News and updates

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Our 2020 trailer has landed! Check out all the wonderful digital goodness on offer…

Check out producer Steph Weller, comic Preet Singh and writer / director Fiona Leonard chat about this year’s digital festival for the What’s On Reading podcast


With our first online festival beginning next Friday, we take a look at some of the shows we’ve added since our launch last month & other highlights. Plus sign up for our free panel discussion Creative Coffee: Creating a Digital Fringe Festival on 13 July and listen to the What’s On Reading podcast Fringe special


Photographed by Jordan Green at

As if our previously announced line-up wasn’t exciting enough, we’ve added LOTS of brilliant new shows lately. There’s audio drama Natalie Barney’s Last Salon (first seen at The Globe last year), a virtual party & DJ sets from Glastonbury & Readipop rising stars Twin Sun plus family fun with Mischief & Mystery in Moominvalley and Crayola’s Rainbow. And six shows filmed in 360 degrees by LIVR: the hilarious & heartbreaking First Time, the very funny Freud the Musical, award-winning play F**k You Pay Me, inventive theatre piece Grip, music & storytelling combined in High Rise Estate of Mind and solo show Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man who used to hit her)

From 17-26 July we will bringing over 50 events – including cabaret, comedy, film, panels, photography & much more – direct to wherever you are with Reading Fringe Digital. You can register to access all free content & book tickets for our pay-to-view shows. As the days tick down we’ll be previewing highlights of the festival, such as the shows below: 


To kick off 10 days of cabaret, dance, exhibitions, film, panels, poetry, theatre & more, next Friday at 7.30pm we’re joined by award-winning comedy bards Jollyboat Pirates (“wonderful to see a comedy duo with such natural chemistry” ***** Broadway Baby). The Edinburgh Fringe favourites launch Reading Fringe Digital with their catchy songs & fast-paced jokes Register to watch live on 17 July at 7.30pm – and then at 8.30pm over 30 prerecorded shows will go live on our website and at 9pm Fun, female, fearless and completely improvised! A supHer group of London’s hottest queer improv talent, hosted by Monica Gaga (BBC3, Comedy Store), close our opening night.
Register to watch live next Friday 17 July at 9pm
After the Royal Variety Show, opening for Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall, Cheltenham Festival with Jamie Cullum & performing for 90,000 England fans at Wembley, singer-songwriter Purdy brings her sell-out Henley jazz club to Reading Fringe Digital direct from her garden with her amazing band
Book tickets for 19 July
Comedian Matt (“Funny, brave & intelligent” Lancashire Post) puts both the online audience’s and his own (sometimes silly) questions to his special guests in this live podcast
Book tickets for 22 July

What’s On Reading podcast: Fringe special

The latest edition of the What’s On Readingpodcast – which was launched late last year and is released each month on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts – focuses on Reading Fringe Digital.

Host Damien Passmore, marketing officer for What’s On Reading, is joined by Reading Fringe producer Steph Weller, Dusseldorf curator and Love, Sex & Zombies creator Fiona Leonard and Reading-based comedian Preet Singh.

Dance, Dahl & drama at Reading Fringe

We’re always proud of Reading and never more than this week with the reaction to last Saturday’s tragedy. And we’re proud to play our own small role in making this town such a vibrant place. While we can’t meet in person this year we’re excited about the wide range of events we are bringing you online from 17-26 July


From solo shows like Big Girl and The Legacy of William Ireland to international drama & dance project Love, Sex & Zombies we have a variety of theatre shows from 17 July. There’s silent physical comedy & magic with José Pedro Fortuna’s Entrée, a radio drama told from the perspective of a teddy bear in Not So Quiet on the Welsh Front and monologues in From The Rooftops. Plus we have a quartet of compelling two-handers: darkly funny thriller Hitman and Her, feminist folk-horror Sary, hellzapoppin’ Shakespeare The Travesty of Richard III and climate change play We’ll Dance on the Ash of the Apocalypse

From 17-26 July we will bringing over 50 events – including cabaret, comedy, film, panels, photography & much more – direct to wherever you are with Reading Fringe Digital. You can register to access all free content & book tickets for our pay-to-view shows. As the weeks tick down we’ll be previewing highlights of the festival, such as the three shows below:  

An immersive & interactive family theatre show based on the works of the world’s number one storyteller including The BFG & The Twits
Book tickets for 25 July
For anyone who needs to remember where their engine begins. A wrestling of the heart & the feelings of intimacy, reminiscing occurs until eventually the dancing couple is pulled apart. A  unique dance collaboration between leading US choreographers & performers Aaron Samuel Davis & Camden Loeser
Register to watch from 17 July
Loop the lockdown away as Caversham-based Adam blends classical guitar training with a fusion of styles, utilising looping and FX pedals to create an all-encompassing sound
Register to watch on 21 July

Browse the full line-up and register now for Reading Fringe Digital (17-26 July)

Reading Fringe Digital line-up announced!

From Laurel & Hardy, Shakespeare and Roald Dahl to live cabaret, photography and a showcase of East Asian talent from across the UK, the full line-up for next month’s Reading Fringe Digital Festival has been announced.

The Fringe is going ahead in a new digital format from 17th – 26th July with over 50 live and prerecorded events available via their website. This year’s Festival was made possible by emergency funding from the Arts Council and in particular the National Lottery, meaning that the vast majority of the programme will be free to watch, with the option to donate, alongside a handful of pay-to-view events. In both cases the money will go directly to the artists involved.

Over the 10 days of the Fringe viewers in Reading and all over the world will be able to watch theatre, comedy, music, magic, panel discussions, photo exhibitions, Q&As, poetry, family events, films, spoken word, drag shows, podcasts and more by registering at The Festival kicks off on Friday 17th July with a live launch evening featuring musical-comedy duo the Jollyboat Pirates.

Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “We are thrilled that after a big jump in attendance last year we are able to keep that momentum going in this exciting new form, thanks to the Arts Council, the National Lottery, the artistic community and our partners. Once again we are showcasing the best in local, national and international talent – and we’re delighted that this time around geography is no obstacle for the audience either.”

Highlights include: Exit Pursued by Panda’s From the Rooftops, a series of short plays from writers including Daniel York Loh and Jimin Suh; family fun with Roald Dahl & The Imagination Seekers; international theatre and dance project Love, Sex & Zombies; stand-up from Eleanor Conway and Preet Singh; The Laurel & Hardy Cabaret; and a wide range of music including jazz singer Purdy, experimental German outfit Transhuman Art Critics and award-winning acapella group Readiophonics. The full programme – plus registration and booking – is available now on

Reading Fringe Festival Goes Digital!

Reading Fringe Festival will return this summer in a new digital format after it received vital funding.

The Fringe will host a wide range of online events from 17th – 26th July after it was awarded emergency funding by Arts Council England. Last year’s Festival was the most successful yet, with ticket sales up 60% and 5,000 people attending over 100 events including art installations, children’s shows, comedy, film, music, theatre and much more. Longtime partner and fellow Reading arts organisation Jelly was also successful in its bid for funding to develop a programme of ‘at home’ residencies with artists.

Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “We are all about trying new things and making culture as accessible as possible, so we are really excited to be doing both this year with a digital Fringe. The health of our audience, artists and team is paramount so we are delighted that the Arts Council support allows us to continue to showcase local, national and international talent while respecting guidelines. We’ve prided ourselves on bringing top performances right to where people are, from an orchestra playing at the station to a puppet bus on Broad Street, so to have the chance to deliver a festival right into homes and personal devices is a real privilege.”

Two flagship commissions have been announced. International theatre and dance project Love, Sex & Zombies, led by Fiona Leonard who curated the Dusseldorf strand of last year’s Fringe, explores connection in a post-apocalyptic world. And the second is an interactive online story for children and adults from writer Helen Eastman, whose theatre credits include Bicycle Boy, In The Night Garden Live and Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas, in partnership with TimeTrap Escape Rooms.

Details of the programme will be announced next month but the plan is for around 30 events across the 10 days, with the majority to be available on a free or donations-only basis. Audience members who wish to support artists and the Fringe by donating, will be able to do so. Reading artists who have not already signed up to participate, are encouraged to apply to join the digital Fringe by contacting for an event form. 100% of donations to an artist’s event will go directly to the artist.

Record-breaking Reading Fringe Festival As Audience Soars

Reading Fringe Festival organisers have cited the support of the town’s businesses, BID, enthusiastic audiences and artists both local and international for the boom in visitor numbers at last month’s record-breaking event.
Ticket sales for the 10-day festival surged by 60% year-on-year to 3,750 and with free, non-ticketed events at Reading Station, The Oracle and the Broad Street Mall taken into account, attendance reached the 5,000-mark for the first time in its seven-year history.
The Fringe took place at venues across Reading – including the Purple Turtle, the Abbey Ruins, After Dark, the Three Guineas, Reading Library, Penta Hotel and the Rising Sun – from July 19-28. The line-up comprised over 100 events including art installations, cabaret, comedy, film, family shows, music, spoken word, talks, theatre, walks and yoga. Local performers such as Preet Singh, the Tonyx, Holly Shillito and Richard Bentley featured alongside national and international talent from Libya, Germany, Norway, Puerto Rico, Zimbabwe, Syria, the US and more. Among the most popular events were the A Change Is Gonna Come and Remix Jazz Orchestra concerts, Circo Rum Ba Ba’s family show in an inflatable whale at the Oracle and the silent disco at the Abbey Ruins.
For the first time the historic Reading Minster was the festival’s flagship venue, hosting performers including soul star Carleen Anderson, Brit-nominated tenor Thomas Cameron, folk singer Jackie Oates and Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult. The church was also the venue for Conversations With Refugees, a special event marking 25 years of Reading Refugee Support Group, which was followed days later by the news that one of the participants, asylum seeker Kamyar Khezri – who spoke of leaving Iran after converting to Christianity and performed a piece on violin – was granted leave to remain.
Fringe director Zsuzsi Lindsay commented: “While we always aim to grow each year, such a big increase in attendance is a real tribute to our brilliant team, volunteers, artists, venues, partners and supporters. This has enabled us to reach more of Reading than ever before, as well as attracting visitors to the town. It has been particularly rewarding hearing from happy artists and audiences, as well as nearby businesses reporting a notable rise in footfall. As we always say, this is a festival for Reading by Reading and we can’t wait to build on this year’s success in 2020!”
Andy Briggs, general manager of The Oracle, the venue for more than a dozen sold-out events, added: “We were really excited to be involved in this year’s Fringe Festival and felt privileged to host the launch event. The feedback we’ve received from our shoppers is that it was a first-class event which is a real testament to the artists, partners and the Fringe team. The festival helped The Oracle become a cultural hub over the 10 days and we look forward to being involved again in next year’s events.”
Reading Fringe Festival  2020 will take place from July 17-26, with the programme to be announced in the spring.


It’s been a record-breaking Reading Fringe Festival, with attendence up over a third – don’t miss our final day of theatre, music, comedy, walks & more!


The Thames Path Walk’n’Talk from Sonning to Reading kicks off at 10am, as does Sunday Assembly Readingat the Penta. For children, The Pirate’s Misadventureat the whale on Oracle Riverside takes place at 10.30am, 11am, 2.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm & 5pm. Acapella stars Readiophonics close our week of free gigs at the Oracle Beach Bat at 3pm.There’s another chance to see Fringe favourites Blue Goat Theatre attempt 30 plays in one hour at 1pm at the Rising Sun, while at the same venue at 5pm there is live music to close the Fringe with Friendlinesses. And don’t miss our marvellous mural by German graffiti artist KJ263 at Jackson’s Corner (Photo for the Fringe by Caroline Gratix)

The Zap Show, Today, 3pm, Rising Sun
After last year’s successful Fringe show, The Zap Comedy Club return with a variety show in the best tradition of Saturday evening TV light entertainment, with sketches, standup & slapstick. Book tickets

Small Silence, Today, 10am-4pm
Its the final day of Richard Bentley & Mark Langley’s sound installation at the Broad Street Mall, where you can enjoy your own noisy silence


Our penultimate day starts with nature author Helen Jukes at Reading Library. There’s a trio of theatrical treats with The Mariner’s SongBlue Goat Theatre & Educating Georgia. Enjoy a choice of great tunes from the 60s right though to 2019 at A Night In The Ruins: Silent Disco with DJs from Are You Listening? & Readipop or head to the Rising Sun for acoustic & acapella anthems with The Tonyx & Holly Shillito. And leading Norwegian improv troupe Det Andre Teatret create a show from the audience’s rubbish in Throwaway!

The Pirate’s Misadventure @ The Whale, various times
For free family fun this weekend, head to the big whale at Oracle Riverside! Due to popular demand we have added more performances of Circo Rum Ba Ba’s sell-out The Pirate’s Misadventure today and tomorrow so showtimes are now 10.30am, 11am, 2.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm & 5pm both days, with walk-up tickets available at the door. Find out more and book tickets

30 Neo Futurist Plays From Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, Today 6pm, Tomorrow 1pm

30 plays in 60 minutes? And in case that was too simple, the audience is the director, surprising the cast with the order! After last year’s acclaimed J’n’R, Blue Goat Theatre return, at Penta today & Rising Sun tomorrow. Book tickets

Oracle Beach Bar Gigs
Don’t miss our final two free gigs at the awesome Mojito Beach Bar at Oracle Riverside: Lisa Cockerill tonight at 9pm & acapella group Readiophonics tomorrow at 3pm. (Photo for the Fringe byCharlie Stone of Holly Shillito last night, who plays again tonight at The Rising Sun with The Tonyx from 7pm)

Tomorrow at the Fringe
Start the day with yoga at the Abbey, Thames Path Walk’n’Talk or Sunday Assembly Reading. And then head to The Rising Sun for sketches, slapstick & stand-up with The Zap Show & music with Friendlinesses


Day 8 of the most successful Fringe yet begins this morning with award-winning shadow puppetry My Shadow & Me at the VUE Cinema & Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals at the Penta, also the venue for  Bubbly Bubbles & Bubbly Maths this afternoon. This evening there’s comedy with Gerard Harris, A Special RelationshipPreet Singh & Lucas Jolson. The Trees Are Out To Get Meoffers a queer dystopian vision of the forests reclaiming the world & Total Eclipsetells a transformative story of love & loss. And Friday night is music night with free shows from Holly Shillito at the Oracle Beach Bar & ‘German Arctic Monkeys’ Parakeets at Purple Turtle – plus Conversations With Trees with folk stars Jackie Oates & Hannah James & jazz drummer Thomas Stronen.

Lucas Jolson: Attitude Adjustment, Tonight, 9pm
Join our After Dark Comedy Competition winner Lucas as he discusses being nice, the housing crisis, marriage and maybe even tells some jokes.

“Upbeat banter” Chortle
“Full of layers” Explore RDG
Book tickets

Helen Jukes in conversation, Tomorrow, 10.30am
Helen’s widely praised book A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings(“a classic of modern nature writing” Countryfile) tells of her first year of beekeeping. She is in conversation at Reading Library with Radio 3’s Fiona Talkington. Book tickets

Friendlinesses, Sunday, 5pm
Henry AKA Childcry is a gifted young musician who will be bringing the 2019 Fringe to a close at the Rising Sun on Sunday afternoon. He persuades you to traverse your emotions, visiting surprise, love, fear, anger & joy. As the show ends, you’re left feeling shamelessly but enviably invigorated. Book tickets


Top theatre with The Mariner’s Song30 Neo-Futurist Plays From Too Much Light Makes The Baby Goes Blind & Educating Georgia; marvellous music from the Tonyx & A Night in the Ruins: Silent Disco; chucklesome comedy from The Zap Show& Der Andre Teatret; And a secular celebration of life with Sunday Assembley Readingplus a handful of tickets left for Yoga ReadingThames Path Walk’n’Talk & the previously sold-out Pilgrimage to Reading Abbey

DAY 7: Clog-Dancing, Chap-Hop & Crayola!

We have the coolest venues in town – in both senses! – so beat the heat & join us today, the magnificent day 7! And as you decide what to see, read some of the coverage of this year’s Fringe, from Reading IndiesExplore RDG & Independent Reading.


Ahead of tomorrow’s Conversation With Trees concert, folk star Hannah James offers a free clog-dancing workshop & film screeningat MERL, which is also the venue for HARTMANNMUELLER: In Danger. German indie band Parakeets play the first of two gigs tonight from 7pm at The Oracle Riverside, while chap-hop legend Professor Elemental makes a welcome return. Teenage tenor Thomas Cameron brings his ANight at the Musicalsshow to the Minster while the Three Guineas is comedy central, with podcast It Just So Happenedand stand-up show Trying To Be Good. Reggae singer-guitarist Brushy One Stringis at the Purple Turtle while over at After Dark we have A Very Crayola Fringe Show with the year’s cover star, followed by Old Skool Art Battle!

The Mariner’s Song, Saturday, 5.30pm
Writer-performer Rajan Sharma invites you to brave the elements, sail stormy waters and embark upon this visceral spoken word voyage through the ages; climb aboard as he navigates life experience, family history & ancient myth, in a daring quest to discover our place in the infinite Cosmos. Book tickets

Throwaway! Saturday, 8pm
Puppetry, storytelling & classical theatre blend in this improvised show from Der Andre Teatret, one of Europe’s leading fringe theatres based on stuff the audience is throwing away. Book tickets

Total Eclipse: ‘In a moment my mum is going to step out of the moon’, Friday, 9pm
Lily & Paco’s relationship is in crisis after having both lost their mothers. They arrive to the top of a mountain in anticipation of a total lunar eclipse.
“From tear-jerking sadness to belly laugh absurdity, this is an uplifting piece of theatre. Finer performances would be hard to find in this masterclass of physical theatre. The audience were rapturous in their applause for a show that is as well-crafted as it is sincere, as moving as it is inspiring. Brilliant!” Broadway Baby★★★★★ Book tickets


We’ve reached the halfway point of the year’s Fringe and already set new records for attendance, with several sell-outs including today’s Future of Food Symposium & War of the Words – so don’t leave it too late to book!


Tonight’s free gig at The Oracle Riverside Beach Bar is Daughter of the Water and Ma Bessie brings her mix of blues and jazz to the Three Guineas at 7.30pm. At the Minster at 9pm artist, musician & Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult presents his new project Transhuman Art Critics, there’s comedy from Tom Glover at the Purple Turtle and the Environmental Injustice & Climate Change panel at RISC. Plus Small Silence continues at Broad St Mall.

Daniel Audritt: Trying To Be Good, Tomorrow, 9pm
The award-wining comedian, creator of Comedy Central’s Modern Horror Stories & writer for Mock The Week, the News Quiz & Comic Relief, comes to the Three Guineas to question love, masculinity and what makes us good people. Book tickets

The Trees Are Out To Get Me, Friday, 9pm
An immersive experience of live art, film & sound exploring queer utopian futures of trees and the forest taking back the land and taking over our bodies. Imagine a re-wilding of ourselves, the way we love and the way we live. Book tickets


Head to the Penta Hotel on Friday for a day of events for children!  Sing along with Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals at 11am, while the award-winning Caroline Ainslie presents Bubbly Bubbles at 1.30pm & Bubbly Maths. And over at the VUE Cinema, shadow puppetry master Drew Colby returns by popular demand with My Shadow & Me. See all family events


We have the best in live comedy and stand-up at venues around town this week. Tonight rising star Tom Glover is at the Purple Turtle, while tomorrow Professor Elemental & Crayola are both at the After Dark and the alternative history comedy podcast It Just So Happened is at the Three Guineas. On Friday Reading’s own Preet Singh is at the Purple Turtle and Comedy Competition winner Lucas Jolson is at After Dark. Then over the weekend Norwegian improv troupe Det Andre Teatret produce a show from the audience’s rubbish and The Zap Show bring sketches, slapstick & stand-up to the Rising Sun!


Still working out what to come and see between now and Sunday? Check out getreading‘s 19 Amazing Things To See At Reading Fringe Festival


An early start at the Fringe today, with Grieg and a Cuppa from 10am-12pm, the Arts Council presentation & funding surgery from 10.30am-3.30pm and Bring Your Own Baby Comedy at 12pm. At 7.30pm comedian Simon Caine looks at the difference between social media and real life in Every Room Is A Panic Room If You Overthink Enough, Remix Jazz Orchestra are at the Minster with The Evolution of the Big Band and former David Cameron adviser Sarah Southern presents her second stand-up show Tentatively Tory. Then at 9pm the laughs keep coming with Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late and Jim Campbell.

Jim Campbell, Tonight, 9pm
Comedian and podcaster Jim brings his new work-in-progress show Beefto the Purple Turtle. It features songs, mime, improv, games and best of all, none of those things.

“A delightful, intellectual charmer of a stand-up routine” – Broadway Baby★★★★
Book tickets

Conversations With Trees, Friday, 7pm

As featured on BBC Radio 3 yesterday and specially commissioned for Reading Fringe. Clog dancer & accordion player Hannah James, Norwegian jazz drummer  Thomas Stronen & BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Jackie Oates come together for this unique collaboration, curated by Late Junction presenter Fiona Talkington. Book tickets

Tom Glover: A Glover Not A Fighter, Tomorrow, 7.30pm
Lactose intolerance. Bike rides. Urinals. Tom Glover is a comedian not afraid to tackle the big issues. Catch this rising star of stand-up ahead of his Edinburgh run next month.

“A firm audience favourite” Chortle
“Absolutely brilliant” Joel Dommett
Book tickets

A Special Relationship, Friday, 7.30pm
Everything is totally fine and normal in both the UK and the US. So what will Transatlantic comedy duo Andy Valvur & Tony Dunham find to talk about? Head to the Penta on Friday for everything you always wanted to discover about cricket & baseball but couldn’t be bothered to Google. Book tickets.


A week of free 7pm gigs at The Oracle Riverside Beach Bar starts tonight with local favourites Mixtape Rock’n’Roll – plus stellar shows all around town!


The 7th annual Reading Fringe Film Festival features short films spanning all genres at the VUE Cinema tonight from 7pm, while Jude & The Technocratsplay the After Dark at 7.30pm. At the Three Guineas Dan Webber takes a humorous look at labels in life & the LGBTQ+ community in Genre Fluid while stand-up Ian Lane offers SAS techniques for managing a family household in Paperweight. Acapella aces Avenue have added a second show after selling out and are followed at the Purple Turtle by Why Even Bother. And at the Minster at 8pm stars from soul, jazz & rap unite for A Change Is Gonna Come

View our full line-up of cabaret, music, talks, family shows & more

Tentatively Tory, Tues, 7.30pm
Former David Cameron aide Sarah Southern – a University of Reading alumni –  was challenged to try stand-up by her life coach, resulting in her first Edinburgh show last year. Now she asks, can she still vote Conservative in 2019? Book tickets

Harvey Greenfield Is Running Late, Tues, 9pm
Paul Richards has taken 25 shows to Edinburgh, with his last one winning Best Comedy Performance at the Swindon Fringe. His latest explores our need to please and why it’s healthy every now and then to sit in a shed eating biscuits & pretending to be Meatloaf. Book tickets


A Change Is Gonna Come: Music For Human Rights brings together Young Disciples & Brand New Heavies singer Carleen Anderson, Jazz Jamaica saxophonist Camilla George, rapper Lady Sanity and Jazz FM instrumentalist of the Year Nikki Yeoh. World premier, Conversations With Trees features folk stars Jackie Oates & Hannah James and drummer Thomas Stronen.

Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra present Scandinavia at the Station, teenage tenor Thomas Cameron tackles favourites from Les Miserables, Coldplay & many more in A Night at the Musicals and The Live Looper – is joined by singer Eve Carnall. And don’t miss Remix Jazz Orchestra‘s The Evolution of the Big BandFriendliness, German indie stars ParakeetsJude & the Technocrats, acapella groups Avenue and The Tonyx, steampunk chap-hop legend Professor Elemental or our Silent Disco at the Abbey Ruins with Are You Listening & Readipop. See all music shows


Family-friendly workshops Into The Wild and Let’s Interface the Music and Dance are followed by a range of talks and panels. Conversations With Refugees features four individuals who have overcome hardships in their home countries to forge new lives in Reading. Find out about Arts Council England at Tuesday’s funding surgery, learn about the future of food at MERL and environmental injustice at RISC. Try clog dancing with with BBC Young Folk finalist Hannah James and hear Helen Jukes, author of the acclaimed nature memoir A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings, in conversation with Radio 3’s Fiona TalkingtonSee all talks and workshops


After months of preparation we are so excited to be bringing 10 days of comedy, music, theatre, family shows, walks, talks and more to Reading!


SMALL SILENCE: From 10am tomorrow to 4pm on Sunday 28 July head to the Broad Street Mall for an immersive sound installation from Richard Bentley and other local artists. Free, no booking required. Find out more.
MARVELO’S CIRCUS: Hop aboard the UK’s only puppet bus in Broad Street. Showtime 4.15pm and tickets are £5, free for under-2s. Find out more.
FESTIVAL LAUNCH: From 7pm, music from Arturo Castro Nogueras, the Flamenco Thief & Ma Bessie, plus Britain’s Got Talent star Magic Mandy. A few tickets just released for this sold-event and some available on the door
SPACE EXPLORERS: A hands-on interactive sound installation at Reading Minster, tomorrow at 7pm and Saturday from 11am. Find out more.


Family-friendly magic & comedy combine in Seska: Quack Quack Bang! while South Street is the venue for Wellbeing with Yoga Reading. Enjoy an Afternoon of Irish Dance, Into The Wild family workshops in Lavender Place, a history of our town through songs, films & poems in Reading Rdg! or try Murder for Beginners with comedian Dan Collins.

Diagnosed – Saturday, 4pm
After a sell-out run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe (“compelling writing and impeccable delivery” **** Fringe Guru) MA Productions bring their acclaimed play – which they describe as “the romantic comedy that’s not that romantic or particularly funny” – to the Penta Hotel. It’s the middle of the night and Ryan has been alone for hours. He is bored and miserable, until Ellen, a brash stranger, arrives. As the night goes on they learn everything about each other, except what they are doing there in the first place. Book tickets

Ben Van der Velde: Fablemaker – Saturday, 9pm
Join Comedy Store & Edinburgh regular Ben at the Purple Turtle for an improvised comedy adventure as he raids the library of his fantastical imagination to create thrillers, romances, ghost stories and more. He’s performed everywhere from Bestival to the FIFA Museum in Zurich – now he is ready for Reading!
“A master of audience interaction” Huffington Post
“Whipsharp, with an air of mischevious mayhem” Chortle
Book tickets

Mixtape Rock’n’Roll: Before We Go Dark, Sunday, 7pm
Famous for compressing power ballads and rock anthems for intimate venues, RISC regulars Nicole & Dan bring their gorgeous harmonies – and the Global Cafe hula hoop – over to After Dark for one night only as they offer a swan song before extinction. Book tickets

Comedy, Cabaret & Conversations With Refugees

As we prepare for 10 days of music, theatre, family shows, walks and more, a look at comedy & cabaret highlights and a truly unique event at the Minster.

Sunday 21 July, 4pm, Reading Minster

A very special event to celebrate 25 years of Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) sees Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington joined by four refugees and asylum seekers who have made Reading their home, having made their way here from Iran, Libya, Syria and Zimbabwe. As well as their first hand accounts the afternoon will feature poetry, music and a specially commissioned short theatre piece devised by local schoolchildren. Entry is by a suggested donation of £5 to RRSG on the door, but places can be reserved online.



Take a lyrical voyage through personal history & ancient myth with The Mariner’s Song and a cycle ride from Reading UK to Reading USA with Tim Millikin. Hear bedtime stories for adults with live soundscapes in The Gates and a look into labels in life and the LGBTQ+ community with Genre Fluid. Plus acclaimed author Helen Jukes and much more


With ticket sales treble the levels this time last year as we prepare to get under way next week, a look at some of our 100 shows and next Friday’s launch evening.

Friday 19 July, 7pm

Head to The Oracle Riverside next Friday for an evening of music, magic and more! Featuring Latin American guitarist Arturo Castro Nogueras, Britain’s Got Talent star Magic Mandy, DIY music star The Flamenco Thief & Ma Bessie.
Free but booking recommended

The historic Reading Minster is the flagship venue for this year’s Fringe, hosting events as varied as Bring Your Own Baby Comedy, An Afternoon of Irish Dance and a rare chance to hear from individuals who have made Reading their home after fleeing adversity at home in Conversations With Refugees, hosted by Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington in celebration of Reading Refugee Support Group’s 25th anniversary. It is also the venue for several exciting musical evenings: the soul-rap celebration of protest music A Change Is Gonna Come; Anglo-Norwegian jazz-folk premiere Conversations With Treesteenage tenor Thomas Cameron’s A Night at the Musicals and Remix Jazz Orchestra’s The Evolution of the Big BandElsewhere the continued partnership with our twin town of Dusseldorf sees several German performers, including Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult with a unique sound project, rising indie stars ParakeetsHARTMANMUELLER& returning favourites Blue Goat Theatre performing 30 plays in an hour. Local acts include Mixtape Rock’n’Roll, Yoga Readingthe TonyxPreet SinghAldworth Philharmonic Orchestra & Lucas Jolson



Ticket sales have got off to a record start for Reading Fringe Festival ahead of its launch next Friday of 10 days of shows for adults and children including comedy, music, theatre, talks, walks and more.

So far ticket sales for the 19-28 July festival are trebles the levels of this point last year. Fringe director Zsuzsi Lindsay commented: “We are delighted that local residents and visitors alike have responded so enthusiastically to this year’s programme. To have sold so many tickets already is a testament to the audiences, artists, partners and Fringe team that make this such a special event.”

The fun kicks off with the free Festival Launch at The Oracle Riverside on Friday 19 July at 7pm, with live music from South American guitarist Arturo Castro Nogueras and DIY music star Flamenco Thief, as well as a special appearance by Britain’s Got Talent star Magic Mandy. Andy Briggs, General Manager of The Oracle shopping centre commented: “Here at The Oracle, we’re excited to be supporting the Reading Fringe Festival again this year. The festival is a great platform for emerging artists and we look forward to welcoming acts from all around the world to the town we love.”

The historic Reading Minster is the flagship venue for this year’s Fringe, hosting events as varied as teenage tenor Thomas Cameron’s A Night at the MusicalsBring Your Own Baby Comedy and a rare chance to hear from individuals who have made Reading their home after fleeing adversity at home in Conversations With Refugees, hosted by Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington in celebration of Reading Refugee Support Group’s 25th anniversary. It is also the venue for two exciting concerts supported by Reading BID, a jazz-soul-rap celebration of protest music with A Change Is Gonna Come and the Anglo-Norwegian jazz-folk premiere Conversations With Trees. Other venues include the Abbey Ruins for Yoga Reading and A Night In The Ruins: Silent Disco and the After Dark for former David Cameron adviser Sarah Southern’s show Tentatively Tory, as well as comedy, cabaret and music. The Penta Hotel is the hub for family shows, which also take place at Vue Cinema, The Oracle, Lavender Place Community Gardens and a puppet bus on Broad Street.

The continued partnership with Reading’s twin town of Dusseldorf sees several German performers appearing, including Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult with a unique sound project and returning favourites Blue Goat Theatre, performing 30 plays in 60 minutes. Local performers include Mixtape Rock’n’Roll, the Tonyx, Clown Sex, Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra and Ma Bessie.

For the full line-up of 100 events and tickets visit or call 0333 6664466.



The Fringe Festival has won the coveted Reading Great Place Award at the Reading Culture Awards 2019.

The prize, sponsored by Reading UK, is given for an artist or artistic endeavour that has promoted Reading’s talent or the town as a cultural destination to a wider audience beyond the town. The other nominees in the category were Reading School of Dance and Mountain Top, a Reading Rep production. Fringe Producer Steph Weller said: “After putting on our biggest festival yet in 2018 this is fantastic recognition for the whole team, all of the artists and our supporters and audiences. And it’s a great boost as we prepare for another 10 days of cabaret, music, theatre, spoken word and more with the 2019 Fringe.”
The ceremony took place at Hilton Reading with over 250 guests. Other winners at the awards include several Fringe partners and venues. Reading Abbey won the Celebrating Reading’s Heritage award, while A Night In The Ruins – which will be followed by A Night In The Ruins: Silent Disco at the Abbey for the Fringe on Saturday 27 July – received the Partnership in the Arts honour. The Broad Street Mall was named Business Champion of the Arts and South Streets Arts Centre won Cultural Space of the Year.  Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director, Reading UK, said: “All our finalists displayed a creativity and passion that makes such a difference to the “city” in which we work, live or do business.  Over the last 12 months, the arts scene in Reading has gone from strength to strength and our winners represent the amazing diversity and quality of Reading’s cultural and heritage offer.”


Where can you visit the country’s only puppet bus on a busy high street, see shadow puppetry at a cinema and, most amazingly of all, somehow make maths fun, not once but twice? That would be Reading Fringe Festival! We’re building on its reputation from bringing the best in theatre, music and comedy from across the UK and Europe to Reading by offering family fun for all ages, from Bring Your Own Baby Comedy and sing-a-long fun to workshops and magic shows.

The stylish Penta Hotel on Oxford Road is the flagship venue for children’s events at this year’s Fringe, including the award-winning Bubbly Bubbles, Seska’s comedy & magic show Quack Quack Bang! and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals. For those who fancy getting moreinvolved, head to the University of Reading’s Harris Garden for Let’s Interface the Music and Dance or Lavender Place Community Gardens for Into the Wild Family Workshops.

See our full line-up of family events


We promised you the best Fringe yet – and YOU have made it the biggest, with over 1,000 tickets sold already, before it starts on July 19, up a whopping 60% on this time last year. So to celebrate, save your friends & neighbours from that awful FOMO feeling with our special offer for the next 24 hours ONLY.

Paul Simon (not the curtain warehouse one) said there must be 50 ways to leave you lover. But with this one-day-only offer we have almost 60 ways to leave your lover, relative or friend…with a big smile on their face, by taking them to one of the shows in our 2-for-1 flash sale. Whether it’s comedy with a coworker, yoga with a youth, gigs with a granny, silent disco with a sale director or theatre with your taxidermist, we know there is something for everyone!

No code needed, just book for any of the shows listed here before 10am tomorrow (Tuesday July 2) and the saving will be applied at checkout


After the curtain-raising 48 Hour Film Challenge and the After Dark Comedy Competition this week, the Reading Fringe Festival kicks off on Friday 19 July with a FREE evening of music at the Oracle Riverside as host Ma Bessie is joined by Arturo Castro and The Flamenco Thief, opening the way for another nine days of some of the best entertainment Europe has to offer!

Friday 26 July, Reading Minster, 7pm

Inspired by our theme of Into the Woods and Beyond and created specially for Reading Fringe 2019, this unique concert combines folk music, jazz, clog-dancing and more. Curated by BBC Radio 3 Late Junction presenter Fiona Talkington, the evening promises an intriguing and thought-provoking magical musical adventure blending the traditions, poetry and legends of Britain and Norway. Alongside Fiona, performers include: jazz drummer and composer Thomas Strønen (Time Is A Blind Guide, FOOD); singer and fiddle player Jackie Oates (The Imagined Village, Rachel Unthank & The Winterset); singer, accordion player and champion clog dancer Hannah James (BBC Young Folk Awards, Kerfuffle); and author Helen Jukes (A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings). Find out more and book tickets


Theatre highlights at Reading Fringe Festival 2019

We’ll be making a scene – lots of them in fact – with the best in theatre from across the UK, Europe & Reading itself

Intimate, unique, funny, informative…from a solo show featuring one Norwegian and over 20 characters to 30 plays in one hour from Blue Goat Theatre, don’t miss top quality drama at next month’s Fringe Festival, with venues including Pentahotel, After Dark, the Rising Star, Purple Turtle & Reading Minster.


With the transatlantic relationship back in the headlines again as Donald Trump visits Theresa May and the Queen, English Theatre Dusseldorf presents A Special Relationship. US stand-up and writer Andy Valvur (The Comedy Store, New York Times) and British actor-director Tony Dunham compare their two nations and ask, are they the twin sons of different mothers?

Theatrical highlights over the course of the Fringe (18-28 July) include: Reading Rdg! Outclass’ history of our town through songs, films, poems & more; Diagnosed, the rom-com that’s not particularly romantic or funny; Total Eclipse: In A Moment My Mum Is Going To Step Out Of The Moon; two-hander Educating GeorgiaAt The Border, a new short-form theatrical piece celebrating 25 years of Reading Refugee Support Group, part of Conversations With Refugees; and Working Birthday’s latest show Clown Sex


Reading, Reading…the town so good that it this month won an award for Best City despite, well, not being one!

But here at Reading Fringe Festival we definitely agree with the ‘best’ part, which is why in addition to comedy, theatre, films and more at our fabulous venues we are taking the show on the road this summer with a range of nature & wellbeing walks, talks and workshops 


On Saturday July 27 join us for a pilgrimage to Reading Abbey. Starting at St Andrews Church Sonning, the British Pilgrimage Trust is offering a free guided walk to the Abbey. The Trust is a charity that celebrates what was once Britain’s most popular expression of leisure and spirituality and aims to renew the tradition fitting modern needs, as a spiritual activity open to all without religious prescription. More information and book your free place.

You know you can rely on Reading Fringe for the best live music, cabaret, comedy and drama, but did you know that this July we also have yoga classes and nature walks?! Reading Yoga are offering eight different classes, from kids yoga to Vinyasa Flow to fit your experience level (or lack of!), at both the Abbey Ruins and South Street Arts Centre. On Sunday July 28 you have the choice of two free guided walks: Rural Reading author and naturalist Adrian Lawson will give his birdsong talk on a stroll from Forbury Gardens, while the Thames Path Walk ‘N’ Talk goes from Sonning Bridge to Reading. Over at Lavender Place Community Gardens children aged three and up are asked ‘is a stick really just a stick?’ at the Into The Wild family workshops on Saturday July 20. And on a less rural but just as fun note, head to the Oracle Riverside for music from Arturo Castro Nogueras & The Flamenco Thief, plus family fun with The Pirate’s Misadventure @ The Whale

From comedy & music to puppets & yoga: something for everyone at Reading Fringe

From an orchestra at Reading Station and a puppet bus on Broad Street to yoga at the Abbey Ruins and live music at the Oracle, the Reading Fringe Festival is taking over the town with its most varied line-up yet this July – and tickets are on sale now.

Reading Fringe – now regarded as one the leading festivals of its kind in the UK – brings together the best international, national and local performers for 10 days of comedy, music, family entertainment, film, art, theatre, talks, walks and much more, from July 19-28.

The flagship venue for this year’s Festival – which has the theme ‘Into The Woods And Beyond’ – is the Grade 1 listed church Reading Minster, which will host everything from Irish dancing and a ‘bring your own baby’ comedy afternoon for new parents, to a conversation with some of Reading’s refugees, a special new commission with artists from Norway and across the UK, and an evening of the best-loved songs from the musicals with a Brit-nominated tenor.


In addition to free family fun and live music at the Oracle Riverside, the Vue Cinema hosts the Fringe’s film festival for the first time, plus popular family show My Shadow and Me. For the best in cabaret, comedy and drama head to pentahotel, the Purple Turtle, After Dark, the Three Guineas, South Street and the Rising Sun, with performers from Norway, Germany, Russia and Spain as well as all across the UK and Reading itself. Music on offer includes jazz, rap, steampunk, folk, soul, classical, indie and a cappella with a twist, while Reading Museum and the Broad Street Mall both host special art installations. And younger audience members are catered for with shows including Britain’s only puppet theatre bus, magic with Quack Quack Bang! and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals, plus some singing snails!

Festival Director Zsuzsi Lindsay commented: “We are beyond excited to be bringing our most eclectic line-up of events yet to the town that we all love. We truly believe there is something for everyone – whether you are a comedy fan, an art aficionado, a film fanatic, looking to keep the kids entertained during the holidays or none or all of the above! And the Fringe simply would not be possible without the support of local businesses, venues and volunteers. This is very much a festival by Reading for Reading.”

The full line-up of over 80 events for adults and children of all ages is available on with tickets for individual performances, ranging from £5-15 as well as several free events, available now. For more information please email Tom Ryan at

Protest Songs Celebration First Event Announced For Reading Fringe Festival 2019

A special collaboration between leading soul, jazz and hip-hop stars celebrating the power of protest songs has been announced as the first event for this year’s Reading Fringe Festival, with tickets now on sale. 

A Change Is Gonna Come: Music For Human Rights will take place at the historic Reading Minster on Monday July 22. The show is fronted by four of the most respected women in the UK music scene, together on stage for the first time: soul singer Carleen Anderson, rapper Lady Sanity and jazz virtuosos Nikki Yeoh and Camilla George. Backed by bassist Renell Shaw and drummer Rod Youngs – who have played with Hugh Masekela, Skepta and Gil Scott Heron – they will perform unique interpretations of iconic songs from the civil rights era through to today, with new material by Anderson and Yeoh featuring alongside political anthems by Woody Guthrie, Nina Simone, Brandi Carlile and Marvin Gaye, as well as the Sam Cooke classic that gave the concert its name.

Anderson, who was described as “phenomenal…one of a kind” by James Brown, has followed her work with Young Disciples, Brand New Heavies and Paul Weller with an acclaimed solo career. She also acts as musical director for the project alongside Jazz FM Instrumentalist of the Year Yeoh, who has accompanied Neneh Cherry, The Roots and many more on piano and keyboards. Rising star rapper Lady Sanity has toured KRS One and represented the UK at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony last year, while MOBO nominee Camilla George is perhaps best known for her work with Jazz Jamaica. 

Festival Director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “We are thrilled to be one of the select venues for this fantastic show alongside the Southbank Centre and WOMAD, bringing these internationally recognised performers it to the beautiful and intimate setting of Reading Minster will make for one of the most special nights in the Fringe’s history. And given the subject matter and the turbulent times we face today, we are delighted to be partnering with Reading Refugee Support Group for this event, as they mark 25 years of such important work.”

Taking place from July 20th to July 28th, the 2019 Reading Fringe Festival will bring over 100 events to venues across the town including comedy, film screenings, art installations, talks, music, theatre and family entertainment. Tickets for A Change Is Gonna Come, at Reading Minster on Monday July 22 at 8.30pm, cost £12 (£8 concessions) but are available at until April 30 for the special price of £8. The rest of the programme for the Fringe will be revealed next month.

For further information please contact Tom Ryan at

Pioneering music and dance provide ice-cool relief from the summer heat at Reading Fringe

Pioneering music and dance provide ice-cool relief from the summer heat at Reading Fringe


The weather may be sweltering, but Reading Fringe Festival has put ice at the centre of a super cool programme of culture this summer.


As temperatures continue to soar, pioneering musician Terje Isungset will be performing on the main stage at Station Hill on instruments crafted from solid blocks of pure ice.


Terje will be joined by the sublime Norwegian vocalist Maria Skranes for a set using amazing ice instruments including ice horns, an iceofon and ice percussion.


Reside Dance Company will also be interpreting Terje’s music on stage and inviting audiences to experience it through images of growth and community. 


The climate stays firmly on the agenda at Reading Fringe 2018 as BBC Radio Three presenter and Fringe Festival guest curator Fiona Talkington hosts a special debate with guests who have an interest in ice, climate change, the arts and more in the inspiring and historic surroundings of The MERL, at the University of Reading.


Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “Terje’s music and instruments have to be seen and heard to be believed. They will be a beautiful and ethereal contrast to this sweltering summer and something that the Fringe has never seen before. We’re also delighted to have Fiona to curate such an interesting programme of events and chair what is sure to be a brilliant and lively discussion.”


  • Climate Symposium “A world without…” is hosted by Fiona Talkington at MERL on Friday 27July at 1pm
  • Ice Music by Terje Isungset is at Station Hill on Friday 27 July at 9pm

For a full Reading Fringe Festival programme and tickets visit

The Fringe Returns to Take Over Reading

Fringe returns to take over Reading

This July, Reading Fringe once more brings a celebration of art and culture to Reading.

Now in its sixth year, Reading Fringe 2018 welcomes more than 100 different local and international performances and events at 18 venues across Reading. Festival-goers can expect anything from musical instruments made of ice, to urban art, comedy, cabaret, family-friendly workshops and more.

Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “This year’s festival is all about creating connections through art and culture. We wanted to do this through the international acts we’re welcoming to Reading, but we also want people to connect with each other through shared experiences, for example commuters at Reading station stopping to look up from their phones to enjoy one of the pop-up performances. 

“We’re delighted and proud to invite so many performers and artists to our town and put them on such an exciting programme alongside the very best that Reading arts and culture has to offer.”

Among the many family-friendly events at this year’s Fringe is Bicycle Boy, a bicycle powered musical in association with Reading Rep Theatre for children aged six to ten. Drew Colby also enchants youngsters with shadow theatre in My Shadow and Me, and singer-songwriter Nick Cope charms little fans with great songs at an exclusive concert for a young audience.

Fans of visual art can look forward to an urban artist from Dusseldorf and the sixth run of the Reading Fringe Film Festival, showing short films by new and upcoming filmmakers from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. There’s still time for aspiring filmmakers can submit their films. 

A full programme of creative possibilities will be available for visitors at The Oracle, with local artists sharing their artistic skills at the Family Friendly Arts & Crafts Workshop, as well as a family acting master class taking place at the Drama Workshop. The Open Mic & Live Music will give visitors the chance to show off their talents on stage, or sit back and enjoy the amazing talent Reading has to offer.

Kev Munday will be leaving a lasting touch on the Riverside Car Park lift, as he uses his people watching skills to produce a bespoke piece of art in the elevator. Visitors can watch the piece come together over the course of the festival, whilst unknowingly contributing to the creative development.

The organising team is looking for a Reading band to play the launch party on 23 July supporting main act Professor Elemental. Email: (ADDRESS) to get in touch.

For press and media relations please contact James Kell on 07825293340 or email:

From a circus top to late night movies: Broad Street Mall’s central role in Reading Fringe Festival

Broad Street Mall will see the circus come to town this year as families enjoy one of the Fringe Festival’s amazing venues.

For the first time in 2018, a circus tent will be put up inside the shopping centre which will be home to everything from stand-up comedy to poetry, family films and late-night screenings of cult classics.

Highlights include a screening of musical smash the Greatest Showman, comedy from TV and radio’s Nick Hall, and poetry exploring gender in Lolita Paints Her Toenails. A full list of screenings and shows can be found in the official Fringe Festival programme.

Festival director Zsuzsi Lindsay said: “We loved the idea of creating this space inside a busy shopping centre. The circus tent will not only look great, it will be really versatile. By day there’s lots for families to enjoy, and by night the atmosphere will be more cosy and intimate. We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Broad Street Mall for the first time this year.”

Graham Mountford, centre manager at Broad Street Mall said: “We’re

thrilled to be an official Fringe Festival venue this year. The

programme of screenings and shows planned for Broad St. Mall is really

exciting and diverse – offering something for everyone to enjoy –

from young couples, to families and the older generation.”

  • Reading Fringe Festival comes to Broad Street Mall from Wednesday 25th July to Sunday 29th July. For more on the Reading Fringe Festival programme visit

Press and media please contact James Kell via: or 07825293340

Join Professor Elemental on stage at Reading Fringe Festival

Budding musicians are needed to join British chap hop artist Professor Elemental on the Fringe Main Stage in July.

Having done voice overs for Disney characters, adverts and charity campaigns and traveled the world with his shows, Professor Elemental is now looking for a supporting act to warm up the crowd ahead of his set at Reading Fringe Festival.

To apply auditionees just need to send clips of their act, or link to Youtube or Instagram, to Reading Fringe.

Clips should be between three to five minutes long.

Send your audition clips on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or by mailing directly.