Festive Swim List 2022

The most free fun you can have over Christmas

Christmas Eve swim at The Cove, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Ireland.

They’re back! After two years with a lot of festive swims cancelled because of Covid, dippers are going to be out in force this Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year. To help you celebrate, we’ve compiled a new list of festive swims around the country. Many of these swims have been going for 30, 40, even 100 years – but this year, with so many wild swimming groups booming, you might even find one closer to home. Say hello to Christmas with a buzz and a sense of achievement.

In the past a Christmas Day swim or New Year’s ‘loony dook’ might be the only time someone would get in the water outside of summer. Now, so many of us are enjoying dips year round the landscape has changed. While most of the traditional swims on this list started as a seemingly crazy bet or dare, but have been kept alive for 30, 40 or even 100+ years (we’ve published lists of these for over a decade) this year there is something new: we’ve reached out to wild swimming groups to ask if they are also holding new festive swims that members of the public can get involved with.

The response has been overwhelming and heartwarming. Many groups replied offering details of their swims, inviting anyone who’d like to join them into the fold. You’ll find these dips included below. After years of uncertainty and cancelled festive swims due to the threat of Covid-19, what joy to be able to enter the water collectively. Here’s to finding a seasonal dip near you and enjoying the water safely.

A WORD ON LOGISTICS: some of these swims are traditional with no fixed organiser (they just always happen at 11am on Christmas Day for example), most have moved to light organisation (pre online registration and a fee, which variously goes to charity, safety cover and insurance), and one or two are run like paid open water events. Please tread lightly and give generously! Take responsibility for your own health and your own safety (read Festive Swims Dos and Don’ts), read up on the organisers’ advice in advance (including instructions on parking), and help preserve them for the future – these are wonderful events and we are anticipating a huge upswing in attendance.

DID WE MISS ONE? Please send additions and corrections to Emma Dodd.

England

South West

The South West is like the Wild West when it comes to festive swims – we think there are another 10+ which are traditionally held in Devon and Cornwall which are likely to run this year too, but they are not traceable online (as they communal uprisings, with no one person the organiser). However if you live locally you might find the following: On Christmas Day: Falmouth, Coverack, St Agnes, Polzeath, Sennen, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton. On Boxing Day: Poldu,  Charleston, Paignton, Teignmouth, Torquay. New Year: Newquay.

Boscombe Macmillan White Christmas Dip

Location – Right of Boscombe Pier
Time and date – 10.30am on December 25th
Price – £5
Description – Dippers must be registered by December 23rd. The organisers promise pre-dip fun on the beach to warm participants up
More info

Bude Surf Life Saving Club Christmas Day Swim

Location – Crooklets Beach
Time and date – Arrival at 10.30am; warm up at 10.45am; swim at 11am
Price – £10
Description – Around 600 swimmers are expected and thousands of spectators
More info

Lyme Regis New Year’s Day Swim

Location – Sandy Beach
Time and date – 1pm on January 1st
Price – Donation to charity
Description – Fancy dress is encouraged. The Harbour Inn will be providing hot soup to all swimmers
More info

Paignton Lions Club Boxing Day Walk into the Sea

Location – Paignton Seafront Beach
Time and date – 12 noon on December 26th
Price – £10 for adults; £5 for under-16s
Description – Fancy dress is optional
More info

St Ives Boxing Day Charity Dip

Location – Porthminster Beach
Time and date – 12 noon on Boxing Day
Price – £1 charity donation
Description – Everybody welcome, including the dog!
More info

Teignmouth RNLI Festive Walk in The Sea

Location – Teignmouth Pier
Time and date – Registration from 10am; warm up at 10.50am; swim at 11am on December 26th
Price – Suggested donation of £5
Description – A fancy dress competition will include child, adult and team categories
More info

Weymouth Lions Christmas Day Harbour Swim

Location – Weymouth Harbour
Time and date – 11am on December 25th
Price – £12
Description – It’s said this swim dates back to 1948 when two friends – a local publican and a taxi driver – made a bet to see who could swim across the harbour on Christmas Day. Swimmers are split into groups of around 30 to complete the distance of more than 70 metres from the Cove on Trinity Road to the Harbour Master’s office on Custom House Quay.
More info

Rewind Swim Club Winter Solstice Swim

Location – Elmore Court Estate, Madams Lake
Time and date – 9.15am and 1.30pm on December 21st
Price – £15
Description – Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a dip, followed by mince pies and hot chocolate around the fire
More info

Lake 32 Boxing Day Swim

Location – Lake 32, Cirencester
Time and date – 10am on December 26th
Price – £10
Description – Admission includes a hot drink to warm up after the swim
More info

Hele Bay Merbabes New Year’s Swim

Location – Help Bay, North Devon
Time and date – 10am on January 1st
Price – Free
Description – Welcome to all, regardless of gender
More info

The Adventure Girls Club Boxing Day Swim

Location – Clevedon Marine Lake
Time and date – 3pm on December 26th
Price – Free
Description – Soak up the view of Wales from the infinity pool on Boxing Day
More info

Santa swimmers with the Outdoor Swimming Society banner Santa swimmers with the Outdoor Swimming Society banner

London and the South East

London does not have any festive swims open to the public that we know of.  Only Serpentine Swimming Club members on the club’s handicap list can take part in the festive swim that happens there, but while there aren’t places holding festive swims per se in the capital, we anticipate more lidos will be open than before. See the Winter Lido List for contacts.

Deal Rotary Icebreakers Boxing Day Dip

Location – North side of Deal Pier
Time and date – 11am on December 26th
Price – Advance registration is £7 before December 22nd; on the day costs £10
Description – This swim has raised more than £75,000 for good causes since its inception in 1981. Festive fancy dress is encouraged. The Grinch has been known to put in an appearance in the past
More info

Folkestone Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

Location – Sunny Sands Beach; registration at the Mariners Pub
Time and date – Registration from 9.30am; fancy dress judging at 10.45am; swim at 11am on Boxing Day
Price – Sponsorship
Description – This is a very generous dip as every swimmer gets a medal for taking the plunge. Prizes are awarded for best oldest, youngest, solo and group categories in the fancy dress competition, and there’s for the most money raised solo and in a group
More info

Ventnor Isle of Wight Boxing Day Swim

Location – Ventnor Esplanade
Time and date – 12 noon on December 26th
Price – Collection buckets for charity
Description – This swim tradition began in 1980 and encourages fancy dress
More info

Swimble Shenanigans Festive Swims

Location – Hayling Island
Time and date – 7.30am on December 25th; 8.30am on December 26th; 9.30am on January 1st
Price – Free, but you can buy a bespoke badge for each event at £5
Description – The dress code is Christmas hats on Christmas Day; old swim fashions on Boxing Day; optional fancy dress on New Year’s Day
More info

Festive Jubilee River Dip

Location – Small tree at Marsh Lane Car Park, Taplow, Maidenhead
Time and date – 11.30am on December 24th
Price – Free
Description – Santa hats are encouraged, while mince pies and other festive treats will be provided
More info

Crowds heading into the sea at Cromer Crowds heading into the sea at Cromer

East of England

North Norfolk Beach Runners Boxing Day Dip

Location – Cromer Pier, Norfolk
Time and date – 11.30am on December 26th
Price – Free to enter, but there will be a collection for this year’s charity, Sarcoma UK
Description – A pre-swim fun run starts at 10.30am, followed by the sea swim at 11.30am
More info

Felixstowe Christmas Day Dip

Location – Felixstowe seafront, opposite Mannings Amusements on Sea Road
Time and date – December 25th from 8.30am. Dipping at 10am
Price – £13 up until December 22nd. £20 on the day. Proceeds to St Elizabeth Hospice
Description – Join around 600 people in the sea on Christmas Day for the 18th edition of this dip in aid of hospice. Friends and family are encouraged to come and cheer you on
More info

Hunstanton Round Table Christmas Day Swim

Location – Register outside Alive Oasis on the Promenade, Hunstanton
Time and date – Registration from 10am to 10.30am; fancy dress judging at 10.50am; swim at 11am; free hot soup for swimmers at 11.15am; and certificates available from 11.30am
Price – Sponsorship
Description – Prizes for best solo fancy dress and best group fancy dress will be awarded. Swim shoes are required and under-18s must be accompanied by an adult.
More info

Lowestoft Christmas Day Swim

Location – East Point Pavilion
Time and date – Registration from 8.30am; swim at 10am on December 25th
Price – Minimum £5 donation. All money goes to charity
Description – This is the 43rd edition of the swim, which has seen more than £10,000 raised for charity in previous years. Fancy dress is welcomed.
More info

Southend RNLI New Year’s Day Dip

Location – Jubilee Beach, Marine Parade, Southend on Sea
Time and date – Sign in from 10.45am; swim at 11.30am
Price – £25 on the day (advanced registration has now closed). All proceeds go to the RNLI
Description – Swimmers are invited to brave the 5 to 6°C waters of Southend for the sixth edition of the event.
More info

Southwold Christmas Day Sea Swim

Location – Southwold seafront
Time and date – 10.30am on December 25th
Price – £10
Description – In aid of the RNLI and fancy dress is encouraged
More info

Beccles Lido Chill Swims

Location – Beccles Lido
Time and date – Sessions on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Price – £6
Description – Lido swims in 12-15 degrees C water
More info

Christmas Eve swim at The Cove, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Ireland Christmas Eve swim at The Cove, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Midlands

Matlock Bath Lido Christmas Day Swim

Location – Matlock Bath Lido, New Bath Road
Time and date – Swim slots from 9am until 12 noon
Price – £10
Description – Members and the public can book slots to swim at the lido on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
More info

Maplethorpe New Year’s Big Dip

Location – Details are hidden until registration!
Time and date – New Year’s Day (contact the organisers for the time at registration)
Price – Options include a registration fee – £25 for an individual; £40 for a couple; a group discount for four or more persons; or via sponsorship for the Poppy Appeal
Description – A charity event in aid of the Poppy Appeal, run by Flanders Friends who support the Armed Forces and local community. Start early – they are sending out registration packs and paperwork.
More info

Yorkshire and the Humber

Knaresborough Swimmers Group Christmas Day Swim

Location – Knaresborough Lido
Time and date – 11am on December 25th
Price – Free
Description – Don’t be fooled by the name of the location; this isn’t a pool swim. Knaresborough Lido is a short stretch of the River Nidd
More info

Wild and Dipsy Dippers Festive Ladies-only Swim

Location – Burnsall, North Yorkshire
Time and date – 9.30am on December 26th
Price – Free
Description – Christmas themed hats or fancy dress are mandatory
More info – Just show up

North West

Salford New Year’s Day Charity Swim

Location – Dock 9, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays
Time and date – Registration is from 10.15am on January 1st. Swimmers enter the water at 15-minute intervals between 11am and 11.45am. This waves are based on the surnames of participants. A-D; 11.00am; E-H; 11.15am; I-R; 11.30am; S -Z; 11.45am
Price – Adults: £25; under-16s: £5
Description – There are two courses available for this swim: a 250-metre course for competent swimmers with tow floats and a 100-metre course for those without. Wetsuit swimmers, skin swimmers and those in fancy dress allowed. There’ll be a competition for the best hat, so get creative
More info

Alderford Lake Solstice Sunrise Swim

Location – Alderford Lake in Whitchurch
Time and date – 7.30am on December 21st for sunrise at 8.22am
Price – £11
Description – Pre-booking is essential. Tow floats are mandatory and the organisers recommend putting fairy lights inside them
More info

Openswim Charity Boxing Day Dip

Location – Sale Water Park
Time and date – 12 noon on December 26th
Price – £20, with 20 per cent of the proceeds going to Manchester Mind
Description – Entry fee includes a hearty vegan lunch and homemade cakes
More info

South Lakes Swimming Club Festive Dips

Location – Windermere
Time and date – 9am on December 24th and December 31st
Price – £6
Description – A great opportunity to swim in a small, calm and friendly group. Swimmers must be fully acclimatised to cold water
More info

North East

Cullercoats Mental Health Swims December Dip

Location – Cullercoats Bay
Time and date – 9am on December 4th
Price – Free but a donation to MHS is welcomed. Booking essential
Description – Part of the inclusive Mental Health Swims community. Look for the large pink pirate flag on arrival
More info

Mental Health Swims Tynemouth Christmas Eve Dip

Location – King Edward’s Bay, Tynemouth
Time and date – 11.30am on December 24th
Price – Suggested donation £1
Description – This is the group’s first ever festive swim. Mince pies and hot drinks will be served on the beach post-swim if the weather allows
More info

Hartlepool Round Table Boxing Day Dip

Location – The Marine Hotel, Seaton Carew
Time and date – Registration from 10am; swim at 11.30am on December 26th
Price – £5
Description – There’s a pre-swim parade and fancy dress is optional
More info

Redcar Rotary Club Boxing Day Dip

Location – Lifeboat Slipway, Redcar
Time and date – Registration from 10.15am; swim at 11am
Price – £10 plus sponsorship
Description – Now in its 53rd year, this annual swim sees hundreds of people join in and raise money for good causes
More info

Lions Club of Sunderland Boxing Day Dip

Location – Stack Seabrun
Time and date – 10am on December 26th
Price – £10
Description – Returning after a break due to Covid restrictions, this swim is expected to attract hundreds of participants, most of whom will be in fancy dress
More info

Whitby Lions Boxing Day Dip

Location – Whitby Bandstand, Pier Road
Time and date – Sign in at 10am; fancy dress judging at 10.30am; swim straight after judging
Price – £10
Description – Fancy dress is at the heart of this swim and prizes will be awarded in wide range of categories: adult female, adult male, female under-16, male under-16 and team
More info

Little Haven Boxing Day Dip

Location – Little Haven Beach, South Shields
Time and date – 11am on December 26th
Price – Donations to Cancer Connections
Description – Register in advance
More info

Guernsey

St Peter Port Polar Bear Swim

Location – La Vallette Bathing Pools
Time and date – 9.30am on December 25th
Price – Free
Description – Guernsey Swimming Club has held its Polar Bear Swim on Christmas Day for more than 50 years
More info

Cobo Bay Boxing Day Dip

Location – Cobo Bay
Time and date – 11am on December 26th
Price – Donations to Guernsey Cheshire Home
Description – This year’s drop will be the 22nd edition of the event
More info

Crowds entering the sea in Whitby Crowds entering the sea in Whitby

Scotland

Broughty Ferry YeAABA New Year’s Day Dook

Location – Broughty Ferry Harbour
Time and date – 12 noon on January 1st
Price – £15 for adults; £10 for juniors
Description – There’s some concern that the dook, which is organised by the wonderfully named Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association, has been forgotten in the wake of the pandemic. The tradition of jumping into the Tay to welcome in the New Year dates back 140 years
More info

Burghead Boxing Day Swim

Location – Harbour Office, Burghead
Time and date – 2.30pm on December 26th
Price – Sponsorship, with proceeds going to a selection of local charities
Description – This swim has been going for more than 30 years
More info

Portobello Dook

Location – Portobello Beach, meet at the foot of Bath Street
Time and date – 1pm on January 1st
Price – Free
Description – With the cancellation of the Loony Dook at South Queensferry for 2023, it’s expected that the Porty Dook will be busier than ever this year. It’s an informal affair and lots of participants will be clad in fancy dress
More info

Helensburgh New Year Swim

Location – Rhu Marina
Time and date – 12 noon on January 1st
Price – Donations to the RNLI
Description – After a hiatus of two years, this popular swim is back for 2023
More info

Mental Health Swims Loch Lomond Santa Hat Swim

Location – Tarbet Slipway by Loch Lomondside
Time and date – 11am on December 17th
Price – Free, but contributions to Mental Health Swims welcomed
Description – Santa hats are encouraged, as well as any other fancy dress. There will be plenty of mince pies
More info

Mad Piranhas Santa Hat Swim

Location – Portobello Beach, outside Crumbs
Time and date – 7.30am for 8.30am swim on December 11th
Price – Free
Description – Santa hats optional
More info

Mad Piranhas Loony Dook

Location – Luss Lier, Loch Lomond
Time and date – 10am on January 1st
Price – Free
Description – Start the New Year the right way with this inclusive group of swimmers
More info

Wardie Wild Ones

Location – Wardie Bay
Time and date – 10am on December 18th
Price – Free, although funds welcome for St Columba’s Hospice
Description – Expect a bake sale, bagpipes and a raffle
More info

Photo by Anna Deacon Wardie Wild Ones

Wales

A bit like the South West, we think that in addition to the swims listed below swimmers may find traditional swims not listed online but happening locally (because they are communal traditions, not organised happenings with anyone at the helm). These may include a Boxing Day swim at Pembrey Park and on New Years Day swims at Porthmawr (look up St Davids Penknife Club), Abersock, Porthdinllaen and Barry Island.

Ponty Lido at Pontypridd opens for Boxing Day and New Years Day swims, but book ahead.

Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

Location – Llandudno Beach
Time and date – Registration from 10am; swim at 11.30am on December 26th
Price – Free, but sponsorship encouraged
Description – This swim has been running for more than 25 years. Each participant will receive a memento of the event and there will be prizes for the best fancy dress
More info

Porthcawl Christmas Morning Swim

Location – The Hi-Tide Inn, Porthcawl
Time and date – Time is TBC, but will be based on the tide, although the event will certainly be held on December 25th
Price – Free, but fundraising is encouraged
Description – This year there will be no registration on the day, so participants must sign up in advance. A free mug will be given to all swimmers
More info

Rhyl Boxing Day Dip

Location – Rhyl Lifeboat Station
Time and date – Registration from 9am; swim at 10am
Price – Suggested donation £5, with proceeds going to the RNLI
Description – Prize for the best fancy dress
More info

Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim

Location – North Beach, Saundersfoot
Time and date – 12 noon on January 1st
Price – Donations to charity
Description – Back for its 50th anniversary after two years off for Covid-19
More info

Tenby Boxing Day Swim

Location – North Beach, Tenby
Time and date – From 11am; swim at 11.30am on December 26th
Price – Swimmers are encouraged to raise money for charity
Description – It’s the golden anniversary for this legendary swim, where fancy dress is very much encouraged. The Mayor of Tenby will be handing out commemorative gold medals to mark the historic occasion. Despite being named as one of Britain’s top ten barmiest winter dips, it’s unlikely the water will actually be warm
More info

Dawnstalkers Boxing Day Swim

Location – Penarth Seafront
Time and date – Just before dawn, which will be at 8.43am on December 26th
Price – “The sea is free!”
Description – Grab your Christmas hat and head to the seafront
More info

Keepers Pond Bluetits Christmas Day Swim

Location – Keepers Pond, Brecon Beacons
Time and date – 2.30pm on December 25th
Price – Free
Description – Part of the nationwide Bluetit community
More info

Northern Ireland

Bangor Cancer Focus NI New Year’s Day Dip

Location – Crawfordsburn Beach
Time and date – Safety announcement at 11.45am; swim at 12 noon on January 1st
Price – £10 plus sponsorship in aid of Cancer Focus NI
Description – There will be a prize for the best fancy dress outfit
More info

Ireland

The COPE Galway Christmas Day swim

Location – Blackrock, Salthill
Time and date – Between 10am and 1pm on December 25th, or anytime between December 20th and 26th
Price – €20, includes a T-shirt. Money raised benefits COPE Galway
Description – In 1989, a group of COPE Galway staff took the plunge into icy waters on Christmas morning to raise funds for their domestic abuse support service. 33 years later the tradition continues and as many as 900 swimmers are expected to take part
More info

  • Winter swimming and festive swims in particular have risks. Learn how to stay well – read Festive Swims Do’s and Don’ts.
  • If you have a swim that’s not been listed and would like to invite others to join you, please email Emma Dodd with the relevant information to be added to the list. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any corrections that need to be applied to the swims listed above.
Emma Dodd