101. Charity Duck Races

Hundreds of yellow ducks stream down the River Coln for the annual Bibury Duck Race, held every Boxing Day.
Decoy ducks floating down the river in the first charity race which precedes "the big one".
The Cotswolds has gained a growing reputation for staging spectacular charity duck races in recent years.

For decades, each Boxing Day the picturesque village of Bibury has attracted hundreds of spectators from near and far who gather along the River Coln to watch the annual duck race.

In South Cerney, a charity duck race forms an integral part of the village's Street Fair which takes place over the late May Bank Holiday.

2014 saw the first Lechlade Duck Race, held on the early May Bank Holiday Monday, which proved a massive success and is being repeated in 2015.

The Bibury Duck Race, organised by the village cricketThe scene at Lechlade-on-Thames in 2014 as crowds gathered for the inaugural Lechlade Duck Race. Picture Crown Copyright. club, sees thousands of plastic ducks released to race down the river Coln in a unique spectacle comprising of two races.

The first race sees 150 decoy ducks float down the river, which as well as being a great spot of festive fun, can raise thousands of pounds for charity, as spectators can sponsor a duck for £10 each. The person whose duck crosses the finish line first gets to nominate which charity they would like all of the day’s proceeds to go to.

The second race involves more than 2,000 yellow plastic ducks being unleashed upon the river, with spectators being able to sponsor these for just £1 each, with prizes guaranteed for the first 20 ducks and the final duck to cross the finish line. Past prizes have included an oven-ready duck.

Bob the mascot attracted plenty of young fans at the Lechlade Duck Race. Picture © Mouse About TownRace organiser Steve Turner said: “Every year Bibury comes to a standstill and it is just so busy. People like to get out and about after Christmas Day and the race is a popular place to be.”

The Lechlade Duck Race, organised by Alisdair Hedworth, is a free, family-friendly charity event.

The 2015 event was held on Monday, May 4, on the banks of the River Thames at Riverside Park in Lechlade.

The inaugural 2014 Lechlade Duck Race exceeded all expectations, attracting more than 5,000 spectators and raising £16,500 for charity.

Alisdair said: "We had planned for about 2,000 people and in the end we were completely overrun, but in a good way." 

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE started the countdown to the race. 

Children inspect some of the 6,000 ducks taking part in the Lechlade Duck Race. Picture © Mouse About Town
Olympic rowing champion Sir Matthew Pinsent with Trinity Bunn, owner of the winning duck at the 2014 Lechlade Duck Race. Picture Crown Copyright.
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.