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Reading Guide

So very nearly a city, so very reasonable in price – there’s no shortage of things to do in Reading. It’s not exactly a tourist hotspot, but there’s still a huge range of cultural monuments, castles and museums to see… and more importantly, as the biggest town in the UK, there’s plenty to do!


Reading is one of the top ten retail destinations in the country – not bad for somewhere that’s not even technically a city. The array on offer is extensive, from quirky little stores you’ll find hidden in the side roads to the most exclusive of the designer stores. If you’re looking for the more eclectic stores, the Harris Arcade sells everything from gadgets to vintage and retro antiques, with a range that spans Chinese herbal stores, collectables, comics, militaria, cigars and vinyl. If, however, you’re looking for something a bit more mainstream, check out:

Broad Street Mall

A large mall that specialises in the cheaper high street stores (we’re talking a 99p store AND a Poundland here), ideal for popping in to pick up a few last minute fancy dress items for the night ahead. There are also a number of fashion stores, like New Look, TK Maxx, and Claires.

The Oracle

Reading’s bigger shopping mall, it’s got over 80 shops for bargain hunters to root through. This is where you’ll find the higher end high street labels, with shops like Bank, House of Fraser, Oasis, Mango, Reiss, Topshop and Zara.


If you’re hoping to catch some big names, the Hexagon is your best bet – Sarah Millican, Jason Manford, Russell Brand and Jimmy Carr have all played here. There’s no shortage of music and gigs playing either, and the music scene is incredibly diverse – you’ll find everyone from the Moscow Philharmonic and Goldfrapp to 911 playing at the Hexagon.

Norden Farm Centre for the Arts is popular with comedians before they take their show on the road - comics like Lee Mack will use it as a warm up venue to test out new material, so you stand a good chance of seeing quality shows early, and for lower prices too.

Getting out

No one wants to be rushed off their feet; you’ll want to save a little energy for the night ahead. In Reading, if you don’t fancy a full pampering day to unwind, try heading out in to the fresh air, and enjoying one of Reading’s beautiful parks.

  • Forbury Gardens – a restored Victorian masterpiece, these gardens are an oasis in the middle of busy Reading town. There are several monuments and sculptures around the garden (one dedicated to the former King of England said to be buried around there), but if you’re looking for culture, walk through the gardens to find the ruins of Reading Abbey. If not, just take a picnic and spread yourselves out amongst the flowers.
  • Mapledurham Lock – one of the most beautiful walks around, on a good day you can stroll alongside the River Thames and see it where it’s pretty and blue, rather than the whale-filled steely grey rubbish dump it becomes through London. Take a camera too, and get some shots of you and the girls looking adorable by the Lock to put on Facebook and make up for all the bleary-eyed and out of focus ones that will be taken later on that night.
  • Caversham Court Gardens - a multiple-award winning park, complete with walks, stables and a mansion. They’re probably not going to welcome you taking a football or a BBQ, but stretching out with a glass of Pimms (or two) and some strawberries is a divine end to the weekend.


Summertime equals festival time in Reading – aside from the legendary Reading Festival (the music one), there’s plenty else going on throughout the city. Reading Food Month is in June, which is your opportunity to swipe all the free samples you can carry, and Reading Arts Week helps move the month in to July. July itself brings Reading Fringe Festival, a chance to see some off-beat drama and comedy, as well as the Real Ale and Jazz Festival to fill your music (and beer) needs. Reading Festival itself is in August, and autumn welcomes the Reading Comedy Festival in October.

FCO travel advice

Travel Safety & Information

For information on staying safe and healthy while travelling abroad as well as local laws and latest government advice on destinations visit the FCO Travel Aware website.

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