The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is back this Saturday (11th June) after two years of cancellations due to covid.

The theme this year is ‘The Environment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ and the event is expected to attract between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors.

The event was first held in 1966 but, as regular attendees of the Bed Race will know, the day doesn’t just start and finish with the race itself!

So as participants and spectators get ready to hit the streets and parks of Knaresborough, here’s everything you need to know about the Great Knaresborough Bed Race 2022…

What is the Great Knaresborough Bed Race?

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2018.

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is a part-fancy dress pageant and part-gruelling time trial over a 2.4 mile course, ending with a swim through the icy waters of the River Nidd.

Teams take to the streets of Knaresborough to parade and then race their decorated beds through the town.

The first Bed Race was held in 1966 and, despite the stormy weather, organisers recognised that they were onto a successful idea.

By the early 1970s, the idea of adding the extra competitive element of decorating the beds and the runners had emerged.

The event has been a roaring success and has taken place every year since – leaving aside the two cancellations due to covid.

Who has organised it?

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2018.

The Bed Race is organised by Knaresborough Lions, who this year are looking to reinforce an environmental message.

Teams are being asked to use recyclable and reusable materials in building their floats for the Parade, whilst helpers are being asked to help clean up and reduce waste to a minimum.

The Lions are also planning to plant 100 young trees in Horseshow Field on the opposite side of the river to where Bed Race starts and finishes.

Bed Race Day

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2017.

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race will take place on Saturday (11th June 2022) – the second Saturday of the month as per every year.

Bed Race day will begin from 10am at Knaresborough Castle, where teams and their beds gather in their full fancy dress to be judged for the Best Dressed Bed accolades. Winners will then be announced at noon.

Headed by the overall champion, the teams then Parade in all their finery from the Castle via the High Street to Conyngham Hall field, setting off at 1pm.

At Conyngham, the fancy dress and bed decorations will be ruthlessly discarded to be recycled for all sorts of uses, including future Bed Races. The beds are stripped to racing trim for the race itself, which starts at 3pm. There will be 85 teams of six runners and a passenger.

It’s a whole day spectacle starting around 10am and running to the evening. Roads will be closed in central Knaresborough, reopening around 6pm it is hoped.

The race itself is run as time trails with each team going off at intervals of a few seconds. As always, the fastest go first.

The course is over 2.4 miles and takes in parkland, the glories of Waterside, through the Nidd Gorge, up the almost sheer Castle Ings, through the cobbled street of the town, down Bond End to High Bridge, through McIntosh Park, and finishes with a 40-yard swim through the River Nidd.

The fastest complete the course in under 14 minutes, the slowest in little more than twice that time.


The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2015.

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 £30,000 for the event to be staged, which involves road closures, traffic management, crowd barriers, licenses, printing, signage, hire of equipment and materials.

Lions look to cover these costs through sponsorship, advertising in and sale of a printed event Programme, team entry fees, and income from spectators entering Conyngham Hall fields, plus other charitable contributions.

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 also use the event to raise money for their own charities. Local groups assist with marshalling from which they receive a stipend, and run stalls at the event to raise funds.  

Getting to Knaresborough and Road Closures

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2016.

Free park-and-ride services provided by Transdev will run on the day of Bed Race between Knaresborough Technology Park on Manse Lane and just around the corner at ALM Manufacturing on Grimbald Crag Close.  

The parking premises will open in the morning and will close at 6:30pm in the evening. It is important that people move their cars before this time as the premises will be locked. Like the bus service, parking is free.

Roads in and around Knaresborough are closed to traffic from the middle of the day until around 6pm.

The Market, Castlegate and Silver Street, are closed from 10:30am, and the main roads of the High Street, Bond End, part of Boroughbridge Road and Harrogate Road from noon.

There are closures, too, affecting Cheapside, Castlegate, part of Brewerton Street, Fisher Street, High Bond End, Castle Ings and Waterside from Castle Mills to High Bridge.

Race Arena and Field

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race in 2016.

Spectators going to Conyngham Hall Field will be able to watch events unfold on an 18-metre Big Screen, designed to operate come rain or shine.

There will be two or three roaming cameras recording the best of the Parade and the Race, while feeding live footage of the teams swimming the river to the Big Screen. 

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 £3 per adult; kids under 16 enter free.

Further details about the Great Knaresborough Bed Race 2022 are available on

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