After a hiatus last year due to funding, the Reading carnival was in full swing this year, with early preparations onto social media platforms stating they are back! Curiosity got the better of me, coupled with the desire to attend any carnival, I bought my £18.60 train ticket to Reading. Getting there was relatively easy. Train from Paddington straight there, 25 mins and you’re in. However, don’t make the same mistake as we did by going into Reading main station, as its much easier to arrive into Reading West to get to carnival.
Carnival in contrast to the bigger hype of Nottinghill is extremely small, only two bands on the road. It moves along Oxford Street, with it finally ending at Prospect Park. The procession itself is only 2 hours in duration, 12 to 2pm to be exact and once they arrive in the park, there is a lil bit of jamming, but the main stage is the centre stage and the place to be at. We got there as they were ‘jamming’ in the park. The procession and carnival had actually finished – it was 2.45pm. ‘Jamming’ was actually a float playing music but not too loud and just audible enough to make you want to say “don’t bother”. Burrokeets and few other bands all jumped together bringing up a small truck from London. All wore costumes but it rained a lot that day, so am sure that they were quite happy that it was only 2 hours. Once we had enough, we moved onto to where the main stage was located as that seems to have the people flowing there.
This main stage actually felt like the main reason carnival was on as opposed to the procession and costumes. There was a sea of people, mixed with their children in tow.Different DJ’s came on and hyped the stage, introducing the local talented acts to further enhance the event. It was ok and the people were friendly so we stayed and drank rum to keep warm.
A big thank you to pound shops. We came up there unprepared and on the way found the local poundshop. There we stocked up on disposable ruck sacks, rain sheets and other goodies that we were bringing home. We made a pact to go back there after carnival as there were a few bits we could not carry but wanted them. However, our plans were thwarted when we arrived back too late and they had just closed. I swear the Reading trip would have been worth it if that shop was open – was fuming!
If you’re looking for Nottinghill, Leeds or Bristol – this is not it, Luton, Reading.. all these community carnivals are small, and you got to go just for the love or to support. It is worth a visit, and hopefully the committee will embrace other bands to take to the road, or even create a jouvert!