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Popular, freezing New Year's Day tradition returns to English Bay

It's one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear swims in the world.
Polar Bear swim 2019
The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim will return to English Bay on January 1, 2024.

Like the great white bears the swim is named after, thousands of people are expected to leap into the freezing ocean on Jan. 1, 2024 as part of Vancouver's annual Polar Bear Swim.

This will be the 104th anniversary of the New Year's Day tradition, which started when 10 locals jumped into English Bay on purpose at the beginning of 1920.

“Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim is one of the largest and oldest in the world, and we’re delighted to host such an important and fun community tradition,” says Park Board chair Brennan Bastyovanszky in a press release. “It’s always amazing to see so many people come together to start the year off with an exciting challenge.”

The annual event will run from noon to 4 p.m. at English Bay beach, with the swim taking place at 2:30 p.m. For those taking part in the cold dip, change rooms will be open and warming tents will be on site.

Registration for the event is encouraged.

The Polar Bear Swim is also a fundraiser for the Greater Vancouver Food Banks; coat check will be available by donation.

The free event will feature live music, entertainment, and food trucks on site. There is also Polar Bear Swim merch for 2024, already for sale online.

Last year marked the return of the swim after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It saw a slightly smaller crowd than the 2020 edition, which had a record-breaking 7,029 participants for the 100th anniversary of the cherished, chilly tradition.