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Reading Children’s Festival - Forbury Fiesta!

Celebrating 33 Years Of Fun!

Sat 14 May, 11am-4pm

This year’s festival celebrates its 33rd anniversary with three fun packed weeks of events and activities for children all over the borough.  The festival gets off to an action packed start with Forbury Fiesta on Saturday 14 May, where there will be something for everyone to get involved with on the day. Reading’s Children’s Festival promises to bring plenty of fun, mayhem and madness.

From sport and music workshops to fun days with art and craft sessions, take your pick from the many exciting events taking place at venues across Reading. 

This year’s festival is celebrating everything biscuit related as we celebrate 200 year’s of Huntley and Palmers.  So, expect a biscuity themed event!

Forbury Fiesta

Saturday 14 May, 11am-4pm, Forbury Gardens

Forbury Fiesta Main Stage

  • 11:00 – Meet the biscuit charmer Mr Palmer!
  • 11.30 – A Curious Wonderland – The Mad Hatters Tea Party
  • 12:10 – Small Strings
  • 12:45 – Mela dancing
  • 1 – Diddi Dance (20 mins)
  • 1.30 – A Curious Wonderland -  Queen of Hearts
  • 2:00 – Meet the biscuit charmer Mr Palmer!
  • 2:30 – Theatretrain
  • 2.45 – Dance Reality
  • 3:00 – Biscuit Parade
  • 3:15 – Meet the biscuit charmer Mr Palmer!
  • 3.40 – Bengali Cultural Association

We return to the Forbury Gardens for the launch of this year’s Reading Children’s Festival. To help celebrate 200 year’s of Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits we’ll be turning the Forbury into a giant tea party for the day.  Come along and make your own biscuit hat, take part in the biscuit parade and try and spot our very own Queen of Hearts.

Attractions on the day will include children’s entertainment and workshops, charity and information stalls, tombolas, refreshments, face painting, arts and crafts, balloon modelling and that’s not all. 

Join Alice and her friends for a Mad Hatters Tea Party followed by croquet with the Queen of Hearts.  As part of the biscuit related fun prepare to be entertained by Curious Wonderland who will turn the Forbury Gardens into a ‘Wonderland’ by presenting scenes adapted from the book by Lewis Carroll.

The shows are interactive, walkabout theatre that we’d love you to get involved in, giving you the experience of being on your own adventure in Wonderland.

Join in the fun at the ‘Larger than Life’ Circus workshop running throughout the day.  Try your hand at juggling, uni-cycling, hand-held stilts, diabolos, spinning plates and even walking the tight-wire.

Waterstones will be presenting storytime in the bandstand between 12noon 2.30pm.  Come and join Holly and the team in the bandstand for some biscuit related stories and tales!

‘Meet the biscuit charmer Mr Palmer!’  Step back in time to 1840, take the air at Forbury Gardens and meet Mr George Palmer of Huntley and Palmer’s Biscuits!  Hear how he and Mr Huntley have grown their business and how other like-minded Victorian pioneers are putting Reading on the map with their “3 B’s”. 

Mad Hatters Biscuit Party workshop and parade

Join Jelly to make hats inspired by biscuits and Huntley and Palmers for a mad hatters biscuit parade around Forbury Gardens. Workshop runs 11am to 2pm. Parade starts at 3pm. Meet at the Jelly stand. FREE WORKSHOP

Flag Making Workshop 

Join Jelly to make silk flags inspired by our waterways using block printing techniques. The flags will be collected and displayed for Water Fest and Jubilee celebrations along the Kennet. FREE WORKSHOP

To find out more about Jelly go: www.jelly.org.uk or @TheJellyReading on Instagram and Twitter.

THEATRETRAIN - dance act sing

Join Theatretrain in the main arena at 2:30pm who will perform some dance highlights from their 2022 show.  This will be followed by a dance masterclass that everyone can join in!  Theatretrain will also be running taster sessions from their marquee throughout the day.  Why not come along and try something new?

FREE THEATRETRAIN WORKSHOPS - Simply sign up and join in with as many 20 min workshops as you wish! Receive a certificate and gift for every workshop you complete!

11am-11:20am - MATILDA, The Musical

  • Enjoy becoming REVOLTING children for a West End inspired musical theatre dance workshop

11:30-11:50 - ENCANTO

  • A huge musical hit, Everyone's talking about Bruno, are you? Join us for a fun musical theatre workshop

12:00-12:20 - MATILDA, The Musical

  • Enjoy becoming REVOLTING children for a West End inspired musical theatre dance workshop

12:30-12:50 -MARY POPPINS

  • 'Step in time' with us as we have fun together in this dance workshop

1:00-1:20 - ENCANTO

  • A huge musical hit, Everyone's talking about Bruno, are you? Join us for a fun musical theatre workshop

1:40-2:00 - MATILDA, The Musical

  • Enjoy becoming REVOLTING children for a West End inspired musical theatre dance workshop

2:30-2:40pm - THEATRETRAIN PERFORMANCE ON MAIN STAGE

3-3:20pm - ENCANTO

  • A huge musical hit, Everyone's talking about Bruno, are you? Join us for a fun musical theatre workshop

And that's not all...

Join Reading Museum and the MERL at Forbury Fiesta with their Museums on Wheels stall, where you can see and handle some exciting real museum objects. Get creative and make some fun Jubilee and Huntley and Palmers themed paper crafts, and you might even get the chance to meet some Characters of the Abbey Quarter too!

Why not find the Pop up Village marquee where you can have a go at a whole host of children’s role play scenarios – these include a construction site, art studio and lots more.

Join Avanti Cycle who will be providing free Dr Bike checks and repairs and find out more about Cycle Training and family rides in the area.

Also joining in the fun on the day will be: Alder Bridge Steiner Waldorf School, Brighter Futures for Children, Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality, Explore Learning, Dingley’s Promise,  Native Crafts, Fab Fairs, No 5 Young People and a whole host more.

And as if that’s not enough, there will also be refreshments, children’s funfair rides, free face painting and free balloon modelling all day long.

So why not pack up a picnic and make a day of it?  We look forward to seeing you there!

For the full programme of events check back here soon!