The Loony Dook takes place on the first day of each new year, but didn't take place in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions. Around 1,100 brave people dress up in fancy dress and throw themselves into the freezing cold water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just a few miles out of the Scottish capital. Times vary from year to year depending on the tides.
In 2010, organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay began charging a fee to swim in the Loony Dook. Dookers who cannot or prefer not to pay to swim in the ocean might want to consider the Portobello Loony Dook.
The popularity of the Loony Dook on New Year's Day has spread, with similar Loony Dook events taking place along the length of the 55-mile coastline of the Firth of Forth.
- 10.30am - Dookers check in starts (dookers must buy ticket in advance)
- 12.15pm - First dookers plunge into the water
With the skirl of bagpipes urging them on, the crowd of humanity makes a mad dash into the watter and (most of them) quickly retreat back to the bar. Some stay in much longer - up to half an hour.
Dookers will march the length of South Queensferry High Street as part of the Dookers' Parade, before launching themselves into the freezing Firth of Forth.
Spectators are welcome to cheer on participants in the annual communal exercise in masochism, both along the route of the march and down on the beach at South Queensferry.
Every year the best fancy dress costume is awarded a small prize and the honour of being the best Loony Dooker - the 2022 winner will receive £250 to donate to a charity of their choice.
£12.50 (includes £1 booking fee).
£1 from every ticket bought is donated to the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.
Dook Time and the Tide
The Dook depends on when tidal conditions are favourable. There is a Dooker parade through the town centre to the water's edge beforehand.
Dookers must register in advance to take part in the event.
The Loony Dook was the brainchild of a group of friends after a few beers in the Moorings Lounge bar. The friends thought that it would be a good cure for their hangovers to take a jump in the sea off South Queensferry on New Year's Day.
The event took place on New Year's Day in 1986, and continued as an annual tradition through the eighties. Its popularity really took off after it was filmed by the BBC during the millennium Hogmanay celebrations. With the organisers struggling to cope with the growth of the event, which had topped 1,000 dookers, it became part of the official Edinburgh's Hogmanay programme in 2010.
Pete Irvine, the director of Unique Events, who ran Edinburgh's Hogmanay for Edinburgh City Council, said the Loony Dook would become a "flagship event" in the winter festival.
Unique Events introduced an admission fee for the 2011 Loony Dook which, with an additional £1 booking fee, amounted to £6. The admission fee rose £1 a year to £10 for the Loony Dook in 2016.
Since 2016, the ticket price has included a £1 donation to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
After taking over the running of the three-day Hogmanay festival, Underbelly increased the admission fee to £11 in 2018 and then £12 in 2019.
Registration is online at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay website before the day of the event. Registrations are on a first come, first serve basis and there is no registration on the day of the event. The event usually sells out.
Loony Dook Historical Admission Prices
- 1986-2010: Free
- 2011: £6
- 2013: £7
- 2014: £8
- 2015: £9
- 2016-2017*: £10
- 2018: £11
- 2019-2020: £12
- 2021: £11.50 (+£1 booking fee)
* Price from 2016-present includes a £1 donation to the RNLI