Newest Review: ... if people don't like rock music they dont have to sit through anything they don't like. The main acts I went to see was 30 seconds to m... more
2010 here I come!
Member Name: BlaEm
Advantages: Excellent atmosphere, convenient camping, lots of variety
Disadvantages: It's getting expensive & difficult to buy tickets; questionable reliability of bank holiday weather
I have been to Reading Festival 4 times - I was gutted that I couldn't go this year, but I've already bought my presale ticket for 2010 and I can't wait!
Who should go??
Of course, your enjoyment of any festival is going to depend on your attitude to camping, who you're going with, how you feel about the line-up and so on. But the thing I really love about Reading is the amazing atmosphere (and I've been fortunate enough to only go when the weather has been pretty good!), which has been lacking from some other festivals I've been too - even when I preferred the music.
I think the age range of Reading is anywhere between 16 annd 35 - my dad mocks me for being too old to be interested in festivals and I'm only 22! There do seem to be an increasing amount of tweenies (and emos!), but maybe it's just because I'm getting older rather than the crowd getting younger. It isn't that unusual to see rocker families with younger children there, either.
Price and ticket availability
I am disappointed at how expensive it has gotten in recent years, and how difficult it's become to get tickets. When I first went, my college friends and I spent an entire week after tickets were released working out the group logistics of borrowing our parents' credit cards; it took about a month for the tickets to sell out.
Ever since then, I've gone for the presale option. The drawback is that you don't know the lineup (although, to be honest, when they are released in earnest at c.the end of March, you now already have to be on the phone *before* you even know who is playing to stand a chance of success), and now I am no longer a lazy student I don't know if I'll even be free for it. Also, unless you know other people who choose the presale route, you might find yourself spending the weekend alone in a field as no one else could get tickets! :)
They've now stopped selling tickets at the box office on the day, although having queued for 7 hours among revellers who were getting steadily drunker/irritated, I wouldn't recommend doing that! But I have had to pick up my pre-ordered ticket from the box office in previous years as their useless courier service kept on flaking on arranged deliveries, so it is worrying to know that I couldn't do that any more. The organisers believe that they can 'stop the touts' by issuing tickets at the last possible moment, but this is really inconvenient (especially, as I've said, if you are no longer a lazy student!)
Parking & Camping
You can pre-order car parking tickets, and I've been able to show up on the day and park before. The car parks are basically big fields - I wouldn't rate them for their security, and I remember well a car in the White carpark exploding in 2008! I've only ever parked in Green; from there, you can walk to a ferry port to take you to the site, but be prepared to wait. My biggest recommendation would be to either pack as light as possible or invest in some kind of trolly device, as it's *very* painful trying to lug two tents, a gazebo and a crate of beer up to the site! It's pretty easy to walk in to town, or to Lidl, so it's a much ebtter idea to set up and then stock up.
Reading gets top marks for it's camping facilities. If you pay a little extra for early entry, or get there *really* early on Thursday, you should have no trouble finding a large spot to set up a little 'camp'. Unlike at Download, all the camp sites are an easy distance from the Arena. You also get a choice of sites that have their own particular reputation - for example, yellow is the stay-up-all-night-and-party camp, so avoid at all cost if you intend to sleep and go for green instead!
When I last went you were also allowed to have a gazebo, which is good for letting you have a good night even if it's raining (though watch out for gazebo-theives!)
In the Arena
...it is EXPENSIVE! And you're not allowed to bring any alcohol in - I have seen some pretty inventive ways of trying to get around that rule, though!
It can be quite a throng to get in, especially just before it starts and also before any big name acts. If you really want to see a band, I'd recommend leaving a bit of time to actually get in.
The security staff are reasonably pleasant and patient, given the circumstances, but of course if you show up high and start mouthing off they won't let you in.
The Arena is massive, with a fair few stages and tons of bars and eateries - I would recommend buying a lanyard, they're a bit of a rip-off but it's useful to have the map.
The Festival is excellent because of it's variety, you are sure to find something there to suit your tastes. The fact that they also have things like comedy shows makes it feel like a proper festival, rather than just a music event.
As I mentioned before, the atmosphere is just excellent, even from early on in the day. They do a good job of getting bands on who are really suited to playing festivals and psych the crowd up (although I have to say that some of the headliners I've seen have been really boring - a number one album + popular radio ditty does not make you good at getting the crowd going). For the most part, Reading normally gets the best headliner on the Sunday (sorry, Leeds!) which means that the festival finishes on a real high.
I've tried to give my general thoughts without too much consideration for who is playing, as obviously next year's line-up is anyone's guess. But as long as the weather holds up for me next year I'm sure I'll have a thoroughly enjoyable if very expensive weekend reliving my yoof!
Summary: This is my pick of the British festivals. Enjoy it!
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
- Firemore Sands (Scotland)
- Autosport International Show
- The Light Cinema (New Brighton, Wirral)
- Llanteg Village Hall
- Go Wild (Rainham)
- Heacham Beach Holiday Park (Norfolk)
- CBDS Children Building Drive Skate Learning Center (East Kilbride)
- Chesterfield Library (Chesterfield)
- The Howard, Rosedale Abbey (Pickering)