NEARLY 100,000 revellers will descend on Reading Festival this year and local residents are being reminded to plan ahead so they don’t get caught out by the festival jams.
A total of 94,999 festival goers are likely to attend this year’s event, which is up 5,000 from the 2016 festival. About 70,000 weekend tickets have been sold with the remaining day tickets going fast.
Roads will be busy throughout next week (w/c Aug 21st), but congestion is expected to peak from Wednesday August 23rd and Thursday August 24th as festival-goers arrive in town. It will peak again on Bank Holiday Monday (August 28th) as crowds depart. The town will also be busy for the duration of the festival, which this year runs from Friday August 25th to Sunday August 27th.
Local residents who need to get around town should consider their journey carefully. Where possible, taking the bus, cycling and walking may offer a speedier journey. People who do need to travel are being advised to allow plenty of time.
Parking restrictions will be in place around the Richfield Avenue site and the area should be avoided if possible. Festival car parking is available at Mapledurham and Kings Meadow. Hills Meadow Car Park will be the dedicated area for drop off/pick up. From here festival goers can either walk to the site, or use the free shuttle boats provided. For festival visitors parking at Mapledurham, a pedestrian bridge has again been constructed direct to the site to ensure easy access. For those parking in Kings Meadow, a boat service is provided free of charge to help transport everyone – including tents and belongings – to the festival site.
As usual, temporary traffic management will be in place at various locations around town. For security and safety, a night-time closure of the Thames Path (from 9pm to 6am) will again be in operation from Thursday August 24th, to Saturday August 26th inclusive. The closure will apply between Scours Lane to the far end of Thames Side Promenade.
Like the 2016 event, there is a full closure of Richfield Avenue – between its junctions with Cardiff Road and Tessa Road – from 10.30pm to 1.00am, on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 25th,26th and 27th). This closure is to assist a safe exit from the festival site of the 20,000 day ticket holders.
During Bank Holiday Monday, temporary traffic restrictions will be in place at the Napier Road / Vastern Road roundabout. The northbound closure of Cow Lane will be reinstated between 8am and 3pm to assist the main exit of weekend ticket-holders. It is advisable to avoid driving through these areas if possible, in addition to the areas immediately around the site, during Bank Holiday Monday.
Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The Reading Festival is a fantastic and well-established event which brings with it many thousands of visitors and every August provides a huge boost for local businesses and the town’s economy.
“Working alongside Festival Republic, the Council has built up many years of experience of hosting the event. While the town is of course always very busy, I think the majority of residents would agree it is well organised and that congestion is not as bad as it was in the early years when the town would regularly gridlock.
“Those improvements are only possible with the help of local residents and, as always, we strongly advise people to plan for the inevitable delays that will occur with nearly 100,000 people attending Reading Festival this year.
“Using public transport is very often the best and quickest option during festival time.”
Reading Borough Council has again worked with the festival organisers to produce travel information leaflets. These have been sent out with tickets with details of bus, rail and park and ride services.
The quickest walking route from Reading Station to the site is via the Northern Interchange. Festival visitors also have the option of travelling to the site via hackney carriages, or a special festival shuttle bus that will operate from the northern exit of the station.
To help maintain traffic flow, the Council’s parking enforcement officers will as always be working alongside police to crack down on people who park illegally and cause an obstruction.
Throughout the duration of the festival a temporary taxi rank will be operating in Tessa Road – opposite the Rivermead Leisure Centre next to the festival site – as a further option when travelling to and from the site. There will be a second taxi rank at Thames Prom for those exiting the site on Monday only. Visitors are being reminded that they should pre-book private hire vehicles and not hail them from the roadside. All licensed vehicles will display a Reading Borough Council plate on the back and all drivers should have an identity badge in full view.
For private cars, the official pick and drop off is Hills Meadow car park. Festival goers then have the option of walking along the tow path to the festival site via Christchurch Bridge, the Council’s pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames, or taking the free boat up to one of ticket entrance gates.
While Reading Borough Council is suspending ongoing resurfacing works on traffic sensitive routes between August 23rd and 28th, drivers are asked to be aware of temporary traffic lights in place outside of the borough boundary, on the A4155 Henley Road, in South Oxfordshire, which may cause delays for those approaching Caversham and the festival site.
Rivermead Leisure Centre and its facilities will be closed for normal activities for the three days of the festival.
A special hotline number – 03330035931 – has been set up for local residents’ use who wish to offer comments, or to raise queries during the event. The line will be answered between 9am and 5pm on Wednesday 23rd August, and then 24 hours from 9am on Thursday 24th until 3pm Monday 28th August. Residents can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails will be checked regularly during main event hours.