Top seven swims of the festive season

Come on in, the water’s … freezing! A chilly dash and splash has become something of a British tradition during the festive fortnight. So, if you want to burn off those Christmas calories (or wash away the obligatory New Year’s Day hangover), then search out a seasonal swim near you.


Christmas Day, 9am

The Serpentine Swimming Club has been holding its Christmas morning race in London’s Hyde Park for over 150 years. Only club members can compete for the coveted Peter Pan Cup (donated by author J.M. Barrie in 1904), but spectators can watch from the south side of the lake.


Christmas Day, 11am

Brighton’s famous festive swim has happened almost every year since 1860, making it England’s oldest. Recently, the City Council has tried to ban it due to health and safety concerns (bah humbug!), but gather at the pier with your best Santa hat on and give it a go (red tape permitting).


Christmas Day, 11am

If you don’t fancy getting wet at this fancy dress dip in Devon, you can watch from the water, onboard a special boat cruise (with a glass of hot mulled wine and a warm mince pie).


Christmas Day, 11am

If you’re nowhere near the sea on Christmas morning, head to Sandford Parks Lido instead. This Christmas Day dunking is believed to have been started by American servicemen during WWII. The pool is heated in summer, but not for this seasonal splash!


Boxing Day, 11:30am

Sherry with the neighbours? Forget that – get down to North Beach where hundreds of barmy bathers will be stampeding towards the sea. There’ll be prizes for the craziest costumes and medals for all who take part. Warm up by the beach bonfire afterwards.

St. Ives

Boxing Day, 12pm

Step away from the turkey sandwiches – the surf’s up at Porthminster Beach. After hitting the waves (and, yes, wetsuits are allowed), head to the Beach Café for hot chocolate and bacon butties. A £1 entry fee is donated to local charities.


New Year’s Day, 12:30pm

Almost 2000 people are expected to plunge into Welsh waters for Saundersfoot’s famous ‘NYDS’, with thousands more watching. Silly swimwear is a must and there’s one other rule – your head must go under! Follow mascot ‘Charlie Shivers’ on Twitter (@CharlieShivers) as the build-up begins.