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Christmas Day swim in Cornwall.

Yes, you read that right! Christmas day swims in Cornwall are an annual tradition!

Every year on Christmas day, boxing day and new years day, people voluntarily run into the Cornish sea in the heart of winter.

These brave souls freeze their baubles off to raise money for amazing charities.

These festive swimming events are organised across the Duchy and have been a tradition in some villages for over 50 years.

Winter swimming isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Prepare yourself for the adrenaline rush and bring all your family and friends because your festive icy dip in the Cornish waters will be an entertaining story worth telling, and a guaranteed holiday highlight!

We’ve listed 17 festive sea swim events in Cornwall that are each happening in different Cornish villages, towns and coves on either Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day.

So, pick a date and join some brave souls for a chilly dip at one of these Christmas or New Year swims in Cornwall…

Two girls playing in Cornish waves on Christmas

Christmas Day Swims in Cornwall

Crooklets Beach, Bude

The Bude Surf Life Saving Club
10:30 am – Register
10:45 am – Warm Up
11 am – Sea Swim

Imagine over 500 people in the Atlantic Ocean with strictly no wetsuits allowed, out for a Christmas Day swim!

This year the Mike Moyle Memorial Swim organisers are aiming for the biggest turnout ever. Their target is to have 600 sponsored swimmers take the plunge!

The event raises money for the Bude Surf Life Saving Club and takes place on Crooklets Beach. Afterwards, the sea swimmers are given mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies, sausage rolls and hot shower.

Join hundreds of brave swimmers of the thousands of spectators that line the beach for this Christmas Day swim in Bude.

Gwithian Beach, Hayle

7:00am – 11:45am
Wetsuits Allowed

On the beautiful, long shores of Gwithian Beach, hundreds gather in their Santa hats to take the plunge into the sea!

With over a 4-hour window to brave the waves, you and your friends should be ready for a big Christmas dinner by the time you are done.

Sennen Cove, Sennen Beach

10:30 – Advised arrival
11 am – Running start
No wetsuits allowed, fancy dress encouraged

Head to Sennen for your Christmas day swim in Cornwall and brave the waters at the most westerly point of the region.

As usual, the rules are only swimsuits and fancy dress allowed, providing some interesting sights!

If you prefer to stay in your woollies, then go and join the spectators and watch a 50-year-old tradition carry take place.

Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes

11 am – Start
Wetsuits, strictly forbidden

It all started with a dare over 20 years ago when a Pub landlady offered a free pint to 5 lads if they ran into the sea in just their boxing shorts.

Seeing as Cornish would do anything for a pint, a north coast Christmas tradition was born.

Every year a few hundred take the plunge at 11 am on Christmas day.

Driftwood Spars Inn welcome swimmers afterwards with plenty of hot mulled cider to warm up.

Hayle Bay, New Polzeath

11 am – Start
Wetsuits, strictly forbidden

Another big event with over 400 people stripping off their winter layers to charge into the icy waters on Christmas Day.

With absolutely no wetsuits allowed, get down to Polzeath and have an adrenaline filled swim with your friends and family in the Cornish sea.

Watergate Bay, Newquay

Gather at the front of the Extreme Academy Surf School for this Christmas Day swim in Newquay.

After braving the Atlantic waters for an invigorating swim, warm up at the Beach Hut.

They’ll be serving their famous Xtreme hot chocolates for all the brave souls.

Cadgwith Cove, Lizard Peninsula

Midday – Start

This Christmas Day swim in Cornwall is a smaller gathering in one of the most beautiful coves in Cornwall.

Get ready to dip your toes in at midday on the Lizard Peninsula.

You can also watch the swim at Cadgwith Inn who are serving snacks and drink from 11:30 – 14:00.

Coverack, St Keverne Parish

St.Keverne and Coverack branch of Cancer Research UK
No Wetsuits Allowed, Christmas wear encouraged

Here we have another Christmas day swim in Cornwall tradition that began as a dare!

It is said that a local doctor made a bet with a friend that he would swim across the harbour. Since then, locals and visitors dress in their swimming costumes and raise money for Cancer Research.

Strictly no wetsuits are allowed at this charity event, so make sure you get all the sponsorship you can to make it worthwhile!

After the swim, everyone is invited back to the Fisherman’s Rest at 12:30 pm for a chat and some warmth.

Porthtowan Beach, Porthtowan

11 am

Another seaside village on the north coast, this Christmas day swim in Cornwall takes places in Porthtowan.

Everyone is welcome to join in or to speculate and free mulled rattler is being served at the Victory Inn from 12 pm for those victorious swimmers.

New Years Swim in Cornwall

Boxing Day Swims in Cornwall

Charlestown Beach, St Austell Bay

11:30 am Start

Organised by the Charleston Rowing Club for a nominated local charity

Since 1991, this event has raised and donated a grand total of £24,000 to local charities including the RNLI, Cornwall Hospice Care, Churchtown Outdoor Activity for the disabled and lots more.

So brave those icy December waters and wake yourself up from the Christmas food coma in the name of charity at this Boxing day swim in Cornwall.

Perranporth Beach, Newquay

10:30 am Meet
10:45 am Start

The Perranporth Surf Life Saving Club stress no wetsuits allowed for this Cornish boxing day dip.

Join others in the cold Atlantic waters and warm up with some organised refreshments for a small donation.

Poldhu Beach, Lizard Peninsula

10.30am – Warm Up
11 am – Start

People are advised to park at Poldhu and meet near the beach entrance at 10:30 AM.

Every year Ross and Natalie Hocking who run the Poldhu Beach Cafe organise a Boxing Day swim for charity.

The Cafe will be open on Boxing Day from 10-2 for hot drinks, mulled wine, mince pies and a reduced hot food menu.

So, if you want to watch people freeze their baubles off or are entertaining it yourself, all donations collected go towards the Cafe’s chosen charity.

Porthminster Beach, St Ives

12 pm Start
Wetsuits allowed
£1 donation to charity

Brave Boxing day swimmers flock to this well-loved beach half-naked, in fancy dress and wearing wetsuits in this popular tradition in St Ives.

For a £1 donation to charity, you, your friends and family and your dog can go for a dip in the chilly waves.

For supporters and cheerers, Porthminster Cafe will be serving festive hot chocolates and bacon butties to keep everyone warm.

Families huddles together on Cornish beach on Boxing Day

New Year’s Day Swims in Cornwall

Gyllygnvase Beach, Falmouth

12 pm Start

Why not start your New Year in Cornwall with a refreshing dip at the famous Gylly Beach in Falmouth.

Join locals and visitors of all ages for this annual event and kick-start your metabolism in the chilly Cornish waters.

Be there at noon in your swimsuit or wetsuits.

Harbour Beach, Newquay

1.30pm Start
Donations appreciated and go to CLIC Sargent

A new years swim in Newquay will be sure to clear a few foggy heads in the winter waters.

Arriving early is advised by the organisers as the quayside is usually crowded with spectators eager to watch the brave swimmers run into the sea. CLIC supports young people with cancer.

Looe Beach, Looe

10 am Registration
11 am Start

Labelled ‘Famous Looe New Years Day Dip’, last year about 250 people signed up for the 6th annual dip and raised over £1000 for Looe Lifeboat station.

Join them all this year in fancy dress and run into the New Year’s sea with the Looe’s own RNLI volunteer crew.

Gorran Haven Beach, Gorran Haven

11 am

This new years dip is an annual date in Gorran’s village diary.

Say hello to 2022 with a refreshing sea swim and join the rest of the village celebrating the year to come

Winter Outdoor Swimming Safety Tips

A few of these events are supervised by the RNLI but for those that aren’t its vital that everyone is safe and takes care of one another in the water.
Here are some tips so that you and your fellow festive swimmers are prepared.

  • Warm Clothes – Stock up on jumpers, joggers and coats.
  • Plenty of large towels and robes – make sure you get fully dry.
  • Fill a thermos with a hot drink of choice – make sure there is enough to go round.
  • Stock up on something sugary – replenish your energy.
  • Don’t expect to be in the water for a long period of time. It is much more of a token dip, especially if you are without a wetsuit. The water and air temperatures are so cold, so please do take care.
  • Check with the organiser before you go – most of them will be posting updates on Facebook. Rain won’t postpone the swims, but high seas might.
  • Check the weather, tides and currents before getting in. Often there are no lifeguards on the beaches at this time of year, so be extra careful.
  • Go with someone else, or tell someone else where you plan to swim and check in before and after.
  • Exercise before and after your swim! Keep moving and your blood pumping.
  • Don’t let children stay in too long, and make sure you are confident that conditions are safe.

Wherever you decide to go for your festive swim or 2-second dip, there are plenty of choices here in Cornwall.

The closest swim to your Carbis Bay accommodation or St Ives holiday cottage is the Porthminster Beach Boxing Day swim.

Treat yourself and your loved ones to a memorable Christmas break in Cornwall this year with Carbis Bay Holidays!


Image credit:SasastroCC BY 2.0