The story of Reading & Leeds Festival 2021 – in glorious photos

All of the action, as it happens

Finally, at long last – we’re back. After a year of heartache, Reading & Leeds festival returns. For the first time ever, the festival boasts two main stages and six headliners – with Stormzy, Disclosure, Post Malone, Biffy Clyro, Liam Gallagher and Catfish + The Bottlemen set to top the bill, with huge sets also to come from the likes of Wolf Alice, Girl In Red, Yungblud, KSI, AJ Tracey, Mabel and many more.

We’re on site and ready to party. To get a taste of what’s going on, check out the story of Reading & Leeds 2021 as it happens – as told through our beautiful photos. Keep checking back for more updates.

1
Friday: Inhaler

reading

Inhaler frontman Elijah Hewson brings a little early afternoon rock’n’roll majesty to Reading. Check out the review here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

2
Friday: Yorrrrrrkshire!

The crowd at Leeds Festival 2021. Credit: Andrew Benge/Redferns

It’s a beautiful day in Leeds. (Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns)

3
Friday: And the crowd is pumped

reading

It’s been a while, but the Reading massive are back and here for a good time. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

Advertisement

4
Friday: Sports Team

reading fest

Resplendent in dungarees and a bow-tie, Alex Rice gets up close and personal with his fans. Check out the review of their set here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

5
Friday: Ashnikko

Ashnikko, backstage at Reading 2021. Credit: Simone Joyner/Getty Images

Here’s Ashnikko backstage at Reading with *checks notes* a giant vulva. Check out our review of the genre-splicing maven’s live set here. (Photo: Simone Joyner/Getty Images)

6
Friday: Ashnikko being awesome

The future icon poses for NME backstage. Head here to check out our interview with her giving us the lowdown on her debut album. (Photo: Andy Ford)

7
Friday: Declan McKenna

He’s got some tough competition with this crowd, but Declan McKenna could win the best-dressed prize today. Check out the NME review of his set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

Advertisement

8
Friday: It’s good to be back

Let the good times roll, Reading. (Photo: C Brandon/Redferns)

9
Friday: Mabel

“OK Ladies, now let’s get in formation!” What a show. Check out our review of Mabel’s Reading set here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

10
Friday: Leeds loves KSI

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: EDITORIAL USE ONLY Fans watch KSI on Day 1 of Leeds Festival 2021 at Bramham Park on August 27, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Don’t you wish you were there? (Photo: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

11
Friday: Sam Fender

Sam Fender live at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

Having first partied at Leeds festival when he was 17, Newcastle’s finest enjoyed his finest hour airing old favourites and new ones from ‘Seventeen Going Under’ on the Reading main stage. Check out the NME review of Fender’s set here.  (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

Advertisement

12
Friday: Nova Twins

nova twins reading 2021

The multi-genre crossover duo brought some serious noise to the Lock Up Stage on Friday evening. It was awesome. Check out our backstage interview with Nova Twins here.  (Photo: Andy Ford)

13
Friday: Backstage with Nova Twins

Nova Twins backstage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

“Representation is everything, whether it’s sport, music or medicine,” Nova Twins Amy Love told NME backstage. “You always find that people end up going towards their lane because they feel like they can do it when they see themselves there.” (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

14
Friday: AJ Tracey

AJ Tracey Reading 2021

AJ Tracey aired tracks from his recent Top five album ‘Flu Game’, playing to a packed-out Main Stage East. A giant basketball hoop, a cheerleader troupe and striking video interludes – this sub-headline show had it all. Check out the NME review of London rapper’s set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

15
Friday: Stormzy

On Friday night, the rap titan brought out a wealth of guests throughout his triumphant headline set – with Dave, Tion Wayne, and Russ Millions all taking turns on the mic. Read the NME review of Stormzy‘s set here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

Friday: Catfish and The Bottlemen

As reports of their split circulate, Catfish And The Bottlemen put the noise behind them in a competent, if soulless, Friday headline set. Read the NME review. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

16
Saturday: KennyHoopla

kennyhoopla reading 2021

The Ohio native takes a much-needed breather during his pit-opening, tent-shaking lunchtime set. Read our review here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

17
Saturday: Easy Life

The Leicester lads have been dreaming of the seaside for the last year or so, but debut album ‘Life’s a Beach’ truly came to life in, er, Little John’s Farm in Reading on Saturday afternoon. Check out our review of their blissed-out set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

18
Saturday: Sunshine in Leeds

General view of the crowd while Declan McKenna performs on the main stage during Leeds Festival 2021 at Bramham Park on August 28, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Andrew Benge/Redferns)

Yorkshire comes out for Declan McKenna (Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns)

19
Saturday: Jazmin Bean

yazmin bean reading 2021

We enter the beautifully dark and surreal world of Jazmin Bean… (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

20
Saturday: Here’s Jazmin Bean backstage

Yazmin Bean backstage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja
Yazmin Bean backstage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja

Cool AF. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

21
Saturday: Beabadoobee

Bea Kristi made her Reading debut on Saturday afternoon with a charming set at Main Stage East. (Photo: Andy Ford)

22
Saturday: Sigrid

Taken moments before Sigrid started doing knee-slides and ruined her new trousers. See her review of her epic main stage here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

23
Saturday: Sigrid backstage

Sigrid backstage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

“I haven’t felt this good in a really long time,” Sigrid told us during her backstage interview, and you could really tell when she entered full rockstar mode for her main stage set. Check out our interview with the Norwegian pop sensation here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

24
Saturday: Make sure you wash your hands

Crowd scene during Day 2 of the Reading Festival 2021 at Richfield Avenue on August 28, 2021 in Reading, England. (Photo by C Brandon/Redferns)

These guys in Reading, spreading the good word. (Photo: C Brandon/Redferns)

25
Saturday: The Kid LAROI

Aussie rap sensation paid tribute to his late mentor Juice WRLD when opening his Saturday afternoon set: “Long live Juice”, the crowd chanted. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

26
Saturday: Slowthai

Slowthai live at Reading 2021. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

The most punk set of the weekend, courtesy of your old pal Slowthai. Check out our review here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

27
Saturday: Deal Wiv It

General view of the crowd at Main Stage West during Reading Festival 2021 at Richfield Avenue on August 28, 2021 in Reading, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

The Reading crowd telling Slowthai how it is. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

28
Saturday: The view from the stage

The Wombats on stage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja
The Wombats on stage at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja

This is what is looks like to be in The Wombats. Check out our review of their cuddly indie set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

29
Saturday: Let’s Dance To Joy Division…

…or The Wombats. Up to you. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

30
Saturday: Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club at Reading 2021. Credit: Andy Ford
Two Door Cinema Club at Reading 2021. Credit: Andy Ford

The indie-pop survivors bring out the bangers on the main stage. Check out our review here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

31
Saturday: Time to rave

The brilliant people on the front row for Disclosure at Reading 2021. (Photo: Andy Ford)

The brilliant people on the front row for Disclosure. (Photo: Andy Ford)

32
Saturday: Disclosure

Disclosure live at Reading 2021. Photo: Andy Ford

The brothers Lawrence provide the perfect Saturday night sesh. Check out the NME verdict here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

Saturday: Disclosure

Disclosure at Reading Festival

Uns uns uns uns. (Photo by Andy Ford)

33
Saturday: Post Malone

Post Malone at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

“I hope everyone has a great night and celebrates life,” said Posty as he closes his set. “I love you more than words can ever fucking say.” Very nice. Read the NME review of his show here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

34
Sunday: Bad Boy Chiller Crew

Bad Boy Chiller Crew brought the bassline to the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage, blowing away the cobwebs of last night’s hangovers during their early afternoon set. Read the full NME review here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

35
Sunday: KSI

The YouTuber parades up and down the stage with his entourage, the Sidemen, fittingly watching from the sidelines. His pop-rap set was pretty cheesy, to be honest, but the crowd sing along, not seeming to mind the iffy autotune over his voice. (Photo: Andy Ford)

36
Sunday: Holly Humberstone

Ahead of her performance at Reading Holly Humberstone joined us backstage for a quick chat, telling us about her “mad and chaotic” experiences of Leeds Festival when she was growing up. Watch our full interview with Holly here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

37
Sunday: Get your flares out

the crowd while Two Door Cinema Club perform on stage during Leeds Festival 2021 at Bramham Park on August 29, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Andrew Benge/Redferns)

The crowd light ’em up at Leeds during Two Door. (Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns)
Sunday: Blossoms

Blossoms
Credit: Emma Viola Lilja

The ever stylish Stockport lads stepped in for Machine Gun Kelly on the main stage. Check out our review of their set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

38
Sunday: Who loves ya, Kid?

the crowd while The Kid Laroi performs on the main stage during Leeds Festival 2021 at Bramham Park on August 29, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Andrew Benge/Redferns)

The crowd lapping up The Kid Laroi at Leeds Festival. (Photo: Andrew Benge/Redferns)

39
Sunday: Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice showed off songs from their new album ‘Blue Weekend’ in a set that proved they’re future headliners. Read the five-star NME review here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

40
Sunday: Pa Salieu

Pa Salieu surprised the Reading crowd with a stellar secret set – and it was one of the best of the weekend. Here’s what we thought of the knockout performance. (Photo: Andy Ford)

41
Sunday: Yungblud

Yungblud
Credit: Andy Ford

The Donny lad must have a big bath at home (Photo: Andy Ford)

42
Sunday: Yungblud

Yungblud

In his Main Stage West slot, the punk rock hellraiser provides the perfectly eclectic soundtrack to this teenage rite of passage. Read the full NME review of his set. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

43
Sunday: Feel the fire

The stage for Yungblud at Reading 2021. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Yungblud lights up a grey day at Reading. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

44
Sunday: Gerry Cinnamon

Reading Festival

The no-nonsense Glaswegian Gerry Cinnamon was quite the showman in his Reading Festival debut. Read the NME review. (Photo by Andy Ford)

45
Sunday: Biffy Clyro

On their 10th appearance – and their third headlining – they know what Reading want by now, but they’ll only deliver it on their own madcap terms. Check out the NME review here. (Photo: Andy Ford)

46
Sunday: Girl In Red

Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

Norwegian queer-pop sensation Marie Ulven gets up close and personal with fans as she headlines the Festival Republic on a chaotic final night. Read the NME review of her set here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

47
Sunday: Girl In Red

Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

 

Marie Ulven hugs a fan. (Photo by Emma Viola Lilja)

48
Sunday: Biffy Clyro

Go Biffy or go home. (Photo by Andy Ford)

49
Sunday: Oasis or Blur?

Festival goers watch Liam Gallagher during Reading Festival 2021 at Richfield Avenue on August 29, 2021 in Reading, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

 

The crowd for Liam on that age-old question (Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

50
Sunday: Liam Gallagher

The frontman put on a fitting end to a biblical weekend, deriding Noel as “the little lad” and enjoying the fruits of his enormous comeback. Read the NME review. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

51
Sunday: Live Forever

Credit: Emma Viola Lilja

It’s been real, Reading & Leeds. See you next year. Read our overall review of the weekend here. (Photo: Emma Viola Lilja)

Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, interviews photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.

Advertisement
Advertisement