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National Speech and Debate Tournament coming to Richmond in 2026

The Richmond Forum announced 2026 tournament as well as goal to expand Speech and Debate across Richmond Region public schools

RICtoday_SpeechDebateTournament_RichmondForum

The tournament was announced at a press conference on Monday, Nov. 20.

Photo by RICtoday

Richmond will host the 2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament — an event which will bring ~10,000 students and visitors to the River City.

The tournament was unveiled at a press conference on Monday, Nov. 20. The Richmond Forum and Richmond Region Tourism made the announcement alongside Mayor Levar Stoney and representatives from Chesterfield and Henrico Counties.

Richmond Forum has run its Speech & Debate Initiative since 2018. Bringing the national tournament to Richmond has been a goal for several years. In the five years since its founding, Richmond Forum has helped 1200+ kids get involved in debate. By 2025, it wants to reach every public middle and high school in Henrico, Chesterfield, and Richmond.

National Tournament Director Scott Wunn also expressed excitement that the tournament will take place during the United States’ 250th anniversary. He said the semiquincentennial theme will continue throughout the tournament, teasing possible partnerships with local history museums and organizations.