Edinburgh Loony Dook: Everything you need to know about the tradition, from start time to locations

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Each year hundreds of brave Scots begin New Year’s Day with a splash…followed by a shiver

Scotland’s annual Loony Dook is set to return on January 1, 2024 - a New Year’s Day tradition that first took place in South Queensferry in 1987.

Although the official Loony Dook will not be going ahead this year, there are several locations across the country where those wanting to be a part of the annual tradition can take part.

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The Loony Dook, which sees hundreds of people enjoy a crisp venture into the sea, has been going for more than three decades and become a cultural phenomenon over the years - with many participants running into the sea in fancy dress, wearing Santa Claus and Nun costumes, some styling it out in tartan attire, some opting to bring their favourite seaside inflatables, whilst others keep it simple with traditional swimming costumes and budgie smugglers.

The annual Loony Dook will take place across several locations in 2024. Photo: Robert Perry, Getty ImagesThe annual Loony Dook will take place across several locations in 2024. Photo: Robert Perry, Getty Images
The annual Loony Dook will take place across several locations in 2024. Photo: Robert Perry, Getty Images

Becoming part of the official Hogmanay calendar in the 1990s, the original Loony Dook has not taken place in South Queensferry in the last three years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic during 2021 and 2022 and for health and safety reasons last year. The annual event has also been cancelled this year, however an unofficial Loony Dook will take place at the Firth of Forth at 2pm near the Boathouse steps.

There will also be a range of locations around the country where people can gather to take part in the annual tradition. These are all unofficial events and no registration prior to the Loony Dooks are required for the majority of them.

For Edinburgh residents the closest location is Portobello Beach which is set to get started around 1pm. For East Lothian residents, the nearest Loony Dook is in Dunbar and set to get started at 12pm at Belhaven Bay. People attending the Dunbar event are asked to meet outside the surf centre.

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Local charity, the Teapot Trust, will be hosting a Loony Dook in North Berwick on January 1 2024. Details are yet to be released about this event but we will update this page when we have more information. You can also contact [email protected] to find out more about this event.

Further afield there will also be Loony Dooks in Kirkcaldy from 12pm at the Kirkcaldy Promenade, at Broughty Ferry at 2.45pm, Kinghorn Beach from 11am (participants will need to register with the RNLI who are organising this event) and in St Andrews where visitors are asked to meet at 10am at East Sands car park.

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