Skip to main content

The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time

26 Aug 2021-29 Jan 2022

2021 marks fifty years of Reading Festival. This iconic event placed Reading on the map for music lovers across the globe. Many of the world's greatest names in rock and pop have wowed fans from Reading's stage, and continue to today.

This major anniversary forms the heart of our latest exhibition: 'The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time’, a retrospective of that iconic first festival.

Join us in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery to explore the story of the very first Reading Festival back in 1971. See astonishing objects, items and ephemera from the festival's history. View rare and unseen photos by legendary photographers including Jill Furmanovsky, founder of the Rock Archive. Learn about the first festival's history through narration by rock music expert, Ian Shirley of Record Collector magazine. And discover creative responses by local young people, in partnership with local charity The Rock Academy, exploring what the festival means to them today.

'The 1971 READING FESTIVAL: For the First Time' is free to view and runs from Thursday 26 August 2021 to Saturday 29 January 2022 in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery. Plan your visit today.

This exhibition has been made possible with funding from Arts Council England awarded to Museums Partnership Reading via their National Portfolio Organisation programme, and generous support from Melvin Benn, Director of Festival Republic who has been organising Reading Festival for over thirty years.