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Reading Festival, Berkshire, UK

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The first thing you need to know is this is not a reading festival where you bring books and read them. It's a rock festival, it's very good and it's held in Reading, Berkshire in England every year on the August Bank Holiday weekend. At the time of writing the Reading Festival costs around £80 for the weekend and includes camping and parking facilities. A day pass costs around £33, which does not include camping facilities, but which you can buy from HMV record stores. The Mean Fiddler Organisation runs the festival and have recently started a Leeds Festival featuring the same line up as Reading, just re-ordered, over the same Bank Holiday weekend.

The History of the Festival

The Reading Festival actually started as a jazz festival, but you wouldn't realise it now. In the 1990s it firmly established itself as the premier music festival for alternative/indie music. There have been many great performances given by a host of seminal acts. Bands like The Pixies, Prodigy, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy have all played at Reading. And in 1992, Nirvana, fronted by the late Kurt Cobain, performed their last ever UK gig as the Sunday night headline act. All reviews of this performance were unanimous in their exceptional, fevered praise. It was a sensational event - the 50,000 crowd singing along to all of Cobain's fractured, inventive lyrics - and was perhaps the musical high point of the '90s.

Useful Reading Festival Tips

The following can all be found on the Reading Festival site:
  • Bars/beer tents
  • Food stalls
  • First Aid tent
  • Information tent
  • Left Luggage tent
  • Designated meeting point
  • Payphones
  • Showers and toilets
  • Welfare tent

Alternatively, you can walk out of the site and into Reading town centre itself to get food and drink. This is only about a 15 minute walk and as the prices on the site are a bit pricey, a trip into town can save you some cash.

Children under 10 are allowed into the festival free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult. However, there are no separate children's facilities, unlike the Glastonbury Festival, England's other major summer music event. Also, try and remember where you parked your car and where you pitched your tent - both are remarkably easy to lose - so be vigilant and only take things that you can afford to lose, so don't bother wearing any family heirloom jewellery.

August can be very hot in England so wear sun screen, and if you were thinking of doing anything... ahem, remotely illegal, be warned; there are police on site, including undercover ones. If you do lose something, remember to go to the Left Luggage tent. However, they won't be able to help you if you've lost your mind. You're better off at First Aid or the Welfare Tent for that. And if you find anything that you think is important to the person who has lost it, you will contribute enormously to the general good karma of the place by making the effort to hand stuff in to Left Luggage.

One final word of advice - do not forget some toilet paper.

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