A idyllic, historic place with peaceful parks and abbey ruins, this Berkshire town transforms when its famous music festival kicks off each August.
With a fascinating past told through the remnants of religious treasures, Reading is one of England’s most historically important towns. It stands in the heart of the rolling green countryside of Berkshire. Wander through the town center on foot and gaze up at the range of structures that showcase the changing faces of the town. See another side of the town during the Reading Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in England, held in August.
Wander along the labyrinth of paths crisscrossing through Forbury Gardens in the town center. Inspect the impressive Maiwand Lion battle monument and climb to the peak of Forbury Hill for panoramic views of the greenery.
On the eastern side of the park lies the Reading Abbey Ruins, comprising well-preserved ramparts of a religious behemoth. Pass through the arches and portals of the surviving walls and attend a Shakespeare production here in summer.
Enjoy a picnic on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal, which passes beside the gardens and ruins. Rent a boat and travel along the waterway to the bucolic outskirts of Berkshire. Back in town, the canal runs through the Oracle shopping center. Watch a film in the mall’s large movie theater and browse the array of shops and restaurants.
Get a sense of the local community with trips to the historic churches of Reading. The St. Laurence Church, which has a Norman frontage and dates back to the 12th century, now contains pool tables and puts on activities for its youth club. Marvel at the Gothic façade of the Minster Church of St. Mary the Virgin, the town’s oldest religious building.
The town stands between the important cities of Bristol, Oxford and London in southern England. Fly to one of the airports in London; central London is 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Reading. Drive between the two cities in 60 to 90 minutes or take a 30-minute train. Visit other historic towns in the region, such as Bath, Winchester and Windsor.