Down at the Abbey is an independent music festival in the Reading Abbey Ruins.

In 2019, the award-winning team behind Are You Listening? Festival launched a music festival in the stunning Reading Abbey Ruins: Down at the Abbey.

Festival Warm-Up Party on Friday 10th September 2021.
Down at the Abbey returns on Saturday 11th September 2021.

We’ve curated two stages of thrilling live music to bring this magical setting to life. Siren Craft Brew are providing their award-winning craft beers and ciders, and we have the finest selection of gourmet street food, coffee, cocktails and more to delight your senses.

Come and witness history.

FAQ

What are you doing to make Down At The Abbey COVID safe?

Your safety is our number on priority, so below we’ve outlined what we’re doing to keep you all safe from COVID.

What are the entry requirements for the festival with regards to vaccinations and testing?

  • Do not attend the festival if you are unwell, have COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. 
    The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. If you have any of these symptoms to do not attend the festival and follow NHS guidelines.
  • We won’t be asking for proof of vaccination or a negative test on the gate. However, we strongly encourage you to take a free lateral flow test 48 hours prior to attending and we recommend doing the same post-festival for your own peace of mind. These can be ordered online or collected in person from various places (a list can be found here).
  • Our festival is small, local, and fully outdoors and we are confident that we can ensure a safe and comfortable environment for you all to enjoy.
  • Please be kind, be careful, respect each other’s personal space, and continue to take precautions to help ensure a wonderful experience for everyone.

How do you feel about the wearing of masks?
We want our audience to feel comfortable and relaxed to enjoy the festival. Though masks are not mandatory, we have no issue if you wish to bring or wear one.

Will there be lots of space on site?
Yes. We have been working hard on producing a well thought out site plan that takes into account the current re-entering into normality after a pandemic. We will keep in place a reduced selling capacity this year.

What about cleanliness on site?
We have hand sanitiser stations throughout the site, regular cleaning of our toilets, and heightened disinfection of other touchpoints during the festival.

Will your site be fully socially distanced?
Due to the limited space in the Abbey Ruins site, we are unable to produce a fully socially distanced festival. If it was a requirement that the festival could only continue being socially distanced we would reschedule the festival to 2022 and ticket holders could either roll over the ticket or request a refund.

Can I leave and return once I enter the site?
Yes, customers can leave and re-enter the site until 8pm at night. Please note the same re-entry/checking procedures will be in place when you return.

We will look to notify our ticket holders of any important changes but rest assured, we want you to be able to attend, feel safe, and have a great time.

If you have a question in the meantime about anything, please email us at info@heavypop.co.uk.

How do I get to Down At The Abbey?

GETTING TO THE FESTIVAL

Down At The Abbey Festival is held in the Reading Abbey Ruins in Reading, RG1 3BA.

    • The Abbey Ruins are two minutes walk from Reading Train Station and all the town centre bus stops.
    • Coming by Train? Plan your journey here 
    • Coming by Car? There is no public parking on site.
    • Reading has three Park & Ride options
    • There are also numerous paid car parks in Reading Town Centre.
    • Fancy cycling to the festival? Cycling info can be found here

If you have a question about anything, please email us at info@heavypop.co.uk.

Ticket Collection/Purchase

Please walk into Forbury Gardens.

Go to the far corner of the Gardens, near the water fountain. Our Box office Marque to collect/buy tickets will be there and entry to the Abbey Ruins via Gate A.

Box Office Opening/Closing Times

Box Office times –

Friday (10th) Warm-Up (18+) – Box Office opens at 4:30 pm.
Site opening times – 5 pm – 11 pm.

Saturday (11th) – Box Office opens at 10:30 am.
Site opening times – 11 am – 11 pm.

Box Office closes at 8 pm both nights. Last entry/re-entry to site is also at 8 pm both nights.

What Can I / Can I not bring to the festival?

Please find below our list of permitted and banned items.

Permitted items

  • Empty reusable bottles (subject to current Covid-19 guidance). You can refill your empty bottles at the water points on site for free. Sealed / untampered soft drinks 500ml or less.
  • Hand sanitisers (<100ml). There will be sanitation points throughout the event site, as required by current guidance.
  • Cold food (sandwiches, picnic snacks etc).
  • Picnic blankets during the daytime event hours (the Event staff will advise when these must be packed away).
  • Small bags (which may be searched by the Event staff).
  • Buggies / Prams.
  • Photographic equipment is permitted, provided that it is for personal non-commercial use only. We may confiscate and/or destroy any unauthorised recordings. Unauthorised professional recording equipment must be surrendered to Event staff.

Banned Items

  • Strictly no outside alcohol will be allowed on site.
  • No glass (including bottles, jars, etc), weapons, fireworks, smoke canisters, and other similar articles are permitted onto the site.
  • No animals (except assistance dogs) are permitted onto the site.
  • No bicycles, scooters, or similar items; drones, umbrellas, large bags, or inflatables are permitted. Portable chairs are not allowed on-site unless pre-arranged. If you need to bring a portable chair with you for your access requirements, please email info@heavypop.co.uk
  • We operate a zero-tolerance drug policy. Anyone found using or possessing illegal drugs will be ejected from the festival and refused re-admission.
  • Anyone resisting the surrender of disallowed items or disregarding these conditions will be ejected from the festival and refused re-admission.

What food / drink is there on site?

We have partnered with some wonderful food and drink vendors.

DRINK PROVIDERS 

We are extremely proud to have Siren Craft Brew back as our official beer partner. Siren will be selling a selection of their award-winning beers on draft, along with their canned beer and delicious craft cider.

Heavy Pop will also be selling a wide selection of tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages including wine and prosecco, TOAD Gin, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks and more.

Anonymous Coffee will be serving expertly crafted coffee, tea and delightful cakes and pastries.

You can find all of these The Chapter House at the heart of the festival.

Cup Exchange

The Festival Bar also houses our Cup Exchange, where re-usable cups cost a £2 deposit and Heavy Pop are selling merchandise and Friends With Benefits membership.

FOOD PROVIDERS

The Bowler x Swaadish Curry Sauces are on site Friday & Saturday. Expect fabulous curry topped flatbreads, masala fries and more.

Makan Malaysia are on site both Friday & Saturday. Sue and Kat return with their delicious, authentic Malaysian cuisine.

The Fat Tabby Catering are on-site Saturday Only. Made from 100% steak and seasoning, Fat Tabby’s have a sumptuous range of gourmet burgers.

We Are Friends are on site for Saturday Only. Purveyors of the most tasty plant-based comfort food around. Expect seriously good handmade pies and more!

For more info on all our vendors, please click here.

The site is fully outdoors

Please note the festival is fully outdoors.

  • Umbrellas not permitted.
  • Bring a waterproof jacket, jumper as this is England and our weather can be temperamental. The site does get cooler in the evening.

What is the history of Reading Abbey Ruins?

Magical setting

Reading Abbey Ruins is a venue like no other.

King Henry I started the construction of Reading Abbey in 1121, but he died before it was finished and was buried there in 1135.

The abbey was formally opened by the Archishop of Cantebury, Thomas Becket in 1164 and once built, the great royal abbey was one of the wealthiest monasteries in England and one of the largest in all of Europe.

During it’s 400 year existence, the abbey hosted Royal Weddings and Funerals, Parliament was held there, and

Relics: thousands of pilgrims visited the abbey for blessings and cures.

The abbey own Reading town and created much of the town that remains today.

Reading Abbey’s tie to music goes back to the beginning. The oldest recorded piece of music in English, Sumer Is Icumen In (or “Summer Is Coming In”) was probably written in Reading Abbey, dating back to the 13th century. It is also the first recorded use of the word “fart”.

After more than 400 years of existence, in 1539 King Henry VIII ordered that Reading Abbey be destroyed as part of the English Reformation. The monks were banished and the Abbot – Henry’s close friend, Hugh Cook of Faringdon – was hanged, drawn and quartered.

Following it’s closure, the abbey was made a royal lodgings and during  the English Civil War it was used as a fort by Charles I, where it was sieged and mostly destroyed.

Jane Austen studied in Reading Abbey Gate

Reading Gaol was built on part of the ruins, and Oscar Wilde was famously imprisoned there in 1895 writing the “Ballad Of Reading Gaol” about his time there.

In 2008, the ruins were closed as parts of the monument were falling down. Following a £3 million renovation, the Grade I Listed, Scheduled Monument was re-opened in June 2018.

We’re extremely excited that this magical corner of Reading has reopened and that we’re able to start a new chapter in the enormous and rich history of the ruins. Thank you for joining us Down At The Abbey.

Can I Volunteer at Down At The Abbey?

We’re looking for Volunteers to help out at our Wristband Exchange for Down At The Abbey Festival.

We need fun, reliable music lovers to hand out wristbands to Advanced Ticket holders and to sell Tickets on the day. You will be needed for six hours and you will have an on-site induction and continuous support during your shift.

Our Volunteers are an important part of the Down At The Abbey family and for giving up your precious time, you’ll receive a free Festival Wristband; free Festival T-shirt and Programme and free Food and Drink Vouchers.

If you’d like to sign up or have any questions, please get in touch at info@heavypop.co.uk

What is the Accessibility like at Down At The Abbey?

Down At The Abbey – Access Information

Down At The Abbey is a one-day music festival in the spectacular setting of the Reading Abbey ruins. We are committed to making sure every single person has the best time possible at our festival.

If you have any questions about Access at the festival, please email us at info@heavypop.co.uk or telephone the office on 01189 327 2050. We will try to respond to all email enquiries within 5 working days.

NEED ON-SITE ASSESSMENT; ESPECIALLY RE: RAMPS, TOILETS, DRINKS POINTS, ETC. Include photos.

Terrain / Site Description

The festival is located in medieval abbey ruins, so some ground can uneven. Mostly the site is surprisingly flat and accessible from gravel tracks. The Acoustic Stage and Food Areas are very flat, with some abbey walls around. The Main Stage area is mostly grass and is sloped on a shallow incline towards the river and smoking area.

Personal Assistants

We are proud to offer free tickets for Personal Assistants.

To apply for one, please purchase your ticket and then email us at info@heavypop.co.uk with your ticket confirmation number.

Getting Here

Link to Getting Here Page

Distances (approximate)

Entrance > Acoustic Stage – 50 metres

Entrance > Festival Bar – 75 metres

Entrance > Main Stage – 125 metres

Entrance > Accessible Toilets – 150 metres

Viewing Areas

The Main Stage has a viewing area at the front of the main space, with a direct site line of the stage. There will be a steward on hand to allow you access. The Acoustic Stage is much smaller and does not have a specific viewing area.

Accessible Toilets

Accessible toilets are located at the rear of the Main Stage area, accessed by a gravel path. There will be a steward on hand to allow you access.

Quiet Areas

There are no specific Quiet Areas on the site, but the First Aid Tent next to the Acoustic Stage can be used if required.

Hearing Loops

We currently do not offer an auditory enhancement or assistance such as British Sign Language.

Assistance Dogs

We welcome assistance dogs. Please inform us ahead of the event so we can prepare staff to receive you and your dog.

Strobe Lighting

Some performances may use strobe lighting or hazers (smoke machine). If this is an issue, let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate you, or let a member of staff know on arrival.

Who are Heavy Pop?

Heavy Pop Promotions are an independent concert promoter based in Reading.

Started in 2015, the company was formed by two local promoters joining forces with the aim of putting on high quality shows and festivals for the best live acts around.

Previous Heavy Pop concerts include Gaz Coombes, Royal Blood, The Amazons, Wolf Alice, Slaves, This Is The Kit, Ezra Furman, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Drenge, and many more.

Heavy Pop also run the award-winning Are You Listening? Festival, the annual Beat Connection all-dayer and of course Down At The Abbey.

For full Heavy Pop listings head to www.heavypop.co.uk

How do I get in touch with the organisers?

Send us an email at info@heavypop.co.uk with any questions or if you just want to say ‘hi’.

What are the festivals Terms & Conditions?

Down At The Abbey Festival – Ticket Purchase Terms & Conditions

Definitions

‘Festival’, ‘We’/‘Our’/‘Us’ means the event organisers Black & White Music Ltd t/a Heavy Pop.
‘Event’ means the festival event called ‘Down at the Abbey’
‘Wristband Exchange’ means the box office at the festival site during the event.
‘You’, ’Your’ means the ticket holder / member of the public attending the event.

Covid-19

1. The Event will comply with all guidance issued by the Government in relation to Covid-19 for this Event, which may include conditions of entry. We will require your compliance and co-operation with any such requirements. You must at all times comply with any and all instructions given to you by Event staff and stewards and your failure to comply or co-operate may lead to your eviction from the site and Event without a refund. You must not enter the site if you believe that you may have been infected with Covid-19 and/or you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

General

2. For ticket or general event enquiries, please contact us on info@heavypop.co.uk
3. The Festival reserves the right to add, withdraw or substitute artists, and to vary the advertised programme and timings. Tickets are for the Event and not for a specific artist or billed attraction.
4. Do not buy tickets or goods from unlawful street traders/touts. There is no guarantee of tickets’ validity for entry unless purchased from official ticket agents for the Event.
5. Ticket resale is not allowed.
6. Anyone aged 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Children aged 10 and under are required to wear a contact number wristband that we will provide at the Wristband Exchange.
7. Food and drink will be available on site for purchase at the Event. Proof of age may be requested at the point of entry and at the bars. A Challenge 25 policy will be in place for all alcohol sales on site.
8. Friday (10th) Warm-Up (18+) – Box Office opens at 4:30 pm
Site opening times – 5 pm – 11 pm.
Saturday (11th)Box Office opens at 10:30 am.
Site opening times – 11 am – 11 pm.
Box Office closes at 8 pm both nights. Last entry/re-entry to site is also at 8 pm both nights.
9. Ticket holders may be subject to search on entry, or on site at any time.
10. The Festival will refuse admission or eject a ticket holder without refund for unreasonable or dangerous behaviour.
11. Ticket holders consent to inclusion in official photographic, visual and audio recording of the Event for promotional purposes.
12. All those attending the Event do so at their own risk.
13. These T&Cs are subject to change from time to time without notice and in our sole discretion. We will notify you of amendments to these T&Cs by email. Final rules to be agreed in conjunction with the licensing committee, police and event organisers.
14. These T&Cs are governed by English Law and any dispute arising out of or in connection with these T&Cs shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

Refunds

15. Tickets cannot be refunded under any circumstances other than Event cancellation.
16. Personal arrangements including, but not limited to, travel, subsistence, and accommodation relating to the Event are at your own risk and we shall not be liable for any losses incurred from personal arrangements or wasted expenditure beyond the ticket refund.

Banned Items

17. Strictly no outside alcohol will be allowed on site.
18. No glass (including bottles, jars, etc), weapons, fireworks, smoke canisters, and other similar articles are permitted onto the site.
19. No animals (except assistance dogs) are permitted onto the site.
20. No bicycles, scooters, or similar items; drones, umbrellas, large bags, or inflatables are permitted. Portable chairs are not allowed on-site unless pre-arranged. If you need to bring a portable chair with you for your access requirements, please email info@heavypop.co.uk
21. We operate a zero-tolerance drug policy. Anyone found using or possessing illegal drugs will be ejected from the festival and refused re-admission.
22. Anyone resisting the surrender of disallowed items or disregarding these conditions will be ejected from the festival and refused re-admission.

Permitted items

23. Empty reusable bottles (subject to current Covid-19 guidance). You can refill your empty bottles at the water points on site for free. Sealed / untampered soft drinks 500ml or less.
24. Hand sanitisers (<100ml). There will be sanitation points throughout the event site, as required by current guidance.
25. Cold food.
26. Picnic blankets during the daytime event hours (the Event staff will advise when these must be packed away).
27. Small bags (which may be searched by the Event staff).
28. Buggies / Prams.
29. Photographic equipment is permitted, provided that it is for personal non-commercial use only. We may confiscate and/or destroy any unauthorised recordings. Unauthorised professional recording equipment must be surrendered to Event staff.

Welfare

30. We have a zero tolerance policy to harassment and abuse of any kind. If you experience or witness harassment or abuse at the Event, please report it to Event staff or member of security.
31. Smoking is not permitted (this includes e-cigarettes and/or vaping) except in the marked area away from the performance areas.
32. Exposure to loud music may cause permanent hearing damage, please bring ear defenders / plugs if you require them.
33. Under no circumstances shall we be liable for death or personal injury suffered by you arising out of attendance at the Event, unless caused by our negligence. Neither shall we be liable for any loss or damage sustained to your property or belongings. Nothing in these T&Cs seeks to exclude or limit any liability from us for death or personal injury caused by its negligence, or fraud.