Reading and Leeds Festivals

Reading and Leeds Festivals
The Reading and Leeds Festivals are a pair of annual rock music festivals that are held simultaneously on the August bank holiday weekend in the UK and share the same line-up. The Reading Festival takes place on Richfield Avenue in central Reading and the Leeds Festival takes place in Bramham Park between Leeds and Wetherby.

The history of the Reading and Leeds Festivals began in 1961, when the first National Jazz and Blues Festival was organized in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames by music business executive and club owner Harold Pendleton. The festival spent several years in search for a permanent home before settling in Reading in 1971.

By the time the National Jazz and Blues festival found its home in Reading, the jazz content had been almost non-existent. The festival had an eclectic program featuring blues, folk, and progressive rock. It was renamed the National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival and began to mutate into a rock festival, expanding its program to include hard rock, punk rock and new wave.

In the late 1988s, the organizers tried to take the festival in a mainstream commercial pop direction, but the attempt turned out a disaster. Attendance continued to fall until 1992, when the event was taken over by new organizers and was transformed back into a rock festival. Since then, the Reading Festival has been one of the most popular outdoor festivals in the UK.

In 1999, the Reading Festival gained a second leg in Leeds because the Reading site had become too small to handle the increasing attendance. The Leeds Festival experienced some problems during its early years because of violence and riots, but security has considerably improved since then. Besides, the Leeds site is better suited to the needs of festival-goers.

The Reading and Leeds Festivals are like two sides of the same coin. Both events are run by Festival Republic, a UK music promoter that also manages the Download Festival, the Community Festival, the Wireless Festival, the Latitude Festival, V Festival, Electric Picnic, and Lollapalooza Berlin.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Reading and Leeds Festivals share the same bill, so no matter which of the legs you choose you’ll get the same festival experience in terms of line-up. Past headliners at the festivals have included Muse, Eminem, Kasabian, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, The Cure, Foo Fighters, My Chemical Romance, Guns N' Roses, Kings of Leon, Blink-182, and other internationally renowned bands and musicians.

Reading and Leeds Festivals

Photo: Anna Connacher



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