Reading Vs Leeds – Which Is Better?

Reading and Leeds festivals kick off today, and though the full, stunning line-up will whip up and down the M1 to play each over the course of three days, there are subtle differences between the two festivals. Which got us thinking, which is better: Reading or Leeds?



The case for: Heritage, baby! Reading Festival is a descendant of the National Jazz Festival, which was first held back in 1961. Reading’s name is synonymous with rock, and known the world over. Beginning in 1999, the Leeds leg is a relative newcomer.

Reading is also easily accessed from London and further afield, being walkable from the train station, and its close proximity to Reading town centre means festival-goers can easily escape to the town centre when in need of a little civilisation (or a Gregg’s pasty).

The case against: It’s in a town! It’s a tightly-packed, flat site and it all turns brown in the rain.


The case for: Fields, man! Space! Festivals are all about escaping the city and going wild in the country. Set in a bucolic wonderland of rolling hills (with a natural amphitheatre for the main stage), Leeds festival gives you the feeling that you’ve left the rat race behind. The fact that it’s away from residential areas means that the organisers can crank up the decibels a bit too, meaning louder gigs (unless that’s just our imagination).

There’s also – and forgive us for being controversial here – the benefit of a mostly northern crowd. Bands frequently say that British crowds get louder the further north you go, and the crowds do tend to go off in Leeds. They also like to set fire to things more.

The case against: Northern weather. If there’s rain to be had in Britain, you can bet the north will get a drink of it. And a Leeds peculiarity: large chains of linked-handed teenagers accidentally clothes-lining anyone unlucky enough to cross their path. There’s beer at stake, people!

Without wishing to ignite the age-old north versus south debate, which do you prefer and why?

Reading And Leeds Festivals 2012 in photos

Stay tuned to our Reading And Leeds Festivals hub for news reports, reviews, videos and photos from both sites all weekend.

To read the ultimate Reading And Leeds Festivals review, pick up the new issue of NME, which is on newsstands from Wednesday (August 29) or available digitally. If you’re at Reading or Leeds this weekend, be sure to Tweet or Instagram your pictures to #NMEreading and #NMEleeds and the best will make next week’s issue.