A music festival is a festival that presents a number of musical performances usually tied together through a theme or genre and Reading is no exception, where a pink cat was spotted just about everywhere and caused a massive hunt.  Despite this, Reading is home to the famous three-day music festival that takes place every year over the August bank holiday weekend. It is a renowned worldwide event featuring the biggest and best acts of the contemporary music scene - however, keep an eye out for that pink cat.




Reading becomes tent city - Aug 06



The Reading and Leeds Festivals, officially called the Carling Weekend, are a pair of annual music festivals that take place in Reading and Leeds in England. The events both happen on the bank holiday weekend in August (on Friday, Saturday, Sunday), and share the same bill (usually with one or two exceptions.)


They used to be strongly folk-oriented festivals, now more alternative/indie/punk/metal. The festival will typically have the following stages:-


  • Main stage - major rock/indie/rap acts

  • NME/Radio 1 stage - less well known and breakthrough acts

  • Carling stage - emerging acts

  • Radio 1 Lock Up Stage - underground punk/hardcore acts. Due to demand, this took take up 2 days in 2006, as opposed to 1 day in previous years.

  • Dance tent - dance music acts, on the day that the above stage does not run

  • Comedy tent - comedy and cabaret acts

  • TopMan Unsigned tent - Unsigned acts from the local area (Leeds)


The festivals are run by Mean Fiddler Music Group and are currently sponsored by Carling. For promotional purposes they are known as the Carling Weekend Reading and the Carling Weekend Leeds.


In 2005 the capacity of the Reading site was 66,500 and the Leeds site was 57,500 but this year both sites have had increases in capacity with Reading now being at 80,000 and Leeds at 67,500. The Reading festival is held at Little John's Farm on Richfield Avenue in central Reading, near the Caversham Bridge. The Leeds event is held in Bramham Park, the grounds of a historic house. Campsites are available at both sites and weekend tickets include free camping. Day tickets are also sold.


The line-up for the 2006 festivals was officially announced on BBC Radio 1 on 3 April 2006, with tickets going on sale on this date. Headliners were unveiled as Muse, Franz Ferdinand, and Pearl Jam.



Early history


The Reading Festival originates from the National Jazz Festival, which was conceived by Harold Pendleton (founder of the Marquee Club in London) and was first held at Richmond Athletic Ground in 1961. This festival, in turn, took inspiration from events held in America. Throughout the years, the festival changed names and moved around sites a few times, being held at Windsor Racecourse, Kempton Park and Plumpton, before finally reaching Reading in 1971.





The line-up settled into a pattern of prog rock and heavy metal during the 1970s. It did dabble with punk rock in 1978 when The Jam, Sham 69 & Penetration played. The festival attempted to provide both traditional rock acts and new punk bands, leading to clashes between the two sets of fans. Although The Ramones played the following year, the festival gradually became known for focusing on heavy metal and rock acts.




The stage 2005




During this decade the festival followed a similar format to that established in the late 1970s. In 1984 and 1985, the local council reclaimed the festival site for development, and no festival was held. A proposed move to Northamptonshire failed, and a Labour Party council election win in 1986 saw the festival restored to fields adjacent to its original site. By the late eighties, however, the festival was seen as "out of touch" with the new British music scene. In 1987 although the first goth acts appeared on the bill (e.g. The Mission and The Bolshoi), the likes of Status Quo still appeared. In 1988, the festival hit its lowest point with the likes of Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler being bottled off the stage. The festival was declared a disaster and its future was under threat. Things were due to change for the better though.





In 1989, Mean Fiddler Music Group got involved for the first time. The festival started to change, leading towards its re-establishment in the 1990s as one of the UK's biggest music festivals. Notably, the new indie music of this decade started to appear on the bill and the future of the festival became more secure.


In 1991 Nirvana played the first of their two appearances to a massive crowd. This is also the year the first britpop bands such as Suede and Blur started to show themselves on the festival circuit.


The next year was one of the most famous in the festival history. Nirvana did their last presentation ever in Reading (and also in the UK) and what later became in one of their best concerts. The band's frontman, Kurt Cobain entered in a wheelchair pushed by journalist Everett True, parodying the speculations about his mental health. Then he got up and joined the rest of the band in tearing through an assortment of old and new material. At one point in the show, Cobain revealed to the crowd the recent birth of his daughter Frances Bean, and succeeded in having the crowd chant "We love you, Courtney!" (referring to Cobain's wife, Courtney Love) in unison.


Over the next few years the festival continued to grow as the popularity of outdoor festivals increased. Britpop and indie continued to dominate along with rock. Notably, rap acts such as Ice Cube began to appear regularly on the main stage.


In 1998 it absorbed the failed Phoenix Festival. This resulted in the infamous on-stage spat between The Beastie Boys and The Prodigy over the song 'Smack My Bitch Up'.


In 1999 the festival gained another leg at Temple Newsam in Leeds, when it was clear that the Reading site was far too small to deal with the demand. Though the 1999 Leeds Festival ran a day behind the Reading leg, a system where the line up of Reading play Leeds the following day, with the bands from Leeds' opening day playing the final day in Reading, soon developed.




Viki and Sarah enjoy the Reading vibes





After a successful first year in Leeds, a continued resurgence in the popularity of outdoor music festivals led to the Reading festival selling out more and more quickly every year. The Leeds leg, however, was plagued by riots and violence which led to problems in retaining its licence. Mean Fiddler moved the festival to Bramham Park, near Wetherby to the east of Leeds in 2003. Since then, security at both sites has increased and problems appear to have been quelled. However, this has also lead to an increase in demand. In 2006, Reading sold out in an hour, with only a 'handful' of tickets left for Leeds 12 hours after the sales started. The lack of a Glastonbury Festival in this year also fuelled the demand for Reading and Leeds tickets.


Musically, the festival has seen a return to its heavy metal roots, though it has retained a large indie, rap and punk influence. The "tradition" of unpopular bands being bottled off (being forced off stage by a barrage of audience-thrown plastic bottles, sometimes filled with urine) has continued; famously, Daphne and Celeste suffered this ignominy in 2000, with Good Charlotte unluckily experiencing this growing trend in 2003. They remained onstage and even encouraged the crowd to throw more. In 2004 The Rasmus were bottled off at Reading and 50 Cent (with urine, fireworks, mud, pieces of furniture and generally anything people could throw) in Reading only. Some question the wisdom of organisers placing 50 Cent, a rap/urban act, in between Placebo and Green Day, both rock acts (although The Streets, a rap act like 50 Cent, played earlier in the day with little or no incident). 50 Cent lasted nearly 20 minutes at Reading, before throwing his microphone into the crowd in anger after a deck chair was thrown onstage. 


In 2005, Fightstar, despite suffering a barrage themselves, remained playing throughout their entire set as the audience's bottle supply was quickly exhausted. This has given the band, featuring Charlie Simpson an ex-member of pop group Busted, a strike of admiration and praise for being able to remain onstage throughout the incident. In 2006 at Reading, Panic! at the Disco lead singer Brendon Urie was knocked down from a hit by a full plastic bottle thrown from the crowd, causing the band to stop for 3 minutes while he received medical attention, before continuing to play the whole of the set with no more bottles directly hitting them. Despite this, the band played their set at Leeds the following day with no incident (aside from a thank you and praise for being a better crowd). My Chemical Romance also suffering a barrage of bottles in 2006, but completed their set, encouraging the crowd to "boo", "hiss" and throw more. Most of the throwing was commited by Slayer fans who felt an "emo" band shouldnt be playing after the heavy metal band. Though it should be noted that the majority of the crowd were supporters of the My Chemical Romance.


The Arctic Monkeys famously filled the Carling Tents at both festivals in 2005 despite having not officially released any material to the general public at this point. Many remarked they had never seen the Carling Tent so packed - people were standing outside up to twelve metres away, and more and more joined the crowd as the band played. In 2006 it was announced that they would be the second headliners of that year's festival - a remarkable jump up the bill.


In 2002 British indie rockers Feeder, played the Radio 1 tent as headliners having played the Main Stage in 1997, 1999 and 2001. This was because they wanted to keep the show low-key as it was their first official live appearance after the tragic death of their drummer Jon Lee in January of that year. However, despite playing a small stage the tent was filled way beyond it's capacity with people outside the tent trying to watch their performance, all this despite Jarvis Cocker's band Pulp playing on the Main Stage at the same time. It would be their last show at the festival until 4 years later in 2006 and on both occasions filled this time the Main Stage by a great length, while being 4th on the third day of the Leeds line up. They were apparently offered a Main Stage headline slot the following year, but had to turn it down due to their hetic recording schedule for the Pushing The Senses album the following year and only played one gig in 2004 as a result.


The same year in 2006, Muse headlined the second day of Reading. Frontman Matt Bellamy later said it was the best gig they had ever played.


The announcement of the lineup and ticket release for the 2006 festival saw weekend tickets for Reading sell out just an hour, breaking all records so far, and emphasising the growing desire for live music because of the "rock revival" of the past few years. Further Weekend tickets went on sale again soon after and went in 26 minutes.


In recent years both festivals have experienced riots and dangerous behaviour carried out by campers, particularly on the Sunday night. An organisation has been set up to raise awareness about problems caused by the rioting.




Come on, have you seen that pink cat?



List of Headliners


  • 2006: Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Pearl Jam, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Placebo

  • 2005: Pixies, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Marilyn Manson

  • 2004: Green Day, The Darkness, The White Stripes, Morrissey, The Offspring, 50 Cent, Placebo

  • 2003: Linkin Park, Blur, Metallica, Blink 182, System of a Down, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (replacing the White Stripes who pulled out),AFI,Pennywise.

  • 2002: The Offspring, The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Guns N' Roses (only at Leeds), The Prodigy, Pulp, Muse

  • 2001: Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Eminem, Green Day, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Marilyn Manson

  • 2000: Oasis, Pulp, Stereophonics, Primal Scream, Beck, Placebo, Rage Against the Machine


Why visit the "Reading" Festival?


The festival first arrived in Reading in 1971 when it moved from Plumpton in Sussex. Reading was already hosting its very own Festival of Arts and this provided the promoter, Harold Pendleton, with an ideal festival site on the banks of the Thames. It is still on the same site over 30 years later, now organised by the Mean Fiddler.


Is the Festival good for Reading?


The Festival generates vast income and creates huge interest in the town. It is estimated that the Festival brings in more than £7 million to Reading and its inhabitants each year, with some 80,000 music fans invading Reading every August bank holiday. The Reading Festival is truly world-class with bands appearing from all over the globe (particularly the USA), making the town an internationally recognised name on the music scene.


Exploring the Festival's history


The Festival has become an important part of life in the town and during late 2004 the Museum of Reading staged a major retrospective exhibition called 'Music, Mud and Mayhem'. The exhibition told the 30 year history of the festival. These pages reflect some of those objects, images and experiences that were featured in the displays.






Festival season rocks to an end - 10.40, Wed Aug 30 2006


The summer festival season is now finally over and music fans are putting their tents and wellies away for another year.


Leeds and Reading wrapped up the outdoor music scene at the weekend with a bill boasting Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs.


The Monkeys were judged to be one of the highlights of the weekend, playing Reading on Saturday and heading north to Leeds on Sunday.


The youngsters were second on the bill below Muse but above relative old-timers Feeder.

Reading and Leeds are known as the rockiest of the big festivals and this year didn't disappoint with fans moshing for their lives all through the three day event.


It was all a bit much for Luke from The Kooks, who admitted he feared for his life when they were on stage at Reading.


"The crowd were nuts, it was actually quite dangerous," he said. "The bouncers were just going mental. I nearly got pushed out of the gig - it was horrible."




Rowdy looking Reading visitors - Dom, Viki, Tom and Sarah



Fifteen arrests at music festival


A 12-year-old boy is among 15 people who were arrested on the first day of the Reading Festival.

Police say a total of 87 offences were reported and the vast majority of crimes committed were possession of Class A drugs or thefts from tents.


Officers are urging anyone going to the festival to leave valuables at home or use the lockers at the Rivermead site.


About 80,000 music fans are due to attend each day of this year's event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Supt Steve Hockin, of Thames Valley Police, said: "I would like to remind people not to buy tickets from touts as there is a serious risk that the tickets will be false and you will be wasting your money. "It is a big risk," he said.



Music: Reading Festival kicks off, Lostprophets on a high and Nelly eyes Eminem


Friday, 25 Aug 2006 17:16


The Carling Reading Music Festival has been going for less than a day and already it's hitting the headlines. Brendan Urie, Panic! At The Disco's frontman was hit in the face by a bottle thrown by a festivalgoer this afternoon, NME reports.

Urie collapsed to the floor, forcing the group to stop the song. After being surrounded by his bandmates and roadies for a few minutes he was back up with a bang, shouting, "You can't take me out – let's see how well you guys do with my left side".

The weekend looks set to one of the best in the summer festival season, with Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse, and the Arctic Monkeys headlining.

Muse are likely to be on a particular high after they were honoured with the award for best live act at last night's Kerrang! Awards in east London. But the awards ceremony was dominated by the Lostprophets, who walked away with the award for best British band and best album for Liberation Transmission.

Nelly Furtado must be on cloud nine this summer. Not only has she had one of this year's most popular hits with Maneater, but her album Loose has been in the top 20 in the UK album chart for nine weeks now. After working with hip-hop legend Timbaland on the album, Nelly is now keen to work with some of the music scene's other heavyweights.

The popstar has revealed that she would love to work with rapper Eminem as "he's such a vocalist".

"He's so diverse and has so much finesse. I would love to be around that and see how it works," she said.

Meanwhile singer Jamelia hasn't been having such a great comeback success as Nelly. The English R 'n' B star had to apologise to fans during her first concert in two years after she forgot her lines an embarrassing nine times.

The Superstar singer admitted "I just kept forgetting the words. I wanted to cry."

In the UK singles chart Justin Timberlake's Sexyback is likely to be a big hit this week, while flamboyant artists the Scissor Sisters and Basement Jaxx are both releasing singles in the coming week. Pink is likely to be hopeful that her latest release, U and Ur Hand will follow the success of her last hit, Who Knew, while The Feeling are releasing their single Never be Lonely.

Kasabian release their second album, Empire, this week, and it is likely to be an instant classic. Filled with real depth and emotion, it is likely that it will surpass the success of their first album, the self-titled LP released in 2004.




Oi! sit down luv - thought she saw that cat



Thousands flock to music festival - 24 August 2006



Motorists are being warned to expect massive traffic delays this weekend as the Reading Festival gets under way.

The busiest day will be Thursday when most festival-goers will be travelling, according to the Highways Agency.


"Residents are advised to leave their cars at home if possible and make any journeys by foot, bus or bike," a Reading Borough Council spokesman.


About 80,000 music fans are due to attend each day of this year's event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Police warning


Thames Valley Police said that there will be high profile patrols in the town during the next few days.


A police spokesman said: "The event takes a year to plan in terms of policing and officers from across the force work on their days off in order to man the event.


"As with each year, police are keen to ensure revellers do what they can to prevent themselves from becoming victims of crime."


Revellers are urged to leave valuables at home or use the lockers at the Rivermead site.




Home sweet home



Fake ticket warning over festival


Organisers of the Reading Festival say they are concerned at the number of fake tickets and forged wristbands they are seeing at the gates of the event.


Weekend tickets for the music festival are sold out, but day tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday.


Music fans are being warned to buy these only from licenced vendors.

The Foo Fighters are headlining the main stage on Saturday, with Iron Maiden closing the event on Sunday. About 60,000 fans are due to attend.





Music: Reading Festival kicks off, Lostprophets on a high and ..., UK - 25 Aug 2006
The Carling Reading Music Festival has been going for less than a day and already it's hitting the headlines. Brendan Urie, Panic! ...



Teen knifed at urban festival
Reading Evening Post, UK - 15 hours ago
... witnesses, fire extinguishers and bricks were thrown as well as punches when a crowd of 50 youngsters kicked off at the Reading Urban Music Festival on Friday ...



Jekyll and Hyde Form Continues, UK - 29 Aug 2006
... Having been at the Reading Music Festival ver the bank holiday weekend, I missed Cardiff's second ,and final, friendly match before the Magners League kicks ...



Guča voted best international festival
B92, Serbia and Montenegro - 29 Aug 2006
... “Forget Glastonbury, Reading, Burning Man and Cochella: the wildest music festival on earth is a cacophonic and crazy brass band festival that takes place ...



The Tuesday DiScussion: can we beat festival crime?
Drowned In Sound, UK - 29 Aug 2006
... jackets and digital cameras, each and every major music festival campsite suffers ... s difficult to get into the arena at a festival like Reading without the ...



Music Review Cans, Pots, Some Chaos and Lots of Numbers
New York Times, United States - 22 hours ago
... to Darmstadt at Spiegeltent, a series named for a German new-music festival known for ... presented here in a bilingual version, with one speaker reading the text ...



X-clusive: Muse On Reading, Inspiration & The Future
Xfm Online, UK - 12 hours ago
... s always a bit special,” Chris explained, “But especially Reading, which was the first festival I ever ... out to a club and listen to some music that’s ...
Weekender hangover



artistic notes
White Rock Peace Arch News,  Canada - 4 hours ago
... Family members are welcome, no music reading is required; music and learning tapes ... recently featured as house band at Merritt Mountain Music Festival, and has ..



My Chemical Romance declare Reading set a triumph, UK - 11 hours ago
... Way has declared his band's set at the Carling Weekend: Reading Festival (August 27 ... fans for a while could appreciate all different kinds of music, Slayer are a ...
Festival goers enjoy Reading and Leeds



NYMF's Go-Go Beach Announces Cast & Creative Team
Broadway World, NY - 11 hours ago
... of the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival, one of ... Hurlyburly, Kiki & Herb: Coup de Théatre); music direction by ... in New York as a staged reading in June ...
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