Take the Polar Bear Plunge in These 12 Cities from The 12 Best Polar Bear Plunges

The 12 Best Polar Bear Plunges

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Take the Polar Bear Plunge in These 12 Cities

Polar Bear Swims are usually associated with celebrating the New Year. In many countries plunging into ice cold waters has on January 1 (or a few days before or after) has been a tradition for more than a century. The first recorded Polar Bear Swim took place in Boston 1904. 

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MSP Polar Bear Plunge in Maryland

This year the event is on January 27. More than 10,000 brave plungers head to Sandy Point State Park every year all to benefit the 7,549 athletes of Special Olympics Maryland. This is a fundraising event in which individuals pledge $75 or more for the chance to plunge into the Chesapeake Bay. This year’s money goal is $2 million.

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Looney Dook at Edinburgh’s Firth of Forth, Scotland

The comically-named dress-to-impress event has a funny motto – silliness is good for the soul. For more than 25 years thousands of participants, also called “Dookers,” swim in the freezing water to raise money for various charities all over the U.K. The fancier the dress for the swim the better. Musicians playing the bagpipe make the event even more fun. There is a parade through the town before the plunge and people are wearing "loonies" costumes, acting jokers the best they can. This year’s event is on January 1.

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The Coney Island Polar Bear Swim, New York

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the country, founded in 1903. The founder, Bernarr Macfadden, believed that a dip in the ocean in the cold winter can boost a person’s immunity. The suggested donation is $25. The money will benefit local Coney Island organizations including the NY Aquarium and the Alliance for Coney Island. This year’s event is on New Year’s Day.

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Polar Bear Plunge at English Bay, Vancouver

The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Clubs in the world. Its first even was in 1920 when about 10 people participated. A new record for partaking was set in 2014 when 2,550 registered. The plunge has become a famous tradition and many locals have it on their to-do lists. The Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race, a separate event for more advanced swimmers, is a big attraction. Everyone is encouraged to dress in a fancy costume. This year’s event is on January 1.

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The Polar Bear Swim at Scheveningen, the Netherlands

A New Year’s dive is a typical Dutch tradition. This Nieuwjaarsduik plunge (Dutch for “New Year’s Dive”) has become so famous and huge it is actually sponsored by a corporation. Scheveningen, a huge beach resort, has been the top location for he dip since 1960 when a few people decided to start the New Year fresh. More than 10,000 people participate every year. This year’s event is on January 1.

SuperBowl Sunday Fundraising Swim at Long Beach, New York

This annual event began unintentionally in 1998 when two guys decided to go for a dip before the big game. The swim has been a fundraiser for The Make-A-Wish of Metro New York ever since as a way to honor Paulie Bradley who died at the age of 4 before being able to receive his wish which was to boogie board in Puerto Rico. This year’s event is on February 4.


Polar Bear Plunge at Lime Kiln Lake in Waupaca, Wisconsin

Ring in the new year with an icy dip in the Chain o’ Lakes before watching the New Year’s Day football. The plunge will benefit the Waupaca Fire Department, and the money will be used to upgrade its equipment. Many people chose the “all or nothing” approach and jump off the dock instead of running in the water. This year’s event is on January 1.

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Polar Bear Plunge in the sea at Barry Island, near Cardiff, Wales

The Polar Bear Swim at Barry Island has been a tradition since 1984. It’s among the most popular New Year’s Events in the country. Swimmers take pride in the costumes they wear. They often include all kinds of superhero and Star Wars characters, fancy gowns, and even bagpipes. Organizers encourage people to use the swim as a fundraising event for their favorite charities or good causes. This year’s event is on January 1.

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Olcott Polar Bear Swim for Sight at the Lions Pavilion in Olcott's Krull Park, New York

The swim has been taking place since 1969. It started as a challenge to people who were boasting about how they can endure winter’s toughest conditions. The plunge grew to be a community event when people recognized its fundraising potential. Contributions go for the support of sight programs, community services for children, healthcare and helping with disabilities, as well as various environmental projects such as planting trees. This year’s event is in early March.


Polar Bear Dip in Szigliget, southwest of Budapest, Hungary

The Polar Bear Plunge tradition is fairly new in Szigliget. This is the seventh anniversary but it has already become quite popular. Hundreds of people run into the freezing water of Lake Balaton pushing chunks of ice out of the way.


The Sears Great Canadian Chill at Britannia Beach in Ottawa, Ontario

This is another Polar Bear Plunge where the participants take pride in their costumes. All proceeds raised last year went to initiatives about helping kids with cancer. The same Polar Bear Dip but in Toronto, Canada’s only urban polar bear dip, takes place in February. There will be ice sculpting, food trucks and a kids zone.


The Polar Bear Plunge at Wildwood, New Jersey

The Highest Fundraising Team gets the Willdwood Polar Bear Plunge Championship Cup. About a thousand brave men and women run into the icy Atlantic every year. All funds raised go towards programming and events for more than 25,000 athletes statewide. The New Jersey Special Olympics Polar Plunge is taking place on January 13.

The 12 Best Polar Bear Plunges