Where: Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
£: Free to watch but donations to this charitable cause are most welcome.
What is it?
The 50th annual Great Knaresborough Bed Race takes place on Saturday 13th 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 Popular Culture. The idea for the Great Knaresborough Bed Race was first thought up as a way of raising money for charity and the first race saw four teams take part. Today the race has 90 teams competing.
On the morning of the race, the teams gather at 11am 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 race itself begins at 3pm and 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 certainly not for the faint-hearted!
If you are planning to watch the Great Knaresborough Bed Race, there are several good vantage points. Mackintosh fields are great for watching teams tackle the infamous river crossing and Conyngham Hall has a large screen for spectators. There is also a viewing area in the Marketplace designated for wheelchair users. During the day there will be additional entertainment at Conyngham Hall Fields with a fete, charity stalls, bars and food.
Some teams enter the race 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 usually attracts around 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.
If you like the sound of this quirky event, then why not take part next year? The next bed race is due to take place on 11th June 2016, and entry forms for teams will be available from 1st January.