Where: Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
£: Free to watch but donations to this charitable cause are most welcome.
What is it?
This year the 49th annual Great Knaresborough Bed Race takes place on 14th June in North Yorkshire. The quirky event has been run every year since 1966, no matter what the weather.
The bed race is part pageant of decorated beds with teams in fancy dress, and part gruelling time-trial through very difficult but spectacular terrain. Each year the event has a theme and this year’s theme is Children’s Film and TV Characters.
On the morning of the race, the teams gather at Knaresborough Castle to be judged for the ‘Best Dressed Team’ accolade. This is followed in the afternoon by a parade through the streets of Knaresborough to Conyngham Hall, with all the competitors in their finery. For the parade, each team is allowed up to 20 supporters to parade with them, all wearing fancy dress. The parade is usually completed by marching bands, troubadours and dance groups.
The 2.4 mile race goes through the Nidd Gorge, along the waterside, up the vertiginous Castle Ings to the Castle and Marketplace, down Bond End and finishing with a 20 yard swim. The swim involves the runners and passengers, complete with bed, all going through the River Nidd; the bed race is not for the faint-hearted!
Some teams enter to be the fastest, some to have the best decorated bed, others to win the most entertaining team award, but this being Yorkshire, all compete fiercely. The event attracts 25,000 spectators and is volunteer-run by the Knaresborough Lions Club. Through the organisers, the teams and the involvement of charities and voluntary groups the event raises between £80,000 and £100,000 for good causes. The Bed Race has even spawned other such events in Germany, the USA and New Zealand.