Reading-on-Thames Festival
9 – 17 September 2017

Sponsored by:

A new arts and cultural festival for Reading

We are excited to announce the inaugural Reading-on-Thames Festival will take place in, on and around Reading’s wonderful waterways between 9 and 17 September.

A waterfront town

Reading’s early history as a river port was based on the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kennet here, and with the Holy Brook also flowing under the town, Reading has been a waterfront town for well over a thousand years.

A stunning backdrop for the arts

The first ever Reading-on-Thames Festival will use Reading’s rivers as a backdrop and inspiration for a new arts and cultural festival, bringing national arts organisations to Reading and providing a platform for local arts and community organisations to showcase their talent.

Festival programme

Please see ticketing information for each individual event below or view the festival programme here. No need to book if no booking information is shown.

River Stories by Walk the Plank

Award-winning outdoor arts company Walk the Plank will be creating a special theatrical event, taking as its inspiration the rich tapestry of stories of the River Thames and its cultural and historical significance for Reading. Working with artists and the people of Reading, this multi-sensory spectacle will delight people of all ages with lights, music, fire and pyrotechnics. See and experience the river in a way you hadn’t imagined before.

Venue and date:
Caversham Court Gardens
Saturday 16 September, 7:45pm (doors at 6pm)

Tickets:
Adult £8 / child £5 / family ticket £15
Tickets from Reading Arts

Supported by:
Arts Council England

SITELINES presents Playground Victories

SITELINES presents a Light the Fuse & Scribbled Thought production. A huge playground waits to be conquered. Performers climb, crawl, swing and storm over it playing children, adults, teenagers, drunken students, single mums and even playground wildlife. Funny and physical, Playground Victories captures the highs and lows of our playground past, present and future from first snogs to pirate adventures. A joyfully comic theatre and circus show for all ages, from the people that brought Full Stop to Reading in 2015.

Venue and date:
Broad Street (outside M&S)
Saturday 9 September & Sunday 10 September
Performances at 12 noon, 2pm & 4pm. Running time 30 minutes

Tickets:
FREE. No need to book, just turn up

Sponsored by:
Reading Business Improvement District

Reading's Royal Burial, The Life and Death of Reading's King

Henry I of England’s body was shipped from France to England in 1136 to be buried in one of Europe’s most magnificent buildings: Reading Abbey. Written by Elizabeth Park and directed by Olivier award-winning theatre director, Donnacadh O’Briain, Reading’s nationally acclaimed theatre company, Reading Between The Lines (RBL), are delighted to be performing this production at The Oracle Riverside. The hour-long spectacle will tell the story of Henry I’s life and how he came to be buried in Reading. Music by composers Benjamin Hudson and Rosalind Steele (BBC Radio Radio 1, 3 & 6, festivals worldwide and theatres across the county) and lighting design by Oliver Welsh (London Olympics 2012).

Venue and date:
The Oracle Riverside
Friday 15 September, 7.30pm

Tickets:
FREE ticketed event. Book at www.readingbetweenthelines.co.uk

Sponsored by:
The Oracle
R+

Supported by:
Arts Council England

What’s the Point of Rivers, Anyway?

Join us for a series of events curated by Amy Sharrocks in collaboration with Barton Willmore, University of Reading, Museum of English Rural Life and Two Rivers Press. There will be poetry along the river, children’s workshops, discussions and debates about city life in Reading, looking at how we use our river and tracing how water has shaped our thinking over centuries.

Venues and dates:
Monday 11 September – Crowne Plaza Reading
– #RiverCity Drinks Reception, 7.30 – 9pm

Saturday 16 September – Christchurch Meadows
– Cry me a River: water as metaphor, 11am – 12.30pm
– Murky Depths, 1 – 2.30pm
– Children's Workshops, 3 – 5pm

Sunday 17 September – Christchurch Meadows
– Children's Choir, 1 – 3pm
– What's the Point of Rivers, Anyway?, 3 – 5pm

Tickets:
FREE. Find out more about all these events

Sponsored by:
Barton Willmore

River Writing

Follow the Thames from its meeting with the Kennet at Horseshoe Bridge up to Kings Meadow and reflect on the vivid imagery in Ian House's poem 'Masterstroke' reproduced in individual phrases along the riverside in Sally Castle's evocative hand-lettering. Search out the whole poem using the postcard guide to help and see the river in a whole new light.

Dates:
Saturday 9 September – Sunday 17 September

Tickets and guide:
FREE. Pick up a postcard self-guide for 50p from Reading Museum.

Abbey on Wheels

Reading Abbey on Wheels will be popping up at Caversham Court Gardens to tell the history of Reading’s Abbey Quarter and the current Abbey conservation project. Come and see what has been found during the conservation project to date. Wear a virtual-reality headset and be transported to the top of the conservation scaffold to get a unique perspective of the ongoing work. Handle real museum objects from Reading Abbey or take part in other activities on the day.

Venue and date:
Caversham Court Gardens
Saturday 16 September, 11am – 3pm

Tickets:
FREE. No need to book

Echoes Around View Island

Take a promenade across Caversham Lock and re-discover View Island, surrounding yourself with the watery words of poetry, prose and song from performances of the past. With a map and individual audio equipment, take a secret journey around View Island whilst you are immersed in classic and contemporary texts, chosen to reflect specific locations on the island. Sit under the bowers of an old yew tree, traverse across the weir, shelter in the glade, wrapped in theatrical echoes.

Venue and dates:
View Island, Caversham Lock
Sunday 10 September, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm or 3pm

Tickets:
£4. Book www.viewisland.eventbrite.co.uk
Each journey will last between 40-50mins. .

Meet us at our gazebo at Kings Meadow Carpark, Napier Road, Caversham, Reading, RG1 8DF to collect your map and audio equipment, and begin your journey.
Accessible performances are available for those with visual, hearing and mobility impairments. Please email Beautiful Creatures to arrange an accessible performance.

Liquid History Mouth of the River

An opera walkabout inspired by objects found in the tidal parts of the Thames, performed by five singers representing the objects and the river itself. Liquid History use song, physical theatre and carnival to tell the story of the river’s mouth and the objects from its depths. The project has been developed with the help of mudlarks from The Thames Museum and the physical manner in which The Thames churns and turns the objects round and organises them onto the shoreline.

Venue and date:
Madejski Gallery at Reading Museum. Please note, this event is no longer taking place at Caversham Court Gardens
Saturday 16 September, 1pm and 3pm

Tickets:
Pay what you can

All of a Twist

Inspired by Reading's Victorian pumping station, this exhibition explores the science and technology of twisty turny stuff in, on, above and beside Reading's rivers. Turbines, watermills, spinning, willow, DNA, spirogyra, thermals, tornadoes and the rivers' flow itself have all affected Reading, its monks, red kites, rowers, canoeists and us one way or another.

Venue and date:
The Turbine House, Blake’s Lock, by Bel and the Dragon, off Kenavon Drive
Saturday 2 September – Friday 15 September, 10am – 6pm

Tickets:
FREE

Building Reading-on-Thames LEGO® Brick Big Build

Come and be part of an awesome LEGO® Brick Building event at Broad Street Mall. Join local LEGO® brick model-building company, Brick Galleria, to construct a scale model of Reading on the Thames out of thousands of LEGO® bricks. Whether it is your house, a bridge or a boat to go on the river, let your imagination flow using the bricks provided and help create the biggest brick model of Reading on the Thames.

Dates:
Broad Street Mall
Saturday 16 September, 9am – 5.30pm and Sunday 17 September, 10am – 4.30pm)

Tickets:
FREE More information at www.broadstreetmall.com

Sponsored by:
Broad Street Mall

River heritage walks with Two Rivers Press

Reading’s own publisher, Two Rivers Press, originated in a protest to maintain the tranquillity of the riverside where the Thames and Kennet meet. Two Rivers’ books continue to champion Reading - its rebels and its traditionalists; the beauty of its rivers and the heritage of its industry; its art, poetry and history. Join their writers for a series of riverside walks during the festival. The river heritage walks are supported by the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Venue and date:
Meet at Crowne Plaza Hotel by Caversham Bridge
Saturday 16 September, 11am & Sunday 17 September, 2pm.
2 hours long

Tickets:
FREE

Heritage Open Days 2017

The Reading-on-Thames Festival has been planned to link with Heritage Open Days 2017 when many places of historic interest in Reading open their doors for England’s biggest heritage festival. Heritage Open Days offer the chance to visit a variety of magnificent heritage venues, many not usually open to the public. Enjoy a range of different events, activities and tours that bring local history and culture to life! All of the heritage buildings are FREE to explore!

Date:
Thursday 7 September – Sunday 10 September
See Heritage Open Day website for details of venues opening.

Tickets:
FREE

ARENA

Running at weekends in July and August, the ARENA programme is a taster of things to come in the Reading-on-Thames Festival. The programme of free events takes its inspiration from Reading’s waterways and will include a street carnival from Culture Mix Arts, live orchestral performances at Reading Station by Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, remakes of classic river films, from ‘The African Queen’ to ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Real Time, a giant puppet event featuring some of Reading’s cultural icons such as Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and Arabella Fermour as well as a pop-up paddle steamer in Broad Street from Annual Day Dream Harvest and an artistic tracing of Reading’s hidden waterways with chalk drawings and hundreds of balloons by Jelly. Find out more information here.

Dates:
From Sunday 2 July to Saturday 19 August

Tickets:
FREE

Sponsored by:
Reading Business Improvement District

Fry’s Island Swim

The Fry’s Island Swim will be a 750m swim around Fry’s Island at Caversham Lock opening up our glorious river Thames for an early evening swim. Just a generation ago, swimming in the Thames here was commonplace. Intrepid sailors travel across faraway seas to chart new islands; we will discover a swimming lane right here for the circumnavigation of Fry's Island. Join artist Amy Sharrocks and 50 other swimmers for a celebratory swim to bring the Reading-on-Thames Festival to a close with a dip in the water and put the river back at the heart of our city. Ever wondered what it was like in the water? Once around the island!

We will have safety boats and land support for the swim, but of course everyone swims at their own risk. With thanks to the Outdoor Swimming Society for their ongoing support and advice.

Venue and date:
Fry’s Island at Caversham Lock
Sunday 17 September, 5 – 7pm

Tickets:
FREE but you must register to take part. Sign up here.

River Rhymetime!

Join staff from Reading Borough Libraries in this song and rhyme session with percussion. Suitable for babies, toddlers and their caregivers. The session will include traditional favourites along with river and sea themed nursery rhymes and songs! Rhymetimes demonstrate one way you can incorporate fun early learning experiences in to your child’s day – check out the sessions available in Reading Libraries here.

Venue and date:
Caversham Court Gardens
Saturday 16 September, 12 noon

Tickets:
FREE. No need to book, just turn up

Supporters

The Reading-on-Thames Festival is sponsored by R+, the landmark new office building opposite Reading Station and Reading UK CIC, the marketing and operating company for Reading. Generously supported by Arts Council England.

Programme sponsors and other supporters:

About us

The Reading-on-Thames Festival is organised by Reading UK CIC, the marketing and operating company for Reading, with support from Reading Borough Council, Reading Arts and the University of Reading.

Reading UK CIC were the lead partner for 2016’s Reading Year of Culture and are the organisers for the inaugural Reading Cultural Awards 2017 later this month.

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 arts, culture and heritage in the town.’

Contact us:

Zsuzsi Lindsay, Producer, Reading-on-Thames Festival. Email Zsuzsi or telephone 07754 918570.