Situated in the Thames Valley, Reading is just half an hour from London by train. But with a heavy student population and a thriving arts scene of its own, it’s a great place to visit in its own right.

The town benefits from great shopping, excellent nightlife and a whole host of restaurants and bars. Plus, our hotel is situated right in the middle of it all, just next to Reading train station.

With festivals aplenty and a number of open-air spots to enjoy the sunshine, the town really comes alive at summer. If you’re planning a visit this year, our guide on things to do in Reading will keep you right.

Immerse yourself in art and culture

For the sixth year running, Reading celebrates Open for Art – a week long festival showcasing the town’s arts, heritage, culture and creative industries through a range of exhibitions, workshops, walks and performances. Last year included an arts trail, a book club and ‘Breakfast with an artist’ to name a few events, and this year is expected to be bigger than ever. Open for Art 2019 will run from 30th June – 7th July.

There are hundreds of events, large and small happening across the town this summer, but if you’re looking to immerse yourself in local art and culture, then we highly recommend the Reading Fringe Festival. Across one week, the Fringe supports local artists across theatre, film, art, comedy and music. From a puppet bus on Broad Street to yoga at the Abbey Ruins, there’s something for everyone at this year’s event, which runs from 19th to 28th July.

Another highly anticipated event on this year’s calendar is Reading Pride, which returns for it’s sixteenth year at King’s Meadow on 31st August. At 12pm the Parade sets off, whilst throughout the day there will be fun events, market stalls and food and drink traders.

Take a trip through Reading’s fascinating history

Reading and the surrounding areas are home to countless historical landmarks, but none more recognisable than Highclere Castle which is more widely known as Downton Abbey. The castle and gardens have a fascinating history, developing from a red brick Tudor house to the ornate Georgian mansion we see today. There are several tours and events throughout the summer, but tickets tend to go fast.

Within the town itself lies the Reading Abbey Quarter, home to the Reading Abbey ruins, which was once one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The Quarter also includes the Reading Museum, the Grade I listed Abbey Gateway, the Town Hall and Reading Gaol, which was once occupied by Oscar Wilde. Tours are available throughout the summer and the Abbey Ruins are open daily.

Experience Reading’s rich music scene

Readipop Festival is a three-day music festival held in Caversham from 12th – 14th July which raises money for inspirational arts projects that make a difference to people’s lives. The line-up this year includes Sleeper, Brand New Heavies, Cassetteboy and The Orb, who will perform their 30th anniversary greatest hits set.

A guide to summer events in Reading wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Reading Festival. It is the oldest popular music festival in the world and one of the UK’s biggest music festivals, having previously hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who. This year’s event runs from 23rd – 25th August and is headlined by The 1975, Foo Fighters, Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots.

If smaller music events are more to your liking, especially if you’re a fan of beer and cider, then Burghfest might be the one for you. This beer and music festival will run from 27th – 28th September 2019 in Burghfield, just outside the town. With music from a line-up of local artists, you can sample local beers including pale ale, bitters and lager, plus a range of ciders and perry.


Discover local food and drink

English wine has been experiencing a renaissance over the last few years, and the countryside surrounding Reading doesn’t miss out. There are a number of vineyards in the area producing high quality wines. Stanlake Park Wine Estate close to the village of Twyford has been producing English wines since 1979 and offer tours for novices and connoisseurs alike. The vineyard stretches across acres of picturesque land and is the perfect place to enjoy a day in the warm summer months.

For those who prefer a gin, the Great British Gin Festival comes to Reading on 5th and 6th July, with gin tastings, talks from producers and cocktail demos from expert bartenders.

When it comes to food, there are plenty of events in Reading this summer. From 13th – 16th June, Forbury Gardens plays host to Feastival, a food festival created by Blue Collar Street Food, where you can expect street food, bars, fire pits, hay bales and live music and DJs.

Reading Vegan Festival takes place on 21st September with an array of stalls including hot food, drinks, cakes and pies, as well as products from a range of Vegan producers.

If you’re just after some brunch at the weekend, then Malmaison Reading has you covered with a Bottomless Brunch every Saturday. Here, you can enjoy two whole hours of unlimited Prosecco or Heineken alongside your choice of brunch classics.

Enjoy some retail therapy

For those in need of a little retail therapy, Reading has it all. The Oracle Centre on the banks of the River Kennet in the centre of town is Berkshire’s premier shopping destination, packed with high street stores ranging from fashion to food and drink.

Broad Street is the main thoroughfare in Reading, lined with shops from high street names to smaller, more independent retailers. The off-shooting streets are also home to a number of shops, bars and restaurants.

On the street that runs parallel to Broad Street, you’ll find the Harris Arcade, an old-fashioned shopping centre filled with independent businesses, including an ale and cheese shop, a cigar shop, comic book stores and many more.

Kick back and relax

Whether you’ve spent the day shopping or wandering around art galleries, there are plenty of areas within Reading where you can relax in the summer sun. Forbury Gardens is a beautiful park in the town centre. Located next to the main business district, the park is filled with nearby workers, locals and visitors during the warmer months.

For those who enjoy a little more activity, the Konnet & Avon Canal is a go-to. The 19-mile stretch from Newbury to Reading offers the perfect path for walking and cycling, plus there are plenty of canal-side pubs along the way.

Finally, if you’d prefer to be in the water on a hot summer’s day, then the old King’s Meadow Swimming Pool is the perfect retreat. The Thames Lido is located next to the King’s Meadow park, and has recently undergone a £3.5 million refurbishment, and now includes a spa, restaurant and late-night tapas bar.


You certainly won’t be stuck for things to do in Reading this summer. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your visit, Malmaison Hotel is located right in the centre of town. With stylish rooms, a stunning restaurant serving quality dishes, and a sleek bar offering craft beers and delicious cocktails, why not book your stay today?