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Christmas Day and Boxing Day swims in Cornwall 2023

Would you rather:

a) Eat your own body weight in chocolate and mince pies, surrounded by wrapping paper debris

b) Flop about in front of a fire watching your favourite Christmas films

c) Plunge into the sea without a wetsuit with lots of other hardy, festive, and possibly a little insane, folk

d) All of the above for good measure

A crowd of people running into the sea for the Christmas Day swim at Sennen beach

If you picked ‘d’ then Cornwall is the place to be over Christmas, as you’ll be spoilt for choice with unique festive experiences and events, one of which is a revitalising dip in the sea! Embrace the cold surrounded by the drama of the north coast or sprint full speed into the refreshing depths in south Cornwall with the comforting knowledge that a hot chocolate is waiting for you when you emerge rosy-cheeked and very proud. It really is the best way to clear those Christmas cobwebs ready for the new year.

Ready to take the festive plunge at one of Cornwall’s beautiful beaches? Let’s dive into the best Christmas Day and Boxing Day swims in Cornwall for 2023.

Christmas Day Swims in South Cornwall


The pretty harbour at Coverack where a yearly Christmas day swim takes place

12.30pm – Coverack Harbour

The story goes that a local doctor made a bet that he could swim across the harbour and ever since it’s been a local tradition for the village residents to swim in these wintery waters on the big day. Now the Coverack swim has expanded significantly and sees people from far and wide taking the Christmas Day plunge, and often in fancy dress! Everyone is welcome at this festive dip, but it’s worth remembering the majority of people won’t be wearing a wetsuit. It’s also a fundraising event with funds raised going to Cancer Research.


The pretty harbour beach at Cadgwith where an annual Christmas Day swim takes place

12pm – Cadgwith Cove

If you want to avoid the crowds, head to the pretty village of Cadgwith where a smaller group of daring individuals brave the plunge each year in the beautiful cove. The setting is unmatched, providing a beautiful distraction as you edge your way into the wintery waters. The Cadgwith Inn opens its doors between 11.30am and 2pm for the swim, so you can pop in for a soul-warming pint after your swim – or just to watch the possibly mad swimmers from the comfort of the toasty pub.


The beautifully sandy Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth where people enjoy a Christmas Day swim

10.00am – Gyllyngvase Beach

Who said wild swimming is just for summer? A Falmouth beach that’s just as popular in the depths of winter as it is in the height of summer, Gyllyngvase is perfect for a refreshing Christmas Day dip! With fancy dress highly encouraged, this is a fun event for all the family – who doesn’t enjoy watching Santa jumping in the sea after a successful night delivering presents?

Boxing Day Swims in South Cornwall

Lizard Peninsula

Looking through the sand dunes at Poldhu beach where an annual Christmas Day swim takes place

11am – Poldhu beach

Organised by the cheerful owners of Poldhu Beach Café on the Lizard Peninsula, this Boxing Day swim has been a firm favourite with locals for many years. Perhaps it’s the beautiful setting, or perhaps it’s the giant hot chocolates and steaming mugs of mulled wine that have people swapping their pyjamas for a swimsuit year after year… Who can tell! All donations collected will go to the café’s chosen charity so if there was ever a good cause to jump into chilly waters, it’s this one.


The beautiful harbour at Charlestown where an annual Christmas Day swim takes place

11.30am – Charlestown beach

Having raised over a whopping £24,000 for local charities since the swim’s inception, the Charlestown Rowing Club’s Boxing Day swim is a truly worthwhile reason to enter the bracing waters of the Atlantic. Hundreds of eager swimmers travel to Charlestown to take part in this most-festive of traditions, and with fancy dress heartily encouraged this year, it’s sure to be a fun-filled event.

Christmas Day Swims in West Cornwall


A crowd of people running into the sea for Christmas Day swim on Sennen beach

11.00am – Sennen Cove

Another swim steeped in tradition, the Sennen Christmas Day swim attracts hundreds of people every year – with not a wetsuit in sight! Meet opposite the Sennen Surf School, let the salty water invigorate you, and afterwards wrap your fingers around a mulled wine or hot chocolate. We also recommend exploring the surrounding coastline for your Christmas Day walk as this rugged stretch of coast is stunning at any time of year, but particularly in winter.

Boxing Day Swims in West Cornwall

St Ives

The golden sands at Porthminster beach in St Ives where people embark on a Boxing Day swim each year

12pm – Porthminster beach

Whether you want to don your favourite fancy dress or a full-on winter wetsuit, the popular Boxing Day swim in St Ives welcomes all. The swim is for charity and you can make your £1 donation on the day before joining the other fearless swimmers for their descent into the depths of the West Cornwall waters. To motivate you in, Porthminster Café will be open and serving hot chocolates and bacon butties – although these can also be enjoyed by smug onlookers and those who just want to soak up the beauty of the beaches that surround St Ives.

Christmas Day Swims in North Cornwall


Waves hit Crooklets beach in Bude, one of the best spots for a Christmas Day swim in Cornwall

11.00am – Crooklets Beach

Hosted by Bude Surf Life Saving Club and running for over 35 years from Crooklets beach, the swim takes place to raise money in memory of former member Mike Moyle. Everyone is welcome to join in, though be aware children under 14 must be accompanied into the water by an adult. Refreshments are provided free of charge and you can either find sponsors before the event or make a donation on the day.


The stretching sands of Polzeath beach where people go for a Christmas Day swim

11.00am – Hayle Bay

Leave the comfort of your Cornish cottage – and the wetsuit – behind, and head down to Hayle Bay for the Polzeath Christmas Day swim! With hot chocolates and mulled tipples for afterwards and over 400 people swapping the sofa for the sea, this festive event has a real community feel.

St Agnes

Views over Trevauance Cove in St Agnes where the famous annual Christmas Day swim takes place

11am – Trevaunance Cove

Another wetsuit-free splash, the Christmas Day swim at Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, has become one of the biggest swims in the county with hundreds of brave swimmers dashing through the sand. The swim began over 20 years ago when a local landlady offered a free pint to a group of lads if they went in the sea in nothing but their pants – and so a legend and bracing tradition was born. After your Christmas swim, head up to Driftwood Spars for a very welcome glass of steaming mulled cider – the perfect antidote to the wintry sea.


Looking out over the white sands and blue seas at Porthtowan beach

11am – Porthtowan beach

If the promise of a piping hot (and free) mulled Rattler doesn’t get you in the Cornish spirit on Christmas Day, we don’t know what will! Oh yes, helping restore the festive bathers to their pre-swim temperature, the Victory Inn by Porthtowan beach opens its doors on Christmas Day to all those who dare to dip. There’s always a good crowd of equally mad – we mean, brave – swimmers so you’ll be in good company when it comes to taking the plunge.

Boxing Day Swims in North Cornwall


The sweeping golden sands at Perranporth beach

10.45am – Perranporth beach

If you can’t stand to be parted from your trusty wetsuit, this might be the swim for you as Perranporth Surf Life Saving Club have a strict swimming costumes only rule for their festive dip - although fancy dress is always encouraged. The giant beach and warming refreshments make this swim a popular one though, and there is plenty of space for everyone to splash about (pretending to swim).

Top cold water swimming tips:

• Take your time getting in and don’t stay in too long

• Woolly hats are a cold swimmer’s best friend

• Wear all the layers when you get out and take your fluffiest beach towel – dry robes are ideal

• Hot water bottles are a great way to warm up

• Get stuck into some sugary food and a hot drink to replenish your energy – mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies always go down well

• Familiarise yourself with our beach safety tips so you can enjoy the water safely

Fancy spending Christmas in Cornwall and taking part in a Christmas Day swim? Explore our holiday cottages with Christmas availability and start planning your uber-memorable festive swim.

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