THIS year’s Bradford Dragonboat Festival could have an international flavour, as a team from Southeast Asia could be signing up to take part.

Places for the three-day event are being snapped up quickly, with places on the Sunday now already fully sold out, and more than half of places on the Saturday taken.

Registration for the Friday schools event also opened last Monday, with primary and secondary schools from Bradford and the rest of the country being urged to sign up.

One team from outside the UK has enquired about entering, and could be travelling all the way from Bangladesh to take part.

The 2019 festival, which once again will be held at Roberts Park in Saltaire, will run from Friday, June 21, to Sunday 23.

The Friday, as in 2018, will be the Schools Championship, followed by the main event of the the Lord Mayor’s Championship on Saturday, and closing with the Multi-Charity Championship on the Sunday.

Thousands of people descended on Saltaire last year to watch, with almost 100 teams and around 2,000 people taking part in the event.

Places for the Multi-Charity day were quick to sell out, and spots for the Lord Mayor’s Championship are currently 54 per cent full.

Razwana Mahmood, one of the festival organisers, said: “The international team are from Bangladesh and are called the Bangladesh Dragoners.

“They are not professional but have previously raced at international festivals.

“They are trying to sort out visas, and always manage to raise funds to cover their costs.

“We put them in touch with the Bangladeshi community in Bradford as we thought perhaps they might be able to help them with their accommodation, such as placing them with families.

“We’ve not had a booking specifically from them yet, however, as they do each year, members of the Bangladeshi community do have a boat in the festival; Team BEAP.

“It shows the reputation we are getting at international level and why it is important for people to book quickly if they want to secure a place.

“We welcome people of all experience and backgrounds as it enriches and develops our local teams too but this also gives us international exposure for all the right reasons.

“I do hope that they are successful in completing all the relevant documentation and follow through by attending. I’m sure that we will, as always, extend the best Bradfordian welcome to them.”

As well as possibly having the Bangladesh Dragoners taking part, organisers of the festival are also hopeful the Great Britain Under 18s Dragonboat Teams will return to the festival, after putting on an exhibition in dragonboat racing last year.

Organisers also confirmed a team including Bradford-born news presenter Harry Gration will be taking part in the race.

This year, the festival is being held in aid of Bradford Nightstop and the Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, the two charities chosen to benefit from the Lord Mayor’s Appeal by the current Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Zafar Ali.

Last year teams raised £60,000 for the Lord Mayor’s and their own chosen charities, a record amount for the festival.

To register your team to take part in this year’s festival, visit