6 – 16 September 2018


Festival programme

Confirmed Festival events in date order

More information can be found in our Reading-on-Thames Festival Newspaper

Heritage Open Days 2018

Thursday 6 - Sunday 9 September & Thursday 13 - Sunday 16 September

Visit many of Reading's historic buildings free of charge during this year's two Heritage Open Days events.  A downloadable map of all the venues open is now available. Printed map guides are also available through libraries in Reading. All venues are free to visit. 


Local Heroes

Throughout the Festival, across Reading and online

Various venues

The festival is launching a new photography commission commissioning one photographer to create five portrait photographs of Reading ‘ local heroes.’ Nominate someone you feel is a local hero who lives or works in the Reading area, and who will agree to having a portrait photograph created and displayed in Reading town centre. An invited, commissioned photographer will create portraits which will be displayed across Reading, online and within festival and partner marketing materials. Read more about the commissioned photographer, Salvo Toscano.

A Reading on Thames Festival Commission.

See the portraits


Landscape Energy Structure Art

Turbine House, Riverside Museum, Blake's Lock, Kenavon Drive, Reading RG1 3DH

Wednesday 5 - Sunday 16 September, 10AM - 6PM

An exhibition by two local artists Michael Garaway and Lynda South. who present new work observing changing landscapes in and around Reading. 

Free entry.

More information


Reading Film Trail

Thursday 6 - 16 September

Various venues 

The London Short Film Festival (LSSF) has curated a special visual film trail responding to Reading's waterways, heritage and communities for the Reading on Thames festival. Renowned as “the best short film festival in the world!”, the London Short Film Festival has been recognised as the premiere UK showcase for cutting edge homegrown and international short film.  Across five venues, this site-specific visual film trail will present a mixing, moving abstract imagery and silent film,  tailored to each site with audiences able to drop in at any point. Opening times at each venues will be announced shortly together with film programme detail.

A Reading on Thames Festival Commissioned Event.

Ticket price: Free

More information


GRRRL feat. Charlotte Adigéry - In Place of War

Thursday 6 September, 7:30 - 10:50pm

The Concert Hall, Reading Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH

GRRRL presents a Reading on Thames festival live music exclusive! In Place of War presents a bespoke, electronic collaboration that promises to be the live performance event of the year! Get involved for a dance-off with a twist – taking place in the grand, historic setting of Reading’ s best kept secret, the historic Concert Hall, GRRRL presents revolutionary independent female artists from across the world, brought together by global charity In Place Of War. Together, these six influential artists from Brazil, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Bangladesh and the UK have worked with Laima Leyton (Mixhell/Soulwax) to create a studio and touring project that fuses together sounds of dark techno, ghetto bass, hip hop, dancehall, reggae, soul and electronica.

Ticket Price: £15 Full Price  / £8 Concessions

Book and more information


Theodore Zeldin's Feast of Strangers -  SOLD OUT

Friday 7 September, 7 PM

The Roost, Floor 14, Thames Tower, Station Rd, Reading RG1 1LX

Join renowned Oxford University philosopher, historian and author Theodore Zeldin for his Feast of Strangers. You will be invited to enjoy a delicious meal opposite a total stranger. By working through a menu of different questions, each diner will reflect on how they are spending their lives, drawing new conclusions from their own experiences and gaining an understanding of one another.

Ticket Price: £10 Full Price / £5 Concessions

Sold out


Reading on Thames Walking Tours

Friday 7 September, Tuesday 11 September & Saturday 15 September

Reading fountain of local knowledge, Terry Dixon, will lead three walking tours, two of which respond specifically to the 2018 nationwide celebration marking the 100-year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which first gave some women the right to vote.

Friday 7 September, 10 AM -  Vote 100 Walking Tour Part 1 (60 – 75 minutes appx.) 

Tuesday 11 September, 10 AM -  Vote 100 Walking Tour Part 2 (120 minutes appx.)

Saturday 15 September, 10 AM, Reading Walkabout including the Reading Abbey Ruins and  how Reading impacted world history (150 minutes appx.) SOLD OUT

Capacity per walk 17 maximum

Tickets: Adults £5, Child £2 (5+), Family of 4 £12. (Under 5 are free).

Book and more information

Night in the Ruins (SOLD OUT)

Reading Abbey Ruins

Saturday 8 September, 6:45 - 11 PM

Celebrate the end of summer in the Abbey with live music and atmospheric illuminations. Enjoy our headline act the multi-instrumental Flamingods plus their special guests, arranged by Are You Listening? Festival. As light begins to fall, watch the ruins be brought to life with an exciting and dynamic light installation, which echoes the live music and the crescendo of the evening entertainment. Designer Stuart Melrose has taken inspiration from the Abbey Ruins themselves to create a spectacular finale to our summer of reopening events.

More information


Guided Film Trail, with Philip Ilson (London Short Film Festival)

Saturday 8 September

Join London Short Film Festival's Artistic Director Philip Ilson for this guided walk around the Reading on Thames Festival Film Trail, which he curated. Philip will introduce the films on the trail, and there will be opportunities for questions along the way.
You are welcome to attend all or part of the trail. The talks will be at the following venues at these times:
St Laurence Church will not be a part of this Guided Film Trail, but is still taking part in the Reading on Thames Festival Film Trail.


RDG Bayeux Tapestry for Reading on Thames Festival 

Jelly, 53 Broad Street Mall, Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7QE

Tuesday 11 September, drop in from 10am-2pm

Join us at Jelly for a FREE stitching session and help create a contemporary reworking of Reading’s famous Bayeux Tapestry. The panel started life to help launch a new book on the tapestry published by Two Rivers Press and Kate Powell and Sally Castle are designing panel with as much input from Reading people as possible. The stitching started at Jelly's Open for Art festival in July, has been worked on at Reading Museum and now as part of the Reading on Thames Fesitival the panel will continue to grow over the year. 

You don't have to be a pro, just drop in and contribute to continuing a piece of Reading's history. 

We ask that you register your interest here 

The High Sheriff of Berkshire's Concert presents The London Mozart Players

Tuesday 11 September, 7 - 8:30 PM

The Concert Hall, Reading Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH

 Celebrating their 70th year as one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, the London Mozart Players are delighted to present a programme of classical favourites for the High Sherriff’s concert. From the delicate strains of Mozart’s Divertimento in D K.136 and the soaring bucolic melodies of Elgar’s Serenade, to the moving Adagio for strings by Barber, and the exuberance of Tchaikovsky’s balletic writing in his Serenade for Strings, there is something for everyone in this programme.

A Reading on Thames Festival Commission. With thanks to the generous support of Graham and Joanna Barker.

Ticket Price: £10 Full Price  / £5 Concessions


Book tickets and more information

The Happy Prince

Tuesday 11 September, 7:30 PM

Reading Film Theatre

British literary legend Oscar Wilde was interned in Reading Gaol inspiring his literary classic The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Ten years in the making, The Happy Prince looks at the life of Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett)  after his release from the Reading Gaol. Lying on his death bed, Wilde’s eventful life comes flooding back via expertly interspersed flashbacks, featuring his glory days as the toast of the literary establishment and the beginning of his downfall – cast out by his humiliated ex-wife Constance (Emily Watson), though still supported by loyal allies Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas) and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth). 

Ticket price: (Non Members) £8.50 online / £9 on the door /(Concessions) £7.50 online / £8 on the door / (Members) £5.50 online / £6 on the door

Book tickets and more information


I, Daniel Blake (96 minutes, Certificate 15)

Thursday 13 September, 7:30 PM

Reading Film Theatre

Responding to the recent BFI season on Working Class Culture, the festival is proud to partner with Reading Film Theatre to present British veteran director Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, which tells the story a 59-year-old widowed carpenter (Dave Johns) who must rely on welfare after a recent heart attack leaves him unable to work. Despite his doctor's diagnosis, British authorities deny Blake's benefits and tell him to return to his job. As Daniel navigates his way through an agonizing appeal process, he begins to develop a strong bond with a destitute, single mother (Hayley Squires) who's struggling to take care of her two children.

We are very pleased to confirm that Matt Rodda, our local MP, has agreed to come and take part in a Q&A session after the screening of I, Daniel Blake. In the event of him being called away on Parliamentary business he will nominate a substitute speaker.

Ticket Price (Non Members) £8.50 online / £9 on the door /(Concessions)  £7.50 (Concessions) / (Members) £5.50 online / £6 on the door

Book tickets and more information

Glitter Face by Reading Rep Young Company

Friday 14 September, 7PM

Reading Studio, Reading College, Kings Road, RG1 4HU

Seven friends pick their way through a festival, looking for their missing friend and exploring how their world of hedonistic escapism both improves and deteriorates their mental health. Witty and humourous, Glitter Face aims to throw new light on the still taboo subject of mental health and discuss how its treatments change for those going through big transitions in life. It also challenges ideas and stereotypes and explores all the different meanings and interpretations of the phrase: just walk it off.

*Please note, this piece directly addresses themes of mental health and suicide.

Book tickets and more information.

Cirque Bijou, A Circus Soiree -  SOLD OUT

Saturday 15 September, 6.30pm – 9.00pm

Caversham Court Gardens, Church Rd, Reading RG4 7AD


Following their involvement at the groundbreaking Lumière London Cirque Bijou will be coming to Reading!

Roll up, roll up. It is the 250th anniversary of circus in Britain and across the country, artists, communities and audiences are coming together to celebrate this most accessible, most thrilling and most liberating of art forms. Set against the beautiful and atmospheric backdrop of Caversham  Court Gardens, Cirque Bijou bring the party to Reading with an immersive evening of the most contemporary of circus. Combining traditional skills and daredevilry with modern technology, live music and sophisticated styling, you will witness beautiful, graceful and inspiring performances supported by performances from the communities of Reading against this unique riverside backdrop. Come dressed for a night at the circus...

An accessible event for all the family.  

Ticket Price: £8 Full Price  / £5 Concessions

Book tickets and more information

The Reading Midnight Run - SOLD OUT

Saturday 15 September, 6 PM – 12 Midnight

Various venues across Reading  (please note - this is a walking event)

Get to know the Artists here!

The Midnight Run (MNR) is a walking, arts-filled, night-time cultural journey through urban spaces. It gathers strangers and local artists together to explore, play and create, whilst the city sleeps. The MNR aims to break down social barriers and provide a platform for established and emerging creatives, bringing moments of genuine interactive creativity. The Midnight Run is also a containment for conversation and The Reading Midnight Run will respond and investigate Reading’s secret histories, its heritage and the town today. Join in to explore, excavate and discuss aspects of Reading. Expect the unexpected and come to have fun. A Reading on Thames Festival Commission.

Ticket Price: £10 Full Price  / £5 Concessions (without food); £20 Full Price  / £15 Concessions (with food)

Book tickets and more information

Up, Down and Along by Laura Mugridge

Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September, 11 AM, 2 PM  & 6 PM

Starting from Thames Lido

SITELINES in association with Reading on Thames Festival present Up, Down and Along by Laura Mugridge. Take a walk along the Thames Path with award-winning performer Laura Mugridge. Stories drawn from five current residents of Reading will unfold around you while you walk. Stop halfway for an outdoor silent disco! Along the way there will be music, comedy, stories and whatever weather Reading chooses on the day. This piece involves the audience walking for around 70 minutes with Laura and up to twenty other audience members. A Reading on Thames Festival Commission. 

Ticket Price: £7 Full Price  / £5 Concessions

Book tickets and more information

The Dedication of Reading Abbey by Reading Between The Lines  SOLD OUT

By Beth Flintoff
Directed by Hal Chambers

Sunday 16 September, 1pm & 4pm 

The Oracle, Riverside

Following the success of last year's Reading's Royal Burial, award-winning, nationally acclaimed local theatre company, RBL, are delighted to be returning to The Oracle. Set outside at Oracle Riverside, RBL present The Dedication of Reading Abbey, a new play about the consecration of Reading Abbey.

Sold out

From Town to Boundary: guided riverside walk 

Saturday 15 September, 10:30 AM & 2:00 PM

Reading Cultural Award winners Two Rivers Press and Reading Tree Wardens invite you to a riverside walk exploring Reading's history, dramatic events, famous people, arts, industries, trees and nature, quirky stories, as we take a circular walk to Horseshoe Bridge starting from the Caversham pedestrian bridge. This will be a choreographed event with expertise from both organisations, pausing to recount history, tell stories, recite poems and highlight the beautiful natural environment.

Join us on Saturday 15 September, either at 10.30.am. or 2.00.pm. at Caversham pedestrian bridge.

The event is free, but for everyone's enjoyment, we are keeping the numbers to 40 max. and you will need to produce acknowledgement of your booking with rtwn2011@gmail.com. Just drop us a line and we will confirm your booking.

Download the map guide to the walk developed for this year's festival