All you need to know about The Great Knaresborough Bed Race 2017

This year’s event is on  Saturday 10 June 2017 with a theme ‘Heroes and Villains’

Preparations are in place the Great Knaresborough Bed Race, the mother of all bed races, which will be held on Saturday 10 June in the medieval streets of this wonderful North Yorkshire market town. It is the 52nd, uninterrupted staging of this event since it was first held in 1966.

Roads are closed from midday until 5.00 pm in the centre of the town, from Harrogate Golf Club, High Bond End and the High Street. Extra train services are anticipated and bus services will run all day up Gracious Street from Low Bridge. There is a free park and ride service operating between GSPK on Manse Lane and ALM on Grimbald’s Crag Close, and Chapel Street.

The theme for this year’s unmissable event is ‘Heroes and Villains’ in a nod to the tens of thousands of people who have taken part in this great event as it passes into its sixth decade. The Bed Race programme describes the many characters from the town’s past who have also exhibited villainous or heroic characteristics – and there are more than you think!

Countdown begins in the morning as the teams and their beds arrive in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle and are decorated in their very best interpretations of the theme. Here, they are judged for the Best Dressed Bed awards with the winners announced at noon. At 1.00 pm the Parade starts, headed by the bed deemed the best dressed, and accompanied by marching bands and dance groups.



They pass from the Castle to the Market Place, down High Street and Bond End and into Conyngham Hall fields where, at the far end, the decorations are divested and the teams prepare for the Race.

The main event starts at 3.00 pm with teams setting off at 10-second intervals from the grounds of Conyngham Hall to charge around the 2.4-mile course. This takes them through the Conyngham parkland onto Waterside and through the Nidd Gorge, before the steep and lung-bursting ascent up Castle Ings. The teams spin around the Market Place, before hurting down the High Street and Bond End and crossing High Bridge. From there they run through McIntosh Field back to the opposite bank of the river to where they started.

The final act is the 30-yard swim through the invariably icy waters of the River Nidd, teams, passenger, bed and all, before reaching the finish line.

It all adds up to being an exhilarating day, says President of the Knaresborough Lions Martin Brock. “Being Yorkshire, the race is fiercely contested. Each year the faster teams edge out their competitors by seconds and are just minutes quicker than most of the slower teams.


Martin said: Everyone has someone to beat, even if it is themselves by besting their previous years’ time. The winners gain the overall bragging rights but there are plenty of scores to settle through the race field and many teams put their main focus into winning the Best Dressed Bed awards.


Bed Race is charity time

Bed Race is organised by volunteers from the Knaresborough Lions Club and provides a vehicle for money to be raised for charity and good causes. It costs about £26,000 for the event to be staged, which involves road closures, traffic management, crowd barriers, licenses, the printing of the programme, signage, hire of equipment and materials.

The Lions look to cover these costs through sponsorship, team entry fees, sales of the programme, and income from spectators entering Conyngham Hall fields (by programme or £2 per adult). Money raised over and above costs goes to Lions charities, a minimum of 80 per cent of which is donated to local good causes. Teams use the event to raise money for their own charities and other local groups and charities are involved in the day to raise funds.



Apart from the 630 runners and riders of the 90 teams, there are hundreds more paraders, young and old, supporting the teams, as well as dance groups and marching bands. It is believed that another couple of thousand people help in decorating the beds and stitching the costumes. Some 250 volunteers turn out to marshal the event and provide other support to the Knaresborough Lions.


Knaresborough Lion’s organising committee Chairman, Richard Hall said: It is a real community effort to organise and participate in the great Knaresborough Bed Race. It typifies the wonderful spirit in our community and is a massive event for Knaresborough’s town centre businesses.

But the event is also marked by warm and welcoming spectators, volunteer marshals by the hundreds and many others who help make this a wonderful family day for everyone concerned.



First staged in 1966

The first Bed Race was held in 1966 and was fated to be run in stormy weather, which kept spectator numbers down. But the organisers recognised that they were onto a successful idea, which matched perfectly the up-and-down terrain of Knaresborough and the layout of its medieval streets.

By the early 1970s, the idea of adding the extra contest of decorating the beds and the runners had emerged. Difficult weather conditions have recurred over the years but the event has never been cancelled by wind or rain, although the river crossing has been abandoned twice when the water level swelled to dangerous depths. But , come hell or high water, there is always a Bed Race in Knaresborough!

From the early days, teams of US servicemen from Menwith Hill and Germans from Bebra, the Knaresborough twin town, have taken part. This has helped spread the concept of racing beds internationally. There are now scores of bed races in North America, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Australasia, and in 2017 Knaresborough Lions helped a group establish a bed race in Bunbury, Western Australia, who use the event to raise money for local hospitals.


Richard Hall said: We don’t know if bed racing started here but it was in Knaresborough that it took off. Because it has spawned so many other events, it began to be called the Great Knaresborough Bed Race around 20 years ago.

As far as we can see, what we have that others don’t is the spectacular topography of Knaresborough itself: the Gorge, the Castle, the steep ascents, cobbled streets and the River Nidd. The town of Knaresborough is the real hero of Bed Race.

A striking feature of life in Knaresborough in the months leading up to Bed Race day is the sight of teams running through the town in the evenings and at weekends with their beds, preparing for the momentous challenge of Bed Race.

And if you venture down to Conyngham Hall in May you will chance to see a dedicated team or two emerging dripping from the River Nidd after having practiced their technique for the river crossing.



Results from 2016:
Fastest Team Planet Steel
Fastest Female Team Ripon Runners Girls
Fastest Mixed Team Flo-Mon Bandits
Fastest Junior Team Harrogate Rugby Racers
Fastest Junior Mixed Team 1st Scriven Scouts

Best Dressed Bed Hiscox

In addition, a special award for their contribution to Bed Race was presented to St John Fisher’s Catholic School.


Getting to Knaresborough and Road Closures

Free park-and-ride services provided by Transdev will run on Bed Race day between GSPK on Manse Lane, just off the York Road, and the town centre. ALM Manufacturing is managing its own free park-and-ride from their site on Grimbalds Crag Close and will be ferrying people from there to town.

The parking premises will open in the morning and will close at 6 pm in the evening. It is important that people move their cars before 6 pm as the premises will be locked.

Both parking and Park and Ride services are free. Northern Rail has made provision for those arriving by train to ensure that everything contributes to making this a great family day out.

Roads in and around Knaresborough are closed to traffic from the middle of the day until 5.00 pm. The Market and Silver Street are closed from noon, the High Street, Bond End, part of Boroughbridge Road and Harrogate Road are closed from 12.30 pm. There are closures, too, affecting Cheapside, Castlegate, part of Brewerton Street, Fisher Street, Castle Ings and Waterside from Castle Mills to High Bridge.



Race Arena and Field

Spectators coming to Conyngham Hall Field will be able to watch events unfold on an 18-metre Big Screen, designed to operate come rain or shine – the Lions hope for more of the latter. There will be two or three roaming cameras recoding the best of the Parade and the Race, while feeding live footage of the teams swimming the river to the Big Screen.


Lions President Martin Brock, said: There is much that people want to see at Bed Race and it is difficult to enjoy vantage points where you can get a good overall view of the action.

By locating the screen in Conyngham Hall field thousands of people will be able to see what is happening and will get a close-up view of what is perhaps the most stunning part of Bed Race, the river crossing, she commented.


There will be bars and catering, rides for kids and stalls manned by local charity groups at Conyngham Hall. Entrance to Conyngham Hall fields is by Programme or £2 per adult; children under sixteen enter free.

Further details are available on


  1. Ripon Runners Men MfC
  2. GH Brooks Mf
  3. Nidd Valley Men’s A Team MfC
  4. Knaresborough Striders Men MfC
  5. Guardian Alarms Mf
  6. Nidd Valley Men’s B Team MfC
  7. Flying Pullman XfC
  8. Knaresborough Rugby Club Mf
  9. Welly Wheelers Mf
  10. The Half Moon Mf
  11. Stephenson’s Rockets Mf
  12. Flying Mechanics Mf
  13. Six Pack MfC
  14. Blue Bullet Flyers MfC
  15. Harrogate Rugby Racers JMf
  16. Ripon Runners Girls FfC
  17. JP’s Disciples of Fitness Xf
  18. The Plodders Mf
  19. Pelsis Flyers Mf
  20. St John Fishers Mf
  21. Round Table 1 Mf
  22. Welly Wheeners Xf
  23. Mott MacDonald Leeds Mf
  24. The Hairy Fairies Mf
  25. The Deer Hunters Mf
  26. Parkrunners Xf
  27. Green-Tech Ltd Mf
  28. RAF Menwith Hill Me
  29. P&G Team 1 Xf
  30. The Swiss Rolls Xf
  31. Welly Wheelettes Ff
  32. Meadowside Malingerers Me
  33. CBRE Me
  34. St John’s Juggernauts Mf
  35. Round Table 2 Me
  36. The Rocket Men Mf
  37. Commercial Estates Group Mf
  38. HACS 1 Me
  39. HACS 2 Me
  40. Bed Zeppelin Mf
  41. Clarity Clodhoppers Xf
  42. Pretty Paws Xe
  43. Techbuyer Ltd Mf
  44. Nidd Valley Ladies Team FfC
  45. Knaresborough Striders Ladies FfC
  46. Raworths Solicitors Xe
  47. Y-Not Ambulance Boys Me
  48. Turners Tearaways Me
  49. The Dazzling Bobbies Me
  50. Knaresborough Silver Band Me
  51. Aspin Avengers Me
  52. Taylors of Harrogate Me
  53. SESKU Little Un Me
  54. Sentinel Sprinters Me
  55. CNG Xe
  56. Scotton Scorchers Jfe
  57. Stray Savers Xe
  58. Skylarks Ff
  59. High Street Heroes Xe
  60. Piccadilly Fillies Ff
  61. Rabbit Hill Country Store Ff
  62. 6th Gear Xe
  63. St Johns PTA ‘B’ Team Xe
  64. Welly Wheelies JXf
  65. Harrogate Theatre Xe
  66. Pelsis Rat Racers Xe
  67. Oatlands Infants Mixed Xe
  68. Mums On The Run Fe
  69. Piston Broke Xe
  70. Mowbray Magic Xe
  71. Meadowside Maidens Fe
  72. Ripley Castle Xe
  73. Harrison Spinks Xe
  74. Knaresborough Strollers Xe
  75. Team Sanderson Xe
  76. Team Red Beer Xe
  77. Bedknobs & Broomsticks Me
  78. Speedy Girlzales Fe
  79. Tomrods Are Go! Fe
  80. Tewit Youth Band JMe
  81. 1st Knaresborough Scouts JXf
  82. 1st Scriven Scouts JXe
  83. Saint Michael’s Hospice Staff Fe
  84. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People Fe
  85. King James’s Female Junior sp’ by CNG JFe
  86. Aspin Park Primary School PTA Fe
  87. Rainbow Runners Fe
  88. Bedraggled Fe

CATEGORIES ARE: Mf male fast; Ff female fast; Xf mixed fast; JMf junior male fast; Me male entertaining; Fe female entertaining; Xe mixed entertaining; JX junior mixed.

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