Pigeon racing is a sport in which specially bred and trained birds are released from specific locations. They then race back to their home lofts.

The Queen is patron of pigeon racing organisations the Royal Pigeon Racing Association and the National Flying Club.

Athletes of the sky is a common phrase among The Fancy (pigeon enthusiasts) – and justified when the complexity of pigeon racing is explained:  it’s a serious combination of discipline, skill and patience.

But you don’t need to have a loft in your back garden to take part: there are two types of pigeon racing:

shorter distance, weekly club racing involving keeping your own birds and entering them into races during the racing season, which runs from April to September. Find out more by contacting your {map}regional pigeon racing union{/}.  The excitement of seeing their birds return from their races never leaves pigeon fanciers – perhaps explaining why the majority of racing enthusiasts in the UK prefer to enter their birds in the smaller club competitions.

longer distance, one loft racing – no need to have your own pigeon loft as your young birds will be kept, looked after and trained elsewhere. They would live in a much larger scale pigeon loft, maintained by an experienced loft manager responsible for the welfare and training of the birds. When race-ready they will be entered into heats and finally, the end-of-season one loft race, with a typical first prize of £20,000. Find out more about the Royal Pigeon Racing Association’s annual one loft race.