The River Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Thames
The Kennet river and canal flows through the centre of Reading and joins the River Thames. Both provide very pleasant walks and are used by canal boats, river cruises and private launches.
The Forbury Gardens, with bandstand and statue of the Maiwand Lion and the 10th century Reading Abbey Ruins are both located in central Reading.
Caversham Court Gardens is a Reading Borough Council public park, open to all. It is situated on the banks of the River Thames near Caversham Bridge. The gardens have won the prestigious Green Flag Award, as well as a Green Heritage Site award four years running, since 2010.
The main Reading Museum is housed in the Old Town Hall at the eastern end of Friar Street, in the centre of Reading. The building, opened in 1875, was designed by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, who is also noted for the Science Museum in London – his brother Edwin, an accountant, set up the accountancy firm now known as Price Waterhouse & Cooper.
Reading has a well established reputation as a cultural centre: it has several theatre venues, including The Hexagon – a multi-purpose venue that provides a programme of events including theatre, comedy, classical music and dance – The Concert Hall, 21 South Street (an intimate venue for comedy, theatre and music) as well as the Progress Theatre (the innovative repertory theatre where Kenneth Branagh took his first acting steps).
Famous writers and actors associated with Reading:
Samuel Beckett – Irish writer and playwright. Reading University houses the largest archive of documents in the world of Beckett’s works.
Oscar Wilde – ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ another Irish writer who was imprisoned in Reading.
Charles Dickens – Author of ‘Oliver Twist’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, David Copperfield.
Sir Kenneth Branagh – Another N. Irishman – Actor and director schooled in acting at the Progress Theatre in Reading.
Kate Winslet – Born in Reading – actress in the film ‘The Titanic’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’ – directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh.
The sports offer is equally impressive:
The Royals (Reading Football Club, freshly promoted to the Premership for the 2012/13 season) share the Madejski Stadium with London Irish RFC. Reading Men’s Hockey Club have been European Champions, as well as forming the core of Olympic sides. Rowing is equally well represented: the University of Reading Rowing Club is an important breeding ground for Olympic hopefuls and Reading Amateur Regatta is the second biggest in the country (after Henley). Beside The River Thames in Caversham is the Olympic training venue for rowers.
Reading is the premier shopping destination in the south east outside London with everything you could want all in one place; from quirky boutiques to high end jewellers, we have a range of independent stores sitting alongside the major high street brands, such as Marks and Spencer, Next and Primark. Our two big shopping centres – The Oracle and Broad Street Mall – are located on the vibrant high street and are a natural starting point for any expedition.
Events and festivals
In fact Reading has one of the busiest special events calendars in the south – from the Pancake Race to our Lighting Up Christmas celebrations, our streets are busy with festivities that inspire residents and visitors alike.
Of course, some of our events are bigger than others – Reading Festival is the oldest of the UK’s world famous rock festivals and attracts 80,000 fans every year.
Not quite as big, but still with big fan bases, you can devour delicious food at our annual foodie festival, Eat Reading Live, chill out at the Beer & Cider Festival, the Reading Real Ale and Jazz Festival, Reading Pride, the Water Fest – or maybe bring the children to take part in the fun of the two-week Children’s Festival.
We’re big on world culture too; we celebrate Bastille Day and Dhoom Damaka, our Asian Arts festival, in July and every October we mark Black History Month.
For more detailed information, visit Reading Borough Council.
Some Reading Events
|March||Reading Half Marathon|
|April||Reading Contemporary Art Fair|
|May||Reading Beer & Cider Festival|
|June||Sept Forbury Band Concert Season|
|June||Reading Water Fest|
|June||Reading Arts & Music Week|
|July||Real Ale and Jazz Festival|
|August||The Famous Reading Pop Music Festival|