Bedford’s first ‘oar-some’ Dragon Boat Festival roars into town this June

The dragon's head with a silver ball in its mouth on a dragon boat
Image: Sue Ryder

Paddles at the ready, Bedford, as our first Dragon Boat Festival will take place this June, hoping to make a big splash for a local hospice charity.

Local businesses and community groups are being asked to ‘paddle up’ this June in aid of Sue Ryder, which provides expert palliative care and bereavement support to local families from its St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger.

Teams of up to 15 people are being invited to take to the water on Sunday 25 June and battle it out to raise vital funds for the charity. No previous experience is required, just plenty of team spirit.

You can sign up to take part here.

In brightly coloured boats, complete with carved dragon’s heads and traditional drums, competitors will paddle their way along the 200-metre course to reach the golden finish line at Bedford Suspension Bridge, cheered along the embankment by crowds of supporters and spectators.  

And it’s not just about the winning. Although there will be coveted trophies for the overall winner and the best-placed mixed crew, there are also trophies for the best dressed and for the top fundraisers.

A team of rowers in a Dragon Boat
Does your business or organisation have what it takes to win the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival? Image: Sue Ryder

The ‘oar-some’ dragon boat race will run alongside this year’s annual Kite and Motoring Festival, a free event taking place in Russell Park and along the Embankment, which also includes a wide range of entertainment, food stalls and activities for all the family.  

Ali McDougall, part of the Bedford-based team from Green Light Consultancy Group Limited who have signed up for this year’s festival, said: “We started supporting Sue Ryder at the start of the year and the dragon boat race was an event that I straight away thought we should get involved in.

“It’s a great way to bring the team together to have a bit of fun outside of the office, while helping to raise vital funds for such an incredible cause.  We are really looking forward to the race – a first for many of our crew – and would really encourage other businesses to get on board!” 

Nick Burr, Senior Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice added: “We are so excited to be hosting our first charity dragon boat festival in Bedford.

“The festival is a great opportunity to bring your colleagues or fellow community group members together for a fun team-building activity.

“You don’t need to have any experience to take part, just plenty of team spirit! We can’t wait to see you on the water and look forward to cheering you on to the finish line!” 

Find out more about the Bedford Dragon Boat Festival and sign up online at

For information about Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, visit or email   

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