- Stages and other entertainment
- Disability Access
- Local Accommodation
- What to wear
- Site Information
- Food and drink
- Perform at the festival
- Volunteer or work
- Drugs and security
- Past lineups
Reading and Leeds are a pair of musical events that take place simultaneously, in different locations, during the English August bank holiday weekend. Over the years the event has changed considerably, although in recent time the festival's line up features mostly Rock, Alternative, Metal, Punk, Electro and Indie music.
The Reading site of the Reading and Leeds Festival, is the larger of the two and the most well-known. Tickets for the Reading site often sell-out, whereas the Leeds site usually has tickets remaining up until the show dates.
The Reading and Leeds Festival is one of the biggest rock festivals in the UK, second only to Glastonbury, and has received much acclaim, including the 2013 NME Festival Award. Both events consistently manage to organise all star line ups that include some of the biggest names in contemporary music.
The 2013 line up includes: pioneering punk rockers Green Day, multi-platinum rapper Eminem, iconic 90s rap/rock act System Of A Down, Nine Inch Nails who brought industrial music to the popularity, dub-step master Skrillex, ASAP Rocky who is blowing up in a big way right now, indie rockers alt-J with their wistful melancholy sound, and many more
In recent years Reading and Leeds Festival has gained the reputation of being quite a young festival, popular with teens who have recently finished GCSE's or sixth form, students and other types of young adults.
As mentioned on the main website, this festival is not recommended for young children. With no family camping area or child facilities, parents are advised against bringing children to this festival.
The campsites at Reading and Leeds have a reputation for hosting multiple parties after the festival events conclude each day. Consequently the campsites can be loud with parties continuing until the early morning.
Stages and other entertainment
2013 sees the introduction of the BBC Radio 1xtra Stage showcasing the best in UK grime and hip hop and the BBC Radio 1 Dance stage, where big names like Dizzee Rascal and Azelia Banks will be playing.
Beyond the Main Stage, other stages include the Lock Up stage for rock, the Festival Republic Stage, and the BBC Introducing Stage. There is also the Alternative Stage for live stand up and beat boxing.
At both festivals there is cinema tent, that plays films throughout the night, with the chosen films detailed in the programme that week.
Both festivals also host the popular and infamous Silent Discos where attendees were Wi-Fi headphones that play different types of music.
There are certain differences between non music entertainment that can be found at either festival:
- The festival's close proximity to Reading town allows festival goers to explore other food and drink facilities. The local Rivermead Centre has a pool with showers that festival goers can use between 8am-3pm on Thursday to Sunday.
- 5-a-side football takes place on every day, if you are interested in registering a team, you will need to email your team name and players to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although tickets for the Reading site of the festival sell-out each year, a large group of touts will be selling tickets: (i) outside the main Reading railway station, and (ii) outside the main festival site during each day of the festival. These touts will ask you to pay a high price, at first, but if you wait and barter with them, being polite but strong-willed, you will be able to buy tickets for a reasonable price (and often for less than their face value).
In regards to VIP tickets or areas, there seems to be no particular choices apart from boutique camping choices.
The official Reading and Leeds Festival website states that this is not a suitable event for younger children.
These festivals provide some access for people with disabilities. Most stages have a viewing area for people in wheelchairs for example.
The weather at both festivals in August is usually fairly pleasant, although attendees should prepare for sun, heat, cold and rain as the British weather is prone to daily changes.
- The Leeds site is set at Bramham Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire.
- the Reading site is set at Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire.
The main difference between the two sites is that Reading Festival is situated in an urban area close to a town, whereas Leeds set in a less central area within a country park.
The nearest airport to Reading Festival is London Heathrow. You could get the train directly from the aiport, However we would recommend using Rail Air. This is a service set up to specifically link Heathrow Airport and Reading Station via coach, and the site itself is 15 minutes walk from the station which is clearly signposted.
Reading Station is just a 15 minute walk away from Richfield Avenue, Reading. However, if you'd rather not carry all of your luggage then there is a Shuttle Bus Service (98 Service). The Reading Station has been completely rennovated, the new exit is at the Northern Interchange off Vestern Road. You can get the Shuttle bus from there.
From Reading Town Centre you can get the X40 to Caversham Road. Though do bear in mind it is only a 15 minute walk from the centre of Reading to the Festival.
There are 2 car parks; the Green car park and the White car park. Tickets for the car park cost £5 in advance to purchase contact Seetickets. If you'd like to purchase these on the gate at the festival, tickets will be £10. If you are travelling to/from the Green Car Park then then the Green Park shuttle boat will take you. It's a free service starting when the campsites open and runs through until campsites close at 12 midday on Monday 29th.
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The nearest airport is Leeds Bradford International Airport. The most popular route to take from the airport, is to travel to Leeds Railway Station and to then catch the shuttle bus to Bramham Park. You can get to Leeds Railway Station by the Metroconnect 757 which provides a direct bus service to/from Leeds, stopping off at Leeds bus and train stations, Kirkstall, Horsforth, Rawdon, Pool and Otley. If you'd like to avoid using the Metroconnect service then a taxi from Leeds Bradford Airport to Leeds Railway Station should cost around £13 - £15.
The nearest train station is the Leeds Railway Station, From which you can take the shuttle bus to Leeds Festival. To make things even better,First TransPennine Express have teamed up with the shuttle bus company. All you have to do is buy a shuttle bus ticket alongside your train ticket! This can be done online from First TransPennine Express, Don't forget, if you sort your travel in advance you could save yourself some money!
By Shuttle Bus
Most public transport is based around the frequent shuttle buses, providing a hassle-free method of getting to Bramham Park - which otherwise is slightly off the beaten track! The buses will be running from Leeds City Railway Station and Leeds Coach Station. If you're travelling from York then there is a Shuttle Bus service from York Station on Thursday and back to York Station on Monday. For more information on the Shuttle Bus service visit Leeds Fest Buses or tel 0113 263 9491.
The shuttle bus fares are as follows:
- £4.50 day single from Leeds Railway / Coach Station to Bramham Park
- £7 cheap day return from Leeds Railway / Coach Station to / from Bramham Park available Friday to Sunday only
- £8.50 open return from Leeds Railway / Coach Station or York to / from Bramham Park (£8 if booked in advance)
- £18 multi-journey wristband - as many journeys as you like to any of the destinations from Wednesday to Monday.
- £4 day return to Tescos (only available for sale onsite at Yellow Gate)
Hotels near Reading Festival
- Crown Lodge Guest House
- Mercure George Hotel
- Quality Hotel Reading
- Parkside International
- The Lawn Hotel
- Hillingdon Prince
- Elmhurst Hotel
Hotels near Leeds Festival
- Mercue Wetherby
- Britannia Leeds
- Thorpe Park Hotel and Spa
- Best Western Plus
- Bridge Farm Hotel
- Quality Hotel Leisure
- The Wrens Hotel
What to wear
In 2012 River Island organised a ‘Swap Shop’ at the Reading site. Attendees were able to exchange their dirty festival clothes for some brand new River Island clothing, with used clothes being given to charity.
Many people at this festival wear old Reading and Leeds Festival line-up t-shirts from past years. Many other people will be wearing band t-shirts, jeans, shorts, or costumes such as fairy outfits. Grunge, Emo and Goth styles are popular with this crowd.
Camping at Reading
- The White Campsite is the designated 'Quieter Campsite'
Camping at Leeds
- The Brown Campsite is the designated 'Quieter Campsite'
The Reading site is near to a river that, at times, particularly during the 70's and 80's, people have used to bath and swim in. This is not recommended, as it can be quite dirty.
There is a large pub [can a reader please add the name of this venue?], just outside the Reading site, that offers standard priced beers and great cooked breakfast. This pub can be crowded but is a great place to eat breakfast on the day you leave the festival.
Food and drink
- FOOD TIP: As the Reading festival site closes on the final evening (Sunday) and festival attendees leave to return to their campsites, many traders will offer people very cheap or even free food.
Over 18’s must collect a certain wristband that will ensure they are served alcohol. ID must be shown to qualify for a wristband. Children under 16 MUST be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
- TRIVIA: In 2012, the event organisers offered all attendees a free pint and burger at the festival. This was most likely a publicity stunt provoked by poor ticket sales that year.
Perform at the festival
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Volunteer or work
For more information check here
Drugs and security
For the 2012 event, The Reading Branch (police) were praised for a reduction in crime, with tent thefts dropping to just 61 reported cases, a 56% drop from previous years.
In 2012 police began to use bicycles to patrol the festival.
Despite a police presence at the festival, many people are using (and selling) drugs. Cannabis fudge, cakes and other edible materials are usually available in most campsites.
This festival began as The National Jazz Festival in 1961. After several moves and name changes, 1971 saw the event decide on the permanent name, Reading Festival.
1970's: In the 1970's the festival focused heavily on heavy metal, blues and progressive-rock.
1980's: The festival was temporarily banned in 1984 & 1985 due to the Conservative Party reclaiming the festival site for development and providing no alternative site. When Labour regained the council, Reading Festival was given permission to use the fields opposite the original site. In 1986 Reading Festival returned with a predominantly "classic rock" line-up with bands such as Alice Cooper and Status Quo performing.
1990's: In the 1990's the festival began to host rap acts such as Ice Cube, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Many Britpop and Indie bands also began to dominate the bill. In 1992 Nirvana played the festival, with Kurt Cobain performing from a wheelchair. This was a dig at the media's constant portrayal of Cobain as a junkie.
In 1999 the festival secured a second site in Leeds.
With the festival running since the 60's, promoters and organisers are always looking for ways to keep the lineups fresh and interesting, sometimes this has worked to their benefit, other times it has been detrimental to their reputation. When lineup additions have not proved popular, the crowd tends to throw bottles at them, to show their dislike. Sometimes these bottles will be full of urine.
Although not at the same level of mass-participation as it was during the 1970's and 1980's, bottling at Reading and Leeds still happens during very bad performances.
Famous incidents include:
- 1988: Bonnie Tyler performed a whole set regardless of the bottles and turf audiences bombarded her with, that same festival Meat Loaf was bottled of stage 20 minutes into his set.
- 2000: After two songs, Daphne and Celeste had to leave the stage after constant bottling, as you can see below. (Watch the clip here)
- 2003: Good Charlotte performed a whole set through bottling, even stopping at one point to encourage fans to chuck their bottles at the same time.
- 2004: 20 minutes into 50 Cent's bottling he chucked his microphone into the crow, whereas The Rasmus left after one song.
- 2006: The Panic At The Disco Set was stopped temporarily while Brandon Urie received treatment after being struck on the shoulder, the band continued to play from the point the song was interrupted.
From time to time big name acts will appear on smaller stages under different names, much to the audience's surprise. in 2007 the Kaiser Chiefs appeared in the Carling Tent at Leeds using the name Hooks For Hands.
In 2011 Green Day played a semi-secret gig in the NME/BBC Radio 1 Introducing tent.
Foo Fighters, The Cure and Kasabian are the confirmed main headliners, with the likes of Paramore, Bombay Bicycle Club, You Me At Six, Florence + The Machine, Kaiser Cheifs and many many more. To view the full line-up as it is confirmed, click here.
My Chemical Romance, Muse, Pulp, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Strokes, Elbow, The Offspring, The National, Interpol, Beady Eye and Peter Doherty.
For more details on the 2011 line-up and past line-up highlights click here.
For full information on the festival please visit the main Reading and Leeds Festival wiki.