9-17 September 2017

Reading UK CIC is delighted to announce that the inaugural Reading-on-Thames Festival will take place between 9 and 17 September 2017 with support from Arts Council England and Reading’s newest office building, R+.

This new arts and cultural festival for Reading was born out of the ideas, enthusiasm and momentum from Reading’s Year of Culture in 2016. It aims to put Reading’s waterways back at the heart of the town as the backdrop and inspiration for an inspiring eight-day arts programme from national and local cultural groups.

International outdoor arts super stars, Walk The Plank, will bring their creative floating genius to Reading for the first time with a spectacular finale, River Stories*, on the Thames on Saturday 16 September. Walk the Plank have created unique outdoor shows in the UK and internationally. They will be creating a special pyro-tech theatrical event which will use as its inspiration the rich tapestry of stories of the River Thames and its cultural and historical significance to the town.

John Wassell, Walk the Plank Creative Producer, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this exciting new festival by working with the artists and people of Reading to create a magical spectacle on the river.  25 years ago we set up the UK’s first touring theatre ship so it’s poignant in our 25th anniversary that we get to work on one of the most famous rivers in the world for the people of Reading.”

River Stories will take place on 16 September, subject to licensing, at Caversham Court Gardens. Tickets are available from www.readingarts.com, priced £8 adult, £5 child and £15 family.

The Reading-on-Thames Festival programme will also include:-

  • Reading’s Royal Burial, Henry I of England. Reading’s nationally acclaimed theatre company, Reading Between The Lines (RBL), will be telling the extraordinary story of Henry I’s last journey, as his body travelled the River Kennet to the magnificent Reading Abbey. (Friday 15 September – Oracle Riverside). Free
  • Playground Victories. SITELINES presents a Light The Fuse and Scribbled Thought production in Broad Street. A huge playground waits to be conquered. A joyfully comic theatre and circus show for all ages. (Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September). Free
  • Reading’s Beautiful Creatures Theatre will be presenting an immersive audio-walking experience, Echoes Around View Island, using a specially designed map and mp3 player to explore the hidden Thames-side island. (9-17 September). Free
  • All of a Twist will explore the science and technology of twisty-turny stuff on Reading’s rivers at The Turbine House on The Kennet (2 – 15 September). Free
  • Abbey on Wheels will be popping up at Caversham Court Gardens to tell the history of the Abbey Quarter and conservation of Reading Abbey (Saturday 16 September). Free
  • LEGO fans will be invited to get involved in an awesome LEGO® Brick building event at Broad Street Mall with Brick Galleria to construct a scale model of the Thames in Reading out of thousands of LEGO® bricks (Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September).
  • Two Rivers Press will be offering walking tours of the river banks (16 & 17 September) and a self-guided river writing trail of the Thames(9- 17 September).
  • What’s the point of rivers, anyway? Sponsored by Barton Willmore, this series of events will look at how we use the river and traces how water has shaped our thinking over centuries. Poetry along the river, children’s workshops, discussions and debates about city life in Reading (11 – 17 September – specific dates/venues TBC). Free
  • Liquid History’s opera walkabout inspired by objects found in the tidal parts of the Thames. Caversham Court Gardens (Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September). Pay what you can.
  • The Reading-on-Thames Festival has been planned to link with Heritage Open Days 2017 (7-10 September), and many of these events will be included in the Festival programme. Free.
  • ARENA – a Festival taster will take place in Reading town centre at weekends in July and August with free pop up events inspired by Reading’s waterways. Free

R+, Reading’s newest office building, is the lead sponsor of the Reading-on-Thames Festival 2017. A spokesperson for R+, said: “It is Reading’s arts and culture that makes it one of the best places to live and work in the UK. In 2016, R+ sponsored the Pride of Reading Cultural Award for ‘Encouraging Young People in Arts’, and we are delighted to once again support the great work that is being done by Reading UK CIC.”

Generous support from Arts Council England along with the support of R+ and a number of other private sector partners has made this new festival possible. Reading businesses sponsoring the Festival include:- Jacobs The Jewellers,  Savills, Barton Willmore, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Reading Business Improvement District (BID), Oracle Shopping Centre and Broad Street Mall with additional support from Reading Borough Council, Thames River Cruises, Reading Buses and University of Reading.

The Reading-on-Thames Festival is being produced by Zsuzsi Lindsay on behalf of Reading UK CIC.

Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director of Reading UK CIC, said: “This new festival comes about as a direct result of last year’s Reading Year of Culture. Reading’s vibrant arts scene is developing into a real asset to the people living and working in Reading as well as a draw to businesses and people considering relocating here. The Reading-on-Thames Festival will celebrate Reading’s riverfront locations and heritage and provide a great platform to showcase the diversity and range of arts, culture and heritage in the town.”

Programme at www.readingonthamesfestival.org

*Walk The Plank’s River Stories will take place on 16 September subject to licensing approval.