Reading and Leeds, England
Beaulieu Jazz Festival
Beaulieu Jazz Festival (1955-1961)
National Jazz Festival
National Jazz Festival (1961–1970)
Reading (since 1971)
Leeds (since 1999)
The Reading and
Leeds Festivals are a pair of annual rock music
festivals that take place in Reading and
Leeds in England. The events
take place simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the
August bank holiday weekend, sharing the same bill. The Reading
Festival is held at
Little John's Farm
Little John's Farm on Richfield Avenue in central
Reading, near the
Caversham Bridge (51°27′52″N 0°59′30″W
/ 51.46444°N 0.99167°W / 51.46444; -0.99167). The
is held in Bramham Park, near Wetherby, the grounds of a historic
house (53°52′04″N 1°23′17″W / 53.86778°N
1.38806°W / 53.86778; -1.38806). Campsites are available at both
sites and weekend tickets include camping. Day tickets are also sold.
The Reading Festival, the original and senior of the two, is the
world's oldest popular music festival still in existence and has
hosted many of the UK's most famous acts over the years, including The
Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, The
Who, Cream, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Genesis, Iron Maiden, The
Jam, The Police, Status Quo, The Pogues, Blur, Pulp, Muse, The Cure,
Radiohead, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys,
Biffy Clyro and Oasis plus
top overseas names such as Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Metallica,
Guns n' Roses, Eminem, Nirvana, Hole, Foo Fighters, blink-182, The
Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It has had various
musical phases over the years, as detailed below. In the twin-site
era, rock, alternative, indie, punk and metal have tended to dominate.
The festivals are run by Festival Republic, which was divested from
Mean Fiddler Music Group. For promotional purposes during
1998–2007 they were known as the
Carling Weekend: Reading and the
Carling Weekend: Leeds. These titles were seldom used when not
NME were contractually obliged to do so as part of
their involvement. In November 2007, the organisers welcomed "Reading
Festival reclaiming its prestigious name" when the sponsored title was
abolished after 9 years. In 2011, the capacity of the Reading site
was 87,000 and the
Leeds site was 75,000. This was an increase
of several thousand on previous years.
3 List of headliners
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
The festival typically has the following stages:
Main Stage – major rock, indie, metal and alternative acts.
NME/Radio 1 stage – less well-known acts, building up to an
alternative headline act.
Dance tent – dance music acts, previously sharing a day with the
Lock Up stage, now a stand-alone 3-day stage.
Lock Up Stage (Can be known as Pit Stage) – underground punk and
hardcore acts. Due to demand, from 2006 this stage took up two days
rather than previous years where it was only one day.
Festival Republic stage (formerly known as the
Carling stage) – acts
with less popular appeal and breakthrough acts.
1Xtra Stage – new stage for 2013 that stages Hip-Hop, RnB and Rap
Alternative tent – comedy and cabaret acts plus DJs.
BBC Introducing Stage – Typically unsigned/not well known acts.
(Formerly known as the
Topman Unsigned Stage at the
A panorama of the Reading Festival 2007 arena
Main article: National Jazz and
The Reading Festival officially began life as the National Jazz
Festival, which was conceived by
Harold Pendleton (founder of the
Marquee Club in London in 1958) and was first held at Richmond
Athletic Ground in 1961. However, the festival's roots can be traced
further back to the Beaulieu Jazz Festivals of the 1950s held on the
Lord Montague at Beaulieu in the New Forest, Hampshire. When
alcochol-fuelled violence at the start of the 1960s led to the
cancellation of the
Beaulieu Jazz Festival
Beaulieu Jazz Festival its mantle was inherited by
the new National Jazz Festival. Throughout the 1960s the festival
moved between several London and Home Counties sites, being held at
Windsor Racecourse, Kempton Park, Sunbury and Plumpton, before
reaching its permanent home at Reading in 1971. Since 1964, when
the Festival added a Friday evening session to the original Saturday
and Sunday format, it has been staged over three days with the sole
exception of 1970 when a fourth day was added, running from Thursday 6
to Sunday 9 August.
In the mid and late 1950s Beaulieu was the surprising location for one
of Britain's first experiments in pop festival culture, with the
annual Beaulieu Jazz Festival, which quickly expanded to become a
significant event in the burgeoning jazz and youth pop music scene of
Camping overnight, a rural invasion, eccentric dress, wild music and
sometimes wilder behaviour — these now familiar features of pop
festival happened at Beaulieu each summer, culminating in the
so-called 'Battle of Beaulieu' at the 1960 festival, when rival gangs
of modern and traditional jazz fans indulged in a spot of what
sociologists went on to call 'subcultural contestation'.
The National Jazz Federation (NJF) Festival - as it was originally
known - began at the height of the
Trad Jazz boom as a successor to
the Beaulieu Jazz Festival, initially as a two-day event held at
Richmond Athletic Ground. The line-up for the first two years was made
up exclusively of jazz performers, but in 1963 several rhythm &
blues acts were added to the bill, including the Rolling Stones,
Georgie Fame and
Long John Baldry
Long John Baldry and by 1965 were in the majority,
with jazz sessions reduced to Saturday and Sunday afternoons only.
This format continued until 1967 when jazz was relegated to just the
Saturday afternoon session and by 1969 had disappeared entirely.
1964 saw a Friday evening session added to the existing weekend
format, then in 1966 the NJF Festival moved from its early home to the
larger Windsor Racecourse. The following year a second stage (the
Marquee Stage) was added, but this innovation was not to last and by
the time the Festival was relocated to Sunbury in 1968 the
single-stage format returned.
Plumpton Racecourse then hosted the
Festival for a two-year stint from 1969.
Reading Festival 1975
After the move to Reading the line-up settled into a pattern of
progressive rock, blues and hard rock during the early and mid
1970s then became the first music festival to embrace punk rock
and new wave in the late 1970s, when The Jam,
Sham 69 and The
Stranglers were among the headline acts. The festival's attempts
to cater for both traditional rock acts and punk and new wave bands
occasionally led to clashes between the two sets of fans at the end of
the 1970s', though the festival gradually became known for focusing on
heavy metal and rock acts.
During this decade, the festival followed a similar format to that
established in the late 1970s, with large crowds flocking to see the
era's leading rock and heavy metal acts perform on the last two days,
with a more varied line-up including punk and new wave bands on the
In 1984 and 1985, the Conservative Party-led local council effectively
banned the festival by reclaiming the festival site for 'development'
and refusing to grant licences for any alternative sites in the
In 1984, many acts were already booked to appear, tickets were on sale
Marillion (2nd on the bill on Saturday night the previous year)
due to be one of this year's headliners. The promoters tried in vain
to find a new site but a proposed move to
Lilford Hall in
Northamptonshire failed (the proposed bill was published in Soundcheck
free music paper issue 12 as: Friday 24 August – Hawkwind, Boomtown
Rats, Snowy White, The Playn Jayn, Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, Wildfire,
Chelsea Eloy, Tracy Lamb, New Torpedoes (sic); Saturday 25th –
Jethro Tull, Hanoi Rocks, Steve Hackett, Club Karlsson, Nazareth,
Twelfth Night, Thor, Silent Running, New Model Army, IQ, The Roaring
Boys, She; Sunday 26th – Marillion, Grand Slam, The Bluebells,
Helix, Clannad, The Opposition, The Enid, Young Blood, Scorched Earth,
A significant side-result of the Conservative Party's Reading Festival
ban was filling of the resulting gap in the British festival calendar
by the rise of
Glastonbury Festival from its previously unheralded
status as an infrequently-held CND fundraiser in the 1970s and early
'80s to the massive corporate behemoth it has since become.
After Labour regained control of the council in 1986, permission was
given for fields adjacent to the original festival site to be used,
with a line-up put together at just three months' notice.
The following year saw a record attendance at what was considered by
some to be the last of the "classic" rock years of the festival, with
headlining acts such as The Mission,
Alice Cooper and Status Quo.
Late 80s / early 90s slump
1988 saw a disastrous attempt to take the festival in a mainstream
commercial pop direction, dominated by the likes of Starship,
Squeeze, Hothouse Flowers,
Bonnie Tyler and
Meat Loaf (the latter was
"bottled" off stage), and the ensuing recriminations eventually
saw the ousting of original festival promoter
Harold Pendleton by the
Mean Fiddler Music Group
Mean Fiddler Music Group organisation.
Pendleton initially tried to continue at a new site near Newbury using
the name "Redding Festival" but threats of legal action by the new
promoters of the "official" festival coupled with a reluctance by
Newbury District Council to grant the necessary licence for the
proposed Newbury Showground venue eventually scuppered Pendleton's
plans. Meanwhile, the official Reading Festival, now under Mean
Fiddler guidance, continued at the Thames-side site in Reading,
pursuing an almost completely goth and indie music policy that
alienated much of the traditional fan base and saw attendances
Attendances continued to fall between 1989 and 1991 until the future
of the festival looked to be in doubt. However, things began to
improve from 1992 onward when new organisers moved in to replace the
moribund Mean Fiddler group who broadened the Festival's musical
policy and were rewarded with an increase in attendances.
In 1991, Nirvana made the first of their two appearances at Reading,
midway down the bill. This is also the year the first
such as Suede and Blur started to show themselves on the festival
Nirvana played what was to become their last UK concert, and one of
their most famous. Their 1992 live performance was
later released as a live album/DVD
Live at Reading
Live at Reading in November 2009.
The band's frontman,
Kurt Cobain took to the stage in a wheelchair
pushed by music journalist Everett True, parodying speculations about
his mental health. He was also wearing a medical gown. He then went on
to join the rest of the band, playing an assortment of old and new
By the mid-1990s the festival had begun to regain its former status as
the popularity of UK outdoor festivals increased.
Britpop and indie
began to dominate along with traditional rock and metal acts. Notably,
rap acts such as
Ice Cube began to appear regularly on the main stage
to mixed receptions. Public Enemy headlined the second day of the 1992
Beastie Boys were about halfway down the bill for day three.
In 1996, the remnants of
The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses played their disastrous final
gig at the festival.
In 1998, it absorbed the failed Phoenix Festival. This resulted in a
now infamous on-stage spat between
Beastie Boys and
The Prodigy over
the song "Smack My Bitch Up".
In 1999, the festival gained a second leg at
Temple Newsam in
Leeds, where the
V Festival had been held in 1997 and 1998, when it
was clear that the Reading site had become too small to deal with the
increasing demand. The first year saw all bands play the Leeds
site the following day to the day they played Reading, with the
Reading leg running from Friday to Sunday and the
Leeds leg running
from Saturday to Monday. However in 2001 the current 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, was introduced
(with the exceptions of 2009 and 2010 when the bands playing Leeds
would play Reading the following day, and the bands on the opening day
of Reading would close Leeds).
The main stage of the 2000 Reading Festival
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. The worst of these was in 2002, after which a
decision was taken to move the festival to Bramham Park, near Bramham
Leeds in 2003. Since then, security at both sites
has increased and problems have been reduced. (Although the Bramham
Park site presents more challenges to the stage builders, it is far
better suited to the needs of festival goers).
The early 2000s saw a varied but predominantly rock line-up, though as
the decade progressed the Main Stage and Radio 1 Stage line-up
featured many Indie artists.
Despite being predominantly a rock festival certain hip-hop artists
have played over the years, particularly when hip-hop was very popular
in the early 2000s, including Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, Beastie Boys,
Eminem, Xzibit, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Dizzee Rascal and The Streets.
In 2005, the main stages at both Reading and
Leeds were made larger,
featuring unique cantilevered video screens.
Fringe Festival at Reading
In 2005, the Festival spawned the
Reading Fringe Festival in the town.
Much like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this sees venues in the town
hosting fringe acts hoping to draw crowds and industry figures from
the larger festival. The Reading Fringe has run annually since then.
Banning of flags and banners
Flags were banned from both festival sites for the first time in 2009
on "health and safety" grounds. Flags and banners had been a
traditional part of the Reading Festival scene since the early 1970s,
originally used to enable motorcycle groups and others to identify
themselves and find each other inside the main arena.
Campsite Aftermath, 2016
Reading Festival continued to expand through the early 2010s with a
new record capacity of 90,000 recorded in 2016.
Bottling acts offstage (being forced off stage by a barrage of
audience-thrown bottles and cans) is a long-standing tradition at the
festival. While the mass-participation can and bottle fights of
the 1970s and 1980s have long since ended, unpopular bands have
continued to be bottled offstage throughout the festival's history
since the first recorded large-scale "cannings" of 1973 and 1974.
Old punks The Hellions (featuring ex-Damned guitarist Brian James)
were foolishly placed on an otherwise 100% heavy metal line-up on the
Friday of the 1980 Festival and ignominously retreated from the stage
in under a minute to the accompaniment of a hail of cans, bottles and
pork pies. "I Canned The Hellions at Reading" T-shirts were on sale at
souvenir stands within the hour.
The 1983 reggae act
Steel Pulse suffered possibly the most vicious
bottling-off ever seen at the Festival, disappearing within moments of
appearing on stage under an avalanche of missiles launched by the
temporarily united ranks of punks and rockers waiting to see The
John Waite and the No Brakes Band quit the stage on the Saturday of
the 1986 festival when their drummer was hit in the head by a free
promo 12" vinyl disc.
Bonnie Tyler completed her set despite being pelted with
bottles and turf. Unfortunately, the day's headliner
Meat Loaf was not
so brave, retreating 20 minutes into his set after being hit by a full
two-litre cider bottle. After an initially positive reception Meat
Loaf angered festival-goers by berating them for their treatment of
his good friend
Bonnie Tyler earlier in the day then stormed off stage
when met with a volley of burgers and bottles. He eventually returned
shouting "Do you wanna rock 'n' roll or do you wanna throw stuff?" His
answer came ten seconds later as the cider bottle struck him in the
face, prompting a swift exit, this time for good.
Daphne and Celeste were scheduled on the main stage, but were
bottled off after two songs.
Good Charlotte stopped their set 20 minutes short and
encouraged the crowd to throw bottles all at the same time after a
count of three after being pelted by bottles throughout their set.
50 Cent was pelted with bottles, mud and an inflatable
paddling pool during his set.
50 Cent lasted less than 20 minutes
before finally throwing his microphone into the crowd in anger. The
Rasmus were also bottled off following one song.
In 2006 at Reading,
Panic! at the Disco
Panic! at the Disco lead singer
Brendon Urie was
struck on the shoulder by a plastic bottle and fell over, forcing the
rest of the band to stop mid-song as he lay on the floor. Urie
received "medical treatment" from his road crew for several minutes,
before the band eventually continued from the point at which the song
was interrupted. The same year,
My Chemical Romance
My Chemical Romance were heckled
by a 'small group' of angry festival-goers, who had presumably stayed
behind after watching the previous act Slayer. Lead singer Gerard Way
encouraged the crowd to throw bottles at them instead, and the band
were pelted with golf balls and bottles of urine, among other items.
In 2008, a crowd of approximately 3,000 people attended the "BBC
Introducing" Stage at Reading to see unsigned band 'The FF'ers'
following rumours that it would actually be a secret
Foo Fighters gig
and were subjected to a large amount of abuse from the audience,
including several bottles launched at the band.
Tyler Joseph of
Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots was attacked and robbed as
he attempted to crowd-surf in a half-empty Radio One Tent. Reacting
unfavourably to his "rock-star" antics, hostile festival-goers threw
Joseph to the ground, ripped off various items of his clothing and
stole his ski-mask as he shouted "Get off!" and to band mate Josh Dun,
Help me!" Security guards eventually rescued Joseph, carrying
him to an elevated platform where he announced "We've gotta be done.
That's it.".
List of headliners
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2018: Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Kings of Leon
2017: Eminem, Muse, Kasabian
2016: Foals/Disclosure (Co-headline), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Biffy
Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy (Co-headline)
2015: Mumford & Sons, Metallica, The Libertines
2014: Queens of the Stone Age/
Paramore (Co-headline), Arctic Monkeys,
2013: Green Day, Eminem, Biffy Clyro
2012: The Cure, Kasabian, Foo Fighters
2011: My Chemical Romance, The Strokes/Pulp (Co-headline), Muse
2010: Guns N' Roses, Arcade Fire, Blink-182
2009: Kings of Leon, The Nonce, Radiohead
2008: Rage Against The Machine, The Killers, Metallica
2007: Razorlight, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins
2006: Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Pearl Jam
2005: Pixies, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden
2004: The Darkness, The White Stripes, Green Day
2003: Linkin Park, Blur, Metallica
2002: The Strokes, Foo Fighters,
Guns N' Roses
Guns N' Roses (Leeds), The Prodigy
2001: Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Eminem
2000: Oasis, Pulp, Stereophonics
1999: The Charlatans, Blur, Red Hot Chili Peppers
1998: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, Beastie Boys, Garbage
1997: Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Metallica
1996: The Prodigy, Black Grape, The Stone Roses
1995: Smashing Pumpkins, Björk, Neil Young
1994: Cypress Hill, Primal Scream, Red Hot Chili Peppers
1993: Porno For Pyros, The The, New Order
1992: Nirvana, The Wonder Stuff, Public Enemy
1991: Iggy Pop, James, The Sisters of Mercy
1990: The Cramps, Inspiral Carpets, Pixies
1989: New Order, The Pogues, The Mission
1988: Ramones, Starship, Squeeze
1987: The Mission, Status Quo, Alice Cooper
1986: Killing Joke, Saxon ("It was during a period where the band was
a bit fucked up," admitted Biff Byford. "We had some different members
and the chemistry wasn't quite right, but I recall that it was a good
1985: No festival held
1984 (cancelled): Hawkwind, Jethro Tull, Marillion
1983: The Stranglers, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy
1982: Budgie, Iron Maiden, The Michael Schenker Group
1981: Girlschool, Gillan, The Kinks
1980: Rory Gallagher, UFO, Whitesnake
1979: The Police, Scorpions (replacing Thin Lizzy. "I was drying my
hair by wind – by headbanging," recalled Rudolf Schenker. "I turn
around still shaking my head and I put my head into a fucking wall. So
at Reading I had a bandage on my head)."), Peter Gabriel
1978: The Jam, Status Quo, Patti Smith
1977: Golden Earring, Thin Lizzy, Alex Harvey
1976: Gong, Rory Gallagher, Osibisa
1975: Hawkwind, Yes, Wishbone Ash
1974: The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Traffic, Focus
1973: Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Genesis
1972: Curved Air, The Faces, Quintessence
1971: Arthur Brown, East of Eden, Colosseum
1970: Jellybread, Family, Taste, Deep Purple
1969: Pink Floyd, The Who, The Nice
1968: The Herd, The Nice, Traffic
1967: Small Faces, The Nice, Cream
1966: Small Faces, The Who,
Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
1965: The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, The Animals
1964: The Rolling Stones,
Chris Barber Band,
Kenny Ball and His
1963: Chris Barber's Jazz Band, Acker Bilk's Paramount Jazz Band
1962: Chris Barber's Jazz Band, Kenny Ball's Jazzmen
1961: Chris Barber's Jazz Band, Ken Colyer's Jazzmen
List of historic rock festivals
Love Not Riots
Leeds Festivals line-ups
List of music festivals in the United Kingdom
Workers Beer Company, Workers Beer Company
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List of heavy metal festivals
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List of punk rock festivals
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List of industrial music festivals
(italics = ongoing)
Anger Management Tour
Big Day Out
Family Values Tour
Fuji Rock Festival
Hard Electric Tour
Magic Circle Festival
Monsters of Rock
Rock am Ring and Rock im Park
Rock in Rio
Rock in Roma
Rock Never Stops Tour
Nintendo Fusion Tour
Sounds of the Underground
Summer Sanitarium Tour
Taste of Chaos
The Unholy Alliance Tour
Sign of the horns
Summer of Love
Hip hop music
Hip hop music festival
Historic rock and pop festivals
italics = festival ongoing
Sanremo Music Festival
Festival di Napoli
Newport Jazz Festival
Beaulieu Jazz Festival
Eurovision Song Contest
Benidorm International Song Festival
Thessaloniki Song Festival
Viña del Mar International Song Festival
Melodi Grand Prix
Sopot International Song Festival
National Jazz and
National Festival of Polish Song in Opole
Festivali i Këngës
Festival da Canção
Un disco per l'estate
Parada ritma / Vatromet ritma
Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival
Monterey Pop Festival
Schaefer Music Festival
Miami Pop Festival I
Northern California Folk Rock Festival I
Quebec City Summer Festival
Newport Pop Festival
Festival de Ancón (Perú)
Isle of Wight Festival
Sky River Rock Festival
Internationale Essener Songtage
San Francisco Pop Festival
Los Angeles Pop Festival
Miami Pop Festival II
Big Rock Pow-Wow
Northern California Folk-Rock Festival II
Newport 69 Pop Festival
Denver Pop Festival
Bath Festival of Blues
Mississippi River Festival
Atlanta International Pop Festival I
The Stones in the Park
Harlem Cultural Festival
Laurel Pop Festival
Midwest Rock Festival
Seattle Pop Festival
Atlantic City Pop Festival
Vancouver Pop Festival
Texas International Pop Festival
New Orleans Pop Festival
Toronto Rock and Roll Revival
Altamont Free Concert
Festival of Political Songs
Hollywood Music Festival
The Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival
World Popular Song Festival
Atlanta International Pop Festival II
Super Concert '70
Aachen Open Air Pop Festival
Bath Festival of
Blues and Progressive Music
Kralingen Music Festival
Powder Ridge Rock Festival
Goose Lake International Music Festival
Festival de Ancon
Vilar de Mouros Festival
Myponga Pop Festival
Tokyo Music Festival
Northern Lights Festival Boréal
Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro
Sunbury Pop Festival
Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival
Mar y Sol Pop Festival
Windsor Free Festival
The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival
Day on the Green
Summer Jam at Watkins Glen
Stonehenge Free Festival
Ashton Court Festival
Ozark Music Festival
Watchfield Free Festival
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
Stemweder Open Air
100 Club Punk Special
Deeply Vale Festivals
Waikino Music Festival
California Jam II
Counterculture of the 1960s
Summer of Love
Major British music festivals
Dance & electronic
The Big Chill
Bloodstock Open Air
Monsters of Rock
Give It A Name
Hard Rock Calling
High Voltage Festival
Isle of Wight Festival
6 Music Festival
All Tomorrow's Parties
British Summer Time
Cardiff Big Weekend
Connect Music Festival
Fairport's Cropredy Convention
The Great Escape
Hevy Music Festival
Isle of Skye Music Festival
BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend
Tartan Heart Festival
T in the Park
WOMAD Charlton P