book tickets
After a near-sell out season of outdoor films at the Abbey Ruins in June, Cult Screens, return to the charming Caversham Court Gardens with big screen, open-air showings of Goodfellas (26 July), Notting Hill (27 July) and Darkest Hour (28 July).There’s a bar on site and Kerbside Kitchen does hotdogs and the like if you’re peckish. You can bring your own blanket, picnic or chair, but the best tickets are deck chairs, which get you a free drink and popcorn included.
Film & Fizz Club at The Forbury
Friday 27 July, 6.45pm, The Roseate Hotel, £36.95 per person, read more
Do a night at the pictures in style with the private cinema at the Roseate Hotel (formerly The Forbury Hotel, they’ve changed names). Dine on a three course meal with a glass of Champagne in Cerise restaurant, followed by coffee and petit fours before heading to the luxe screening room to watch charming French romantic comedy Amelie.
Saturday 28 July, 8pm, Readipop Studios, book tickets
Club Velocity present one of the biggest band line ups of the month at Readipop Studios. indie rockers Candid Heist headline along with Guildford’s Cascade, and Reading bands Puma Thurman and the much-talked-about Harroland.
A Vow to Kill
Saturday 28 July, 12pm & 3pm, venue tba, £22, book tickets
Race around Reading in search of clues to solve the latest interactive murder mystery game from the team behind A Gamble with Death and more. This time, Supermodel Beau Kay has been found murdered before her big day and you have to crack the case. It’s a fun and exciting way to explore Reading, solving problems and riddles, and looking for evidence found on local businesses, lampposts and shop windows.
Sunday Assembly does Philosophical Dating
Sunday 29 July, 10.45am, Reading Irish Centre, free, read more
No, this isn’t actual dating. Friendly, secular community event Sunday Assembly ask you to question the big things, and the small things, in life, with a rotating circle of philosophical dilemmas. That’s followed up group singing of rock songs with house band, The Word Of Bob, and tea and cake, made by Assembly members.
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.