Between cheese rolling in Gloucestershire, coal carrying in West Yorkshire, and toe wrestling in Derbyshire, the UK is no stranger to weird and wonderful traditions. But one North Yorkshire town is home to one of the most peculiar traditions of all: bed racing!
Every year on the second Saturday in June, the small town of Knaresborough sees 90 teams put on themed fancy dress and parade a decorated bed through the town, before running around a 2.4 mile course that winds up and down the cobbled streets, around a market square, and across parkland, and is almost unchanged since the event started in 1966. The Great Knaresborough Bed Race has gone ahead every year come hell or high water — literally, since part of the course also involves crossing an icy and fast-flowing river! The event attracts visitors from far and wide, with the streets lined with an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 cheering supporters. It also raises a lot of money for charity — approximately £100,000 in total across the lifetime of the event!
This year the theme of the Bed Race was children’s film and TV characters. The winners, the Harrogate Harriers, completed the course in under 13 minutes!
We personally prefer our beds for sleeping in, and ideally on dry land, but the Bed Race is clearly a tradition the Knaresborough locals are proud of, and one that’s sparked off similar events elsewhere in the UK and worldwide. And with next year marking half a century of races, it's sure to be one of the best yet!