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Christmas Day swim in Cornwall.

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 region and have been a tradition in some villages and towns for over 50 years.

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!

Read on to find Christmas Day swims, Boxing Day swims, and New Year’s Day swims across Cornwall…

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Christmas Day Swims in Cornwall

Two women run into the sea.

Crooklets Beach, Bude

10:30 am – Register

10:45 am – Warm Up

11 am – Sea Swim

No wetsuits

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.

Sennen Cove, Sennen Beach

10:30 – Advised arrival

11 am – Running start

No wetsuits

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

As usual, there are no wetsuits allowed, with fancy dress encouraged, providing some interesting sights!

Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes

11 am – Start

No wetsuits

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 boxer shorts.

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

Every year a few hundred take the plunge at 11am 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

No wetsuits

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, head up 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

12pm – 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 drinks from 11:30 – 14:00.

Coverack, St Keverne Parish

12:30 pm – Start

No wetsuits

Here we have another Cornwall Christmas day swim 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 for a chat and some warmth.

Porthtowan Beach, Porthtowan

11 am – Start

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

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

Boxing Day Swims in Cornwall

Group of people on beach in winter.

Charlestown Beach, St Austell Bay

10:30 – Advised arrival

11:00 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

10:30am – Meet

10:45am – Start

No wetsuits

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.

New Year’s Day Swims in Cornwall

Older man runs into the sea.

Gyllygnvase Beach, Falmouth

12 pm – Start

Wetsuits allowed

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

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.

The event raises money for Young Lives vs Cancer, formerly CLIC Sargent, supporting young people with cancer.

Gorran Haven Beach, Gorran Haven

11 am – start

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

Say hello to 2023 with a refreshing sea swim and join the rest of the village celebrating the year to come.

The swim is organised by St Goran Rowing Club to raise funds for RNLI. Head to the village hall for coffee cakes and a raffle afterwards.

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 – 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.

A word of warning, these Christmas and New Year swim events are organised locally, often with next to no advertisement, so we have collected this list based on swims that have happened in the past.

We advise to get in touch with the town/village’s local community page/website to confirm the swims are going ahead this year to avoid disappointment.

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

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

Image credit:SasastroCC BY 2.0