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.
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 by Gareth Davies Photography TenbyHere’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
Llandudno Lions Club Boxing day dip by Greg Robbins - Llandudno Lions ClubThere 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
Walrus Dip 2016, Carmarthenshire by Justin LewisThis 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
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
Find out more about the Abersoch RNLI New Year’s Day Dip
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
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
Find out more about The Mayor’s 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 Tŷ 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
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, 12:30pm
Where: Saundersfoot beach
Find out more about the Saundersfoot New Year’s Day 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
Find out more about the Whitesands New Year’s Day Charity Swim