2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament
Nationals are Coming to Richmond!
The National Speech & Debate Association has selected the Richmond region as the host of its 2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament, an event that is expected to attract 10,000 student contestants and visitors to the area. To be held June 14-19, 2026, this competition is one of the largest academic events in the country.
Richmond Region Tourism and The Richmond Forum have been working to enhance interest in Richmond as a tournament host for more than three years.
Over the past five years, the Richmond Forum Speech & Debate Initiative has engaged more than 1,000 students in speech and debate in the Richmond Region, growing from nine teams to 28 with 43 coaches. Last year’s regional tournament circuit attracted 750 student contestants.
The tournament will involve 7,000 competitors and take place in some 750 classrooms across six schools in the region. Several thousand local volunteers are needed to ensure the National Tournament runs smoothly. If you would like to be informed of volunteer opportunities as 2026 approaches, please fill out the form below.
“The Richmond Forum’s Speech & Debate Initiative has been cultivating new generations of students and teacher-coaches who are demonstrating tremendous interest in the critical thinking and communications skills speech and debate fosters. Attracting this prestigious tournament to Richmond is a crowning achievement for all of us. We look forward to hosting teams from throughout America, especially at a time when we are celebrating a milestone birthday for our nation.”Heather Mullins Crislip, Executive Director of The Richmond Forum
Director of Communications
Director of Student Programs
Lucretia M. Anderson
Speech & Debate Initiative Manager