Today, we dive right in to the best festive open-water swim events taking place around the UK. We’ve listed these in date order rather than suggest which ones are our favourites – we’ll leave that for the swimmers and dippers to decide!
A few words of caution though, cold-water swimming in the winter is a very cold activity and needs to be respected. Entering icy waters comes with its own set of risks and we’d urge you to understand more on these before participating in such an activity. Check out our recent blog where we share our tips on swimming in colder waters.
If you’re a hardened open water swimmer, you know the drill – this is your essential gear to cold water swimming: winter wetsuit (unless you’re a skin swimmer); swimming beanie; swimming gloves; Sherpa fleece-lined changing cloak; an insulated water bottle. You’re all set to take the icy plunge but which chilly waters will you be heading to? Here is the Charlie McLeod festive round: -
What: The annual family-friendly 'Santa Swims' organised by USwim Openwater held at two locations on consecutive days - Dock 9, Salford Quays and Boundary Park, Cheshire. Guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit because all swimmers will also receive a gift from Santa himself!
When / Where: Saturday 18th December (Salford Quays, Dock 9) & Sunday 19th December (Boundary Water Park, Cheshire), 11-12.30pm
Cost: Online - £15.00 (adults), £5.00 (8-15yrs), Pay-On-Day (cash): £20.00 (adults), £10.00 (8-15yrs), waterside supporters welcome (free).
Swimmers receive complimentary hot drinks, other refreshments available to purchase on the day.
What: Organised by Bude Surf Life Saving Club, its annual Christmas Day Swim has only one rule - no wetsuits allowed! This sponsored event raises money to help Bude Surf Life Saving Club and attracts around 500 people each year. Children aged under 14 MUST be accompanied in the water by an adult.
When / Where: Saturday 25th December, 11am, Crooklets Beach, Bude, Cornwall
Cost: Participants are encouraged to either raise sponsorship or give a £10 donation. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and hot showers available afterwards.
What: Caversham Lakes is inviting people to take an invigorating festive dip at the lakes in this year’s Boxing Day Swim & SUP. Registration opens on the day from 8:00am and the site will close at 12pm. Wearing festive gear is encouraged!
When / Where: Sunday 26th December, 9 – 11:00AM, Caversham Lakes, Henley Road, Caversham, Reading, RG4 9RA
Cost: £10 (swim/SUP) or £14 (with SUP hire). Tickets include a mince pie and mulled wine.
What: The annual Walrus Dip takes place at the dune-backed beach at Cefn Sidan. Organised by Pembrey Country Park, this festive fancy dress (strongly encouraged but not essential), sees swimmers embark on a long ‘dash’ of around 10-minutes before reaching the water's edge before taking a ‘dip’ – so it’s recommended you get there in plenty of time.
When / Where: Sunday 26th December, 10:45am, Cefn Sidan, Carmarthenshire, West Wales
What: It’s the largest event of its kind in Scotland and organised by Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association (YeAABA). Dating back to 1891, participation in the Dook has increased dramatically in recent years, attracting over 300 Dookers and 3,000 spectators. Everyone is welcome to join in but note this year, numbers will be limited to 200 due to current restrictions. The annual fancy dress competition will again return with the best-looking costumes recognised post the event (submitted photos taken at the event!).
When / Where: Saturday 1st January 2022, 12noon, Broughty Ferry Harbour, Dundee
Cost: Juniors £10 (5 to 16 years), Adults £15 (16 years and over)
For more advice about tips on open water swimming during the chillier month check out our 5 Tips For Open Water Swimming in chilly weather.