Festive swims in Wales

It’s time to work off the estimated six billion calories you’ve consumed over the festive period, by going for an (admittedly chilly) dip in the sea. Thousands of us take part in Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year charity swims all over Wales. We can’t promise it won’t be a bit nippy. But it will be a lot of fun.

Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim

This annual splash was dreamt up in 1965 by a couple of members of the local Chamber of Trade. The plan was for one of them (dressed as Coco the Clown) to push his colleague (dressed as Father Christmas) off the pier. The locals enjoyed the spectacle, and now 1,000+ swimmers take part, raising thousands for local charities. Fancy dress is still a popular sartorial option.

When: 25 December, 10.30am registration, 11.45am dip

Where: Porthcawl Beach

Find out more about the Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim

Tenby Boxing Day Swim

Tenby Boxing day swim

Tenby Boxing day swim

 by Gareth Davies Photography Tenby
Here’s another long-standing swim, which has been running for five decades on Tenby’s North Beach (that’s the one with the big rock). Around 700 swimmers take part, with thousands of less hardy souls cheering them on. Fun on the beach starts at 11am with a canoe race, crazy raft race and fancy dress parade. The stampede for the sea is signalled at 11.30am, and swimmers can look forward to a beach bonfire, hot soup and a commemorative medal on their return. 

When: 26 December, from 11am

Where: Tenby North Beach

Find out more about the Tenby Boxing Day Swim

Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

Llandudno Lions Club Boxing day dip

 by Greg Robbins - Llandudno Lions Club
There are prizes for the first brave female and male to enter the water and also for best fancy dress at this popular annual dip. The water is usually a bracing 9°C, but a bowl of hot soup back at the St George’s Hotel should revive the spirits. 

When: 26 December, register by 11am 

Where: St George’s Hotel, Llandudno

Find out more about the Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

Pembrey Country Park Walrus Dip 

Participants in the Walrus Dip run at Cefn Sidan beach.

Walrus Dip 2016, Carmarthenshire by Justin Lewis
This is the 33rd annual Walrus Dip, held at the vast dune-backed beach at Cefn Sidan. Fancy dress is strongly encouraged, and swimmers should get there in plenty of time – the tide goes out a long way here, so it may be a 10-minute jog to the water’s edge. The event once had to be cancelled when the sea froze over, but don’t let a piffling detail like that put you off.

When: 26 December, from 10.15am for an 11am dip

Where: Cefn Sidan

Find out more about the Pembrey Country Park Walrus Dip

Abersoch RNLI New Year’s Day Dip

The theme this year is Musicals, which at least offers plenty of scope for puns. So if you’re one of the Guys and Dolls who fancy a Wicked time with Abersoch’s High Society, here’s the place to let your Hair down. The sea might not feel like the South Pacific, but even if it’s raining Cats and dogs only Les Miserables won’t join in. Mamma Mia, it’s nippy…

When: 1 January, noon

Where: Abersoch

Find out more about the Abersoch RNLI New Year’s Day Dip

The Amroth Dippers New Year’s Day Swim

Calling all muggles. The theme for this year’s Amroth swim has been chosen to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a certain young wizard: welcome to Harry Potter and the New Year’s Day Swim. Expect a certain amount of silliness: last year they all dressed as rugby player Dan Biggar, and held a line-out in the surf. 

When: 1 January 2018, 12.30pm

Where: Amroth Beach

Find out more about the The Amroth Dippers New Year’s Day Swim

Barry Island New Year’s Day Swim

Like many great ideas, this one began up in a pub. In 1984 five members of the Jacksons Bay Lifeguard Club vowed to go for a dip the morning after their New Year’s Eve celebrations. What’s more, they set a rule that they had to totally submerge themselves three times. This remains the gold standard, but many of today’s swimmers (several hundred take part, with thousands of spectators) are happy to run into the sea in fancy dress, and run straight out again, screaming. 

When: 1 January, 12.30pm

Where: Whitmore Bay

Find out more about the Barry Island New Year’s Day Swim

The Mayor’s New Year’s Day Dip

Newport Boat Club in Pembrokeshire is your host for this chilly dip into the estuary at Parrog (and yes, the mayor really does take part). Mercifully, it’s just a short dash back up the slipway for a mug of soup and a hot shower in the Boat Club. 

When:
1 January, noon

Where: Parrog

Find out more about The Mayor’s New Year’s Day Dip

RNLI Porthdinllaen New Year’s Day Dip

Of all our seasonal swims, this one may well scoop the ‘prettiest location’ prize. It’s held on the beach at stunning peninsular Porthdinllaen, where the local boozer, the Ty Coch, is often hailed as one of the world’s best beach bars.

When: 1 January, 11.30pm

Where: Morfa Nefyn

Find out more about the RNLI Porthdinllaen New Year’s Day Dip

Saundersfoot New Year’s Day swim

This massive splash seems to get bigger and more elaborate every year - in 2017 more than 1,800 took part. The crowds were also entertained by the Cold Cup (a fancy-dress horse race over obstacles for local pub teams), fireworks and a mass dance warm-up. Last year’s fancy dress included a team of warriors who arrived on the beach inside a giant wooden Trojan Horse. As for the swim, the rules clearly state: ‘Your head must go under! If, however, you are 80+ we’d expect you to go no further than your knees.’ So there. 

When: 1 January 2018, 12:30pm

Where: Saundersfoot beach

Find out more about the Saundersfoot New Year’s Day swim

Whitesands New Year’s Day Charity Swim

A local charitable organisation, The St Davids Penknife Club, run this annual swim on Whitesands, a favourite local surfing beach on the westernmost tip of Wales. When your teeth stop chattering, you can begin to appreciate the glorious scenery.

When: 1 January, noon

Where: Whitesands

Find out more about the Whitesands New Year’s Day Charity Swim