With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it’s time to start getting excited for the return of the most celebrated annual traditions in the city – and the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim is undoubtedly one of them!

Originating in 1920, the tradition was started by local Vancouverite Peter Pantages and nine other swimmers who decided to brave the chilly waters of English Bay. The polar plunge became a popular way to ring in the New Year, according to the City of Vancouver.

Since the first-ever Polar Bear Swim, the Vancouver Polar Bear Club has grown into a beloved holiday tradition, with a live DJ and food trucks present to celebrate after the swim.

“I’m so excited our community can be together once again this year, and experience the energy down at the beach,” says Lisa Pantages, Peter Pantage’s granddaughter. “Whether it’s your first Polar Bear Swim or your 40th, everyone goes in with the same spirit, and out with a fresh outlook on the New Year.”

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Location & swim time

On January 1st, 2024, the annual swim will run from noon to 4 pm, with the official swim scheduled for 2:30 pm.

Those interested in participating can register online to receive their participation certificate upon completion of the Polar Swim. Or you could always make a last-minute decision and just show up at English Bay on New Year’s Day!

Note that swimmers entering the 100-yard race should meet behind the start line, and the first three swimmers to touch the marker buoy should give their names to the lifeguard.

Once the swim is complete, indoor spaces will be available for swimmers to change their clothes, including changing rooms, washrooms, lockers, or warming tents.

However, the City of Vancouver recommends to come swim-ready, as the beach is packed with swimmers every year.

After the swim, participants can pick up their commemorative button at the centre-tower Family Zone or one of the Information Tents scattered throughout the beach.

So there you have it, Vancouver! Will you be plunging into the new year?

Annual Polar Bear Swim 2024

When: Monday, January 1st, 2024
Where: English Bay