Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Swims

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While over-indulgence and office parties are more generally associated with Christmas in the UK, there is another tradition that has seen an exponential growth in interest over recent years. Adding a splash of excitement to the holiday season is the festive dip.

Despite the chilly temperatures, daring individuals across the country are enthusiastically donning their Santa hats and crimbo-themed swimwear to take a "refreshing" plunge into the bracing waters.

With many Christmas swims dating back over half a century, this quirky tradition has only gained popularity. The festive dip has now evolved into a widely anticipated event, drawing participants of all ages and backgrounds.

Held across the length and breadth of the UK the swims are not only held on Christmas Day, but also Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Most don't have any rules regarding attire whereas others welcome fancy dress and others are strictly non-wetsuit.

Most of these swims are charity events and participants are required to pay to enter. All are supervised by lifeguards, usually on a volunteer basis.

Below are a list of some of the most popular New Year, Christmas and Boxing day swims across the UK. For your convenience we have included average sea temperatures for the time of year!

South-West England

Sennen Cove

Given the slightly higher water temperatures in the Southwest it is no surprise there are plenty of options for festive dips throughout the region.


Crooklets beach, Bude, 11am on Christmas Day (Bude Surf Life Saving Club)

Join over 500 other intrepid swimmers on Christmas morning for this "refreshing" dip in the Atlantic. Entry is via sponsorship or a fee of around £10 on the day - proceeds go to help Bude Life Saving Club. NO wetsuits!

Sea temperature: 10.5° C

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Sennen Cove

Sennen beach, 11am Christmas Day

This long established Crimbo plunge sees several hundred festive dippers take to the waves of Sennen Cove. Don't bother bringing your wetsuit though as no one will be impressed!

Sea temperature: 11° C


Polzeath Beach, 11am Christmas Day

More recent, but growing in popularity, there are no shortage of takers for this chilly Cornish dip. This is another no wetsuit swim, so you'll appreciate the mulled wine / hot choc afterwards even more!

Sea temperature: 10.7° C


Perranporth Beach, 10:30am Boxing Day

A hardcore option for the day after Christmas. No wetsuits and icy waves guaranteed at this Boxing day plunge. Organised by the Perranporth Surf Life Saving Club the small entry fee covers post-swim refreshments.

Sea temperature: 10.9° C


Portreath Beach, 11am Boxing Day

Arranged by the local surf life saving club this popular festive swim is well supervised. No wetsuits, but the modest entry fee cover apres mulled wine and mince pies to warm you up.

Sea temperature: 10.9° C

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Newquay Harbour, New Year's Day 13:00

What better way to start the year than wading into the frigid waters off Newquay Harbour's sandy beach with several hundred equally hungover people! This popular dip is run to raise money for cancer charities.

Sea temperature: 10.9° C


Charlestown Harbour, Boxing Day 11:00

If you didn't manage to get in on Christmas Day then head to Charlestown near St Austell. This popular swim has been going for over 30 years now and is run by the local rowing club. Wear whatever you like with fancy dress very much encouraged.

Sea temperature: 10.6° C

St Ives

Porthminster Beach 12pm Boxing Day

Another day after dip, this is one of the cheapest around with a minimum donation of £1. Set in the calm waters of Porthminster this is a great family option.

Sea temperature: 10.9° C

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Looe Beach, New Years Day 12pm (Fancy Dress)

What better way to cure the New Year's hangover than throwing yourself into the sea off Looe beach! Fancy dress is welcomed and the event is overseen by the RNLI with donations heading their way.

Sea temperature: 10.6° C


Macmillan White Christmas Dip, Boscombe beach, 10:30 on Christmas Day

Described as the biggest charity dip in the UK, participants number in the thousands. Dating back to 2008 this mass dunk takes place on the right hand side of Boscombe Pier. Fancy dress is almost obligatory and the relatively modest registration fee goes to the very deserving Macmillan Cancer Support.

Sea temperature: 10.7° C

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Lyme Regis

Sandy Beach 1pm New Years Day

Known as the Lyme Lunge, this traditional New Year's swim sees hundreds of revelers clad in fancy dress throw themselves into the English Channel.

Sea temperature: 10.9° C

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Weymouth Harbour, Christmas Day 11am

The Christmas morning harbour swim in Weymouth is one of the few Christmas "swims" where any swimming actually takes place. This event sees hundreds of participants racing across 70 metres or so of water to the other side of the harbour. Run by the local Lions Club the swim is overseen by the RNLI

Sea temperature: 10.8° C

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Paignton Lions Club, Paignton Seafront Beach 12pm Boxing Day

Somewhat more pedestrian than the previous event, the Paignton Lions Club Walk into the Sea is pretty much what it says on the tin. That said plenty of people do seem to run towards the see - probably in an effort to stay warm!

Registration starts at around 10am and participants can either pay around £10 entry or have a sponsorship form.

Sea temperature: 10.8° C

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Tenby Beach

Photo: © David Evans

There are plenty of long-established Christmas and New Year swims in Wales with numbers only growing.


The Hi-Tide Inn, Porthcawl beach, from 10.30am on Christmas Day

Running since 1965 this annual splash is the grand-daddy of Christmas dips. Unlike in its first year, when there were only two participants, the event attracts hundreds of hardy souls and is one of the liveliest festive dips in the UK.

Sea temperature: 10° C

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Saundersfoot beach, Pembrokeshire, New Year's Day 2:00pm

If your idea of fun is joining thousands (yes, over 2,000 last year) of other like-minded lunatics to brave the chilly waters of Carmarthen Bay then this could be for you! The NYDS, as it is known, is a well organised charity event with plenty of facilities and even prizes for best fancy dress.

The registration fee is a fairly modest £5.

Sea temperature: 10.1° C

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Tenby North Beach, Boxing Day 11am

Something of a local institution for the past five decades, the Tenby Boxing Day Swim is more popular than ever. Recent years have seen nearly a thousand dippers taking part.

Featuring a warming bonfire on the beach and lashings of hot soup be sure to register in advance to ensure a spot.

Sea temperature: 10.1° C

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Pembrey Country Park

Pembrey Country Park Walrus Dip, Cefn Sidan, Boxing Day 10:30am

The Walrus Dip has been running continuously since 1984. Well, almost continuously - it was cancelled one year when the sea froze over! Held on Cefn Sidan beach the swim is free and you even get a certificate.

Sea temperature: 10.1° C


The Mayor's New Year's Day Dip, Newport Beach

This winter dip takes place from the slipway at Newport Boat Club on the estuary at Parrog. One of the more scenic dips on the Welsh calendar the event is rounded off with a mug of soup and hot showers at the clubhouse.

Sea temperature: 10.1° C

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Llandudno Lions Club 10am Boxing Day

One of the coldest plunges on our list, it's little wonder the organisers have to entice swimmers into the icy Irish Sea with a selection of prizes. Run by the local Lions Club, the Boxing Day Dip has been going for 25 years now and attracts over a hundred of the hardiest dippers.

Sea temperature: 8.8° C

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RNLI Porthdinllaen New Year's Day Dip, Morfa Nefyn, Llyn Peninsula, New Years Day 11:00am

Set in what is possibly the prettiest location of all our seasonal swims, this one takes place in the bucolic scenery of the Llyn Peninsula. Run by and watched over by the RNLI this New Year's dip attracts several hundred swimmers.

The event actually takes place in the sheltered waters of Morfa Nefyn beach, a couple of hundred metres along the coast from Porthdinllaen.

Sea temperature: 9.9° C


RNLI Rhyl Festive Dip, 09:30 - 11:30am Boxing Day

Another particularly chilly dip in the North Wales waters. Given the Baltic water temperatures on this one, no one will mind too much if you sneak a wetsuit under your fancy dress.

The swim is organised by and overseen by the RNLI and the entry fee is about a fiver.

Sea temperature: 8.8° C


Abersoch RNLI New Year's Day Dip

Abersoch beach, Llyn Peninsula, New Year's Day 11:30am

This fun-filled festive dip usually has a themed fancy dress element. Prizes are awarded to the best outfits and all ages are welcome. Bear in mind you will be running across the sand of Abersoch beach with hundreds of other people before you reach the water.

For safety reasons (it is run by the RNLI) all participants must register in advance so nobody gets left behind! Entry is around £10 for adults and £5 for children.

Sea temperature: 9.9° C

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Northern England

The North Sea is only for the brave at this time of year but there are plenty of takers in Yorkshire and along the Geordie shores.


Pier Road, Whitby, from 10am on Boxing Day

If a frigid festive frolic in the North Sea is your idea of fun then it doesn't get much chillier than this. With sea temperatures barely over 8 degrees celsius who could refuse the challenge of not getting hypothermia for the Christmas break!? Well, apparently around 300 hardy dippers are actually happy to pay for the privilege!

Organised by the local Lions club the event raises money for local charities. Prizes are awarded for the best fancy dress.

Sea temperature: 8.2° C

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Longsands Beach, Boxing Day, 11.00am

Equally freezing is the Boxing Day dip in Tynemouth. A sure fire way to blow away the post Crimbo cobwebs or make you forget about a hangover, this popular event attracts a few hundred hardy souls.

The event is run by the North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards. Those who pre-register get a commemorative T-shirt and everybody is awarded with a certificate of participation.

Sea temperature: 8.2° C

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Seaburn beach, Boxing Day 10am

Organised by Sunderland Lions Club this Boxing Day dip dates all the way back to 1974 and is probably the most popular in the region. This family-friendly dip is open to all over the age of 12 for a registration fee of around £10.

Starting from the Stack in Seaburn the swim begins with a parade, traditionally lead by the town's mayor. This is followed by what the organisers describe as a "refreshing" dip in the North Sea.

Sea temperature: 8.2° C

East England

Cromer Beach - Norfolk


Cromer beach, from 10am on Boxing Day

Located a fair way down the east coast you may expect temperatures to be a little more balmy on the Norfolk coast. Well, afraid not - it is equally baltic at Cromer beach, but that doesn't appears to put any of the hundreds of festive dippers off.

Organised by the North Norfolk Beach Runners, there is an optional 10k fun run beforehand to warm up.

Sea temperature: 8.3° C

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Felixstowe beach, 10am Christmas Day

This traditional Christmas Day swim is held in the relatively tepid waters of the Suffolk coast. Run by St Elizabeth Hospice the registration fee is fairly steep (£15-£20) but the cause is particularly worthy.

Sea temperature: 9.1° C

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Southend RNLI, Jubilee Beach, Marine Parade, Southend on Sea, 11am Boxing Day

Something of a newbie in terms of festive swims having only been running since 2015. That said, there are no shortage of enthusiastic dippers raring to plunge themselves into the chilly waters off Jubilee beach.

Organised and supervised by the local RNLI entry costs £6 in advance. It is worth noting that in previous years the event has been held on New Year's Day owing to the tide.

Sea temperature: 9.3° C

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East Point Pavillion, Lowestoft Beach, Christmas Day 10am

Another particularly chilly one with the mercury barely getting over 8 degrees C. This is obviously part of the appeal though as the event has been running for well over 40 years.

The swim takes place between the East Point Pavilion and Claremont Pier with a warm up jog along the promenade. Fancy dress is highly recommended, and you may even be able to sneak a wetsuit under the right costume!

Sea temperature: 8.3° C

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South-East England

Festive Dip

Photo: © Funk Dooby


Sunny Sands beach, Folkestone, from 10am on Boxing Day

What better way to shake off the Christmas indulgence than to throw yourself into the English Channel at Sunny Sands beach. You won't be alone as hundreds of other like-minded dippers, young and old, don fancy dress and take the plunge.

Sea temperature: 9.5° C

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Deal Rotary Icebreakers Boxing Day Dip 11am Deal Pier

Now in its forty-something year, and still growing in popularity, the Deal Rotary Icebreakers dip fortunately doesn't quite live up to its name. That said, if you ask any of the several hundred dippers I'm sure they would all tell you it was freezing.

The event was apparently started back in the early 80s by three CB radio enthusiasts named "Melba Toast", "Channel Swimmer" and "Posh John". Since then the Rotary Club have taken over and all proceeds go to local deserving causes.

Sea temperature: 9.2° C

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Only the hardiest of winter swimmers need apply for these Scottish seasonal swims.


Porty Dook, Portobello Beach, 1pm on New Year's Day

If you fancy taking part in one of the chilliest New Year dips in the UK then this could be the one for you. What's more, the Porty Dook is completely free.

Hundreds of hardcore dippers congregate at the foot of Bath Street for a wee swim in the briney. Fancy dress is welcome and local cafes usually lay on a few freebies for those who brave the icy North Sea.

Sea temperature: 8.2° C


Broughty Ferry Harbour, Dundee, 1pm on New Year’s Day

The New Year's Day Dook is a tradition dating back to the fisher folk of Broughty Ferry nearly 140 years ago. Some of the locals took a dip in the waters of the Tay every day (except the sabbath), but come New Year's Day and the whole community headed for the sea.

These days hundreds of "dookers" come from far and wide to throw themselves in the icy waters. Note - one year the sea was actually frozen over!

Sea temperature: 8.4° C

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The Loony Dook, Boathouse Steps, South Queensferry, Firth of Forth, New Year's Day 12pm

Perhaps the best-known "dook", Queensferry's Loony Dook dates back to the 1980s when a group of friends started throwing themselves in the Firth of Forth as the perfect hangover cure.

Over the years the event grew and grew, eventually becoming part of the official Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations. With entry costs rising by the year, along with the number of dookers, many thought the event had become too commercialised and it was decided to drop official backing.

However, it is likely and unofficial event will take place, although what that means in terms of supervision and facilities is something of an unknown.

Sea temperature: 8.6° C


Burghead Boxing Day Swim, 2:30pm Boxing Day

If you can't wait until New Year's Day for a proper dook then head north to Burghead. Here you will be able to take a post-Christmas plunge into the icy waters of the village harbour - a tradition that dates back to 1986.

Unlike other winter dips on this list, the Burghead "swim" involves leaping into the harbour with no opportunity to ease your way in or just go for a paddle! That said there are no shortage of hardy Moray folk willing to dive in and raise money for some worthy causes.

Sea temperature: 8.5° C

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