Many people around the world celebrate the start of a new year by plunging into cold water, often for charity or fun. Here are some of the most popular and unique New Year’s swimming events that take place in different countries.
The Netherlands: Nieuwjaarsduik
The Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive) is a tradition that dates back to 1960, when a swim club in Zandvoort decided to start the year with a refreshing dip in the North Sea. Since then, the event has grown to attract more than 60,000 participants across 200 locations in the Netherlands, making it one of the largest New Year’s swimming events in the world. The most famous location is Scheveningen, where thousands of people run into the sea wearing orange hats and gloves, sponsored by a soup company. After the dive, they are rewarded with a cup of hot soup and a medal.
Scotland: Loony Dook
The Loony Dook (Lunatic Dip) is part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) festival, which features three days of music, fireworks and festivities. The Loony Dook takes place on New Year’s Day, when hundreds of people dress up in costumes and parade through the streets of South Queensferry, before jumping into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth. The event raises money for various charities and attracts participants and spectators from all over the world.
Switzerland: Coupe de Noël & Neujahrs See Springe
The Coupe de Noël (Christmas Cup) is the oldest and largest swimming race in Europe, held every December in Geneva since 1934. More than 3,000 swimmers brave the cold water of Lake Geneva, which can be as low as 4°C (39°F), and compete in different categories over a distance of 120 meters. The event also features a costume contest, where swimmers show off their creative outfits before diving into the lake. The race is open to anyone who can swim and has a medical certificate.
Neujahrsseespringe: New Year’s Dip & Dive
A new comer on the new year’s swimming block is Interlaken’s ‘Neujahrsseespringe’ otherwise known to none German speakers as the New Year’s Dip & Dive. Annually taking place on the 1st of January at Noon (12pm) at the Neuhaus bathing area at the lake of Thun people gather to jump in the glacier fed like for a refreshing start of the new year. Inspired by the traditional Neujahrsskispringe in Oberstdorf (Germany) people are encouraged to wear a beanie and bring their favourite rubber duck and bath toys for increased joy levels. Hot soup is provided. After the event the happy swimmers continue celebrating the start of the new year at the free Touch the Mountains music festival in the centre of Interlaken together with 30000 other people! What better way to start the new year then to first touch the lake and then touch the mountains!
Portugal: Primeiro Banho do Ano
The Primeiro Banho do Ano (First Bath of the Year) is a tradition that originated in Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal, where locals would swim in the Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day to cleanse themselves of the previous year’s sins. The practice has spread to other parts of Portugal, such as Lisbon and Porto, where people gather at beaches and rivers to take a dip in the chilly water, often wearing funny hats and glasses. Some also believe that swimming on New Year’s Day brings good luck and health for the rest of the year.
USA: Polar Bear Plunge
The Polar Bear Plunge is a term used to describe various events across the USA, where people jump into cold water on or around New Year’s Day. Some of the most famous locations include Coney Island in New York, where the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has been organizing swims since 1903; Boston Harbor in Massachusetts, where the L Street Brownies have been plunging since 1904; and Lake Michigan in Chicago, where thousands of people join the Chicago Polar Bear Club for a charity swim. The Polar Bear Plunge is also popular in Canada, where it is known as the Polar Bear Dip or Swim.
Sure, I can add a few more New Year’s swimming traditions to the article. Here are some additional paragraphs that I have written:
Wales: Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim
The Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim is a cold water swimming event that takes place in the seaside village of Saundersfoot in Wales. The event started in 1984 with only 17 swimmers and has since grown to attract over 2,000 participants and 10,000 spectators every year. The swimmers wear fancy dress costumes and run into the sea from the sandy beach, raising money for various local charities. The event also features live music, food stalls and a fireworks display.
Vinterbadning (Winter Bathing) is a popular activity in Denmark, where many people enjoy swimming in the cold sea or lakes throughout the year. On New Year’s Day, many vinterbadere (winter bathers) gather at public bathing spots or join winter swimming clubs to take a dip in the icy water, often followed by a sauna or a hot drink. Some also participate in the traditional nytårsspring (New Year’s Jump), where they jump into the water from a bridge or a pier at midnight2. Vinterbadning is believed to have health benefits such as boosting the immune system, improving blood circulation and reducing stress.
USA: Lake Tahoe Polar Bear Plunge
The Lake Tahoe Polar Bear Plunge is an annual event that takes place on New Year’s Day at Kings Beach State Recreation Area in California. Hundreds of people brave the snow and the cold water of Lake Tahoe, which can be as low as 2°C (36°F), and plunge into the lake wearing swimsuits, costumes or nothing at all. The event is organized by the Tahoe Snowmobiles, a local snowmobile club, and is free for anyone who wants to join. The plunge is followed by a bonfire, hot chocolate and awards for the best costumes.
New Year’s Swimming Events Around the World
These are just some examples of how people around the world celebrate New Year’s Day with a splash. Whether it is for fun, charity or tradition, these events show that there is no better way to start a new year than with a cold and invigorating swim. Would you dare to join them?