Festival Guide...

WasWasEre’s Reading Festival Guide.

My first Reading Festival was in 1987 featuring the now legendaryAll About Eve, Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission Friday night goth fest! This will be my 17th Reading Festival (and my 18th Cure gig!).

I was also the lead councillor responsible for Licensing (alcohol and music], Trading Standards, Food Safety, Taxis and Environmental Health for the 2010 festival. I have some experience in these matters :-D

Unlike other festivals, this is practically in town. There are good campsite shops and the town centre is a reasonable walking distance. Better to travel light and stock up with beer and food when you get here rather than lug dead weight. 48 cans of beer is 24 Kg!!!


If travelling by car, use the designated car parks. You will get a hefty fine if you park in a residents’ parking zone. Also be very careful in the town centre. There are concealed bus lane cameras and misleading signs. The council made £2.6m from motorists last year. Don’t be one of them.

From the station, Reading Buses run a frequent £1 festival special. Exact change only. I’d recommend it, but then I would wouldn't I? I was a director of the bus company for three years ;-)

If there are 4 or more of you then a taxi may be a better option. It will be slightly more per person but the drop off is closer and they are black cabs so can hold more camping gear. Watch out if using them on Monday. Bank Holiday tariffs are double!

For my first 5 Reading Festivals I “commuted” daily from London. If you live in London there are late trains back so no need to leave early on Friday. If The Cure do play until midnight, there is a 0015, 0039 and a 0115 service. Don’t run for the 0015 unless you need an intermediate station as the 0039 gets into Paddington only one minute later.

Saturday travellers note that the trains are at 0003 and 0135 only (because technically it's a Sunday morning). Unlike two decades ago, you cannot sleep at the station any more!

After Sunday night you should have no problem as there is a train to London every hour or more throughout the night. In fact if you are camping, going via London and want a tip, a late night get away is recommended.

Train boarding times up to 2pm at Reading Station on the Monday can sometimes take up to 2 hours.

A top tip is to try to get to Earley station and use the London Waterloo line. Last year the trains were almost empty whilst Reading station still had queues. A connecting train from Tilehurst station may also work. I've not tried it, so this is at your own risk.


The nearest big supermarket is the Tesco in Portman Road. There is another in King’s Meadow... but save yourself the walk!

For smaller scale (but still pretty big) there is a Waitrose in Caversham (just over Caversham Bridge) and Sainsburys in the town centre. There are also Tesco/Sainsburys locals in town.

There is an onsite "supermarket". Prices are here.


My recommendations for Cure fans are: (1) The Purple Turtle (2) Pavlov’s Dog (in that order).

The Moderation is a good pub... but may be a little crowded as it is the bus drop off point and closest pub to the festival if you don't count the Toby Carvery.

Another good pub for a morning fry-up is The Nag’s Head which because of its location doesn’t get much passing festival traffic and is a perfectly acceptable walk.

The Gorge is not a pub but the finest purveyor of greasy grub in Reading :-D

Festival Site

Festival site map can be found here.

Leave yourself plenty of time if on a non-guest pass. The entrance is at the back of the site away from the main stage and the walk may catch you out if you are in a rush to see a band.

Toilets are pretty good for a festival site. There is an increase in capacity this year which Festival Republic has taken into consideration so hopefully it will be acceptable. As with all festivals, take your own toilet paper!

There is a barrier across the middle of the main arena, so if heading for the front, go down the sides, then inwards or you will find your passage blocked.

Keep your wits about you, but don’t be unduly worried. I’ve never felt threatened at Reading Festival so don’t believe what others may have said. The campsites are under surveilance and patrolled. Thefts from tents are the most common problem but relatively rare but that doesn't mean you can leave valuables behind. To put things in context, last year there were 140 incidents reported over the weekend, 50 of which were drug related. That's in a crowd of 87,000 over three days.

Festival security is traditionally very friendly, tolerant... but firm. The policing is also there to prevent trouble not to cause it [as may have been the case in the past!] If you have problems report it. There is a festival police "station".

I’ve been to the control room during the festival. If you cause trouble... you will be on camera.

Food and Drink

Festival food is good quality if slightly expensive. Prices are tightly controlled. You can download the 2012 price list here.

Any concession charging more or not showing a price list will be shut down. There are random inspections and a prize for best food outlet. My favourite is "Wraps and Baps" which won the Al Fresco prize in 2010. This is for food hygiene as well as being good grub prize.

Even the burger vans on the way to the festival need a licence. Unauthorised ones will be shut down by the council.

The festival is offering a free beer and breakfast bap for each day this year to offset the ticket cost but please note the following:

You will need to collect the breakfast bap before 12pm (the clue is in the name). For day trippers the free beer is a little more problematic as you get that when you get your wristband. It will not be allowed in the arena so be prepared to drink it all! I will be on hand to help out with that :-D

Do not buy used wristbands. You will not get in and will lose your money.

Banned Items

The following items may not be brought into the site through the campsite gates:

o Aerosols over 250ml
o Air horns
o Alcohol in the possession of under 18 year olds
o All gas canisters of any size (including nitrous oxide)
o Any goods for unauthorised trading
o Any goods with unauthorised Reading/Leeds Festival logos
o Any items which may reasonably be considered for use as a weapon
o Audio recorders
o Chinese lanterns
o Excessive amounts of alcohol
o Excessive amounts of cigarettes
o Excessive amounts of food
o Fireworks
o Flares
o Generators
o Glass bottles, jars, containers
o Illegal substances
o Legal highs
o Megaphones
o Portable laser equipment and pens
o Sound systems
o Unauthorised professional film or video equipment
o Unofficial tabards and reflective jackets
o Firewood and Alcohol after 6pm on Sunday evening only

All items will be confiscated.

Reading Cure facts

  • Simon Gallup is a Reading FC fan so I expect he will have his flag draped over his bass amp... as has been his custom for the last decade.
  • The Cure last played Reading Festival in 1979 where despite some reports they went down well (having fortuitously bigged up Robert's faves Thin Lizzy)
  • Disintegration was recorded just up the road less than 5 miles away if you want to pay homage! [Hook End Studios]
Looking at the European Festivals set lists I'm expecting a good mix of old/new then a storming greatest hits encore(s) :-D

Scheduled stage time is 2100. Finish 2330. However, the site is licenced for music from the main stage until midnight ;-)

I usually create a stage times file for myself so that I can plan the day. You can download a PDF of Friday's times here. Saturday's stage times are here.

These times are from the official site and are subject to change (especially if the rumours of Green Day playing a surprise set are true).

The best local paper is getReading. They published an 8-page pull out on Wednesday 20th but this will still be in the shops over the weekend. Cure headlining story is here. Pictures of the Festival will be in the following Wednesday's edition. [Andy, I think you missed a trick there!]

Reading Buses are on @reading_buses and they are good at answering questions.

I'm on Twitter as @waswasere if you want to get in contact or want more details about anything in particular.

I have made previous blog posts about The Cure.

I think my post from 27th Feb 2009 is particularly relevant :-D I cheekily asked Melvin Benn to book The Cure as headliners in a 2008 meeting when I was vice-chair of the Council's Culture and Sport committee!

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