Where: Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
£: Free to watch but donations to this charitable cause are most welcome.
What is it?
The 52nd annual Great Knaresborough Bed Race will take place on Saturday 10th 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 Heroes and Villians. The idea for the Great Knaresborough Bed Race was thought up as a way of raising money for charity and the first race saw just four intrepid teams take part.
This year’s programme is yet to be published, but on the morning of the race, from 9am to 11am, the teams usually gather in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle, to be judged for the ‘Best Dressed Team’ accolade. At 12pm a fete will open at Conyngham Hall Fields with amusements, stalls, food and a bar.
This will be followed in the afternoon, at around 1pm, 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 joined by marching bands, troubadours and dance groups.
The race itself will begin at 3pm, heading through the Nidd Gorge, along the waterside, up the vertiginous Castle Ings to the Castle and Marketplace, down Bond End, finishing with a 20 yard swim. The swim will involve the runners and passengers, complete with bed, 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 usually has a large screen for spectators.
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 usually raises between £80,000 and £100,000 for good causes.
The Great Knaresborough Bed Race has become so popular it has even spawned other similar events in Germany, the USA and New Zealand.