Polar bear swim, Vancouver 2024 - Polar bear skating on ice with flippers on

Annual Polar Bear Swim is back with a splash

December 5 2023 –

The Polar Bear Swim event, one of Vancouver's most beloved New Year’s traditions, is once again making a splash on January 1, 2024. Swimmers and spectators are welcome back to English Bay for the annual cold plunge, celebrating its 104th anniversary! 

“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,” said Park Board Chair, Brennan Bastyovanszky. “It’s always amazing to see so many people come together to start the year off with an exciting challenge.”

Indoor spaces will be available including change rooms, washrooms and warming tents. Coat check, by cash or tap donation, will be available on-site, with all funds going to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Swimmers are encouraged to pack light and arrive ready to swim, as coat check space is limited.  Portable toilets and fan-favourite activities like live music, entertainment, and food trucks will also be available.

Registration and event details

The event will run from 12 pm to 4 pm, with the program beginning at 2 pm and the official swim at 2:30 pm 

Participants are encouraged to register  online in advance to receive a participation certificate.

Swimmers entering the 100-yard race should meet behind the start line. The first three swimmers to touch the marker buoy by the lifeguard boat should give their names to the lifeguard.

After the swim, participants can pick up their commemorative button at the centre-tower Family Zone or information tents spread throughout the beach.

The event will have a designated family area along with an accessible beach mat for participants.

2024 Polar Bear Swim commemorative merchandise , such as hoodies, toque and t-shirts are available for purchase online with a limited amount available for purchase on site. 

Additional safety considerations

For everyone’s safety, please remember:

  • Individuals with heart problems should only watch.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Dogs are not permitted in the swim.
  • Alcohol is not permitted. Consumption of alcohol increases the risk of hypothermia.
  • Limit water time to under 15 minutes to prevent excessive body heat loss.
  • Remove clothing only when it's time to swim. The swim will start with a flag and siren signal.

History of the swim

In 1920, Peter Pantages and nine other brave swimmers started their New Year in style by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay. The group became known as the Vancouver Polar Bear Club. Since then, the swim has grown into a much-loved highlight of the holiday season.  

Peter’s granddaughter, Lisa Pantages, will also be joining for her 62nd swim – all but two have been at English Bay.

“I’m so excited for another year of celebrating at English Bay, and to experience the energy of everyone who participates,” said Pantages. “Whether it’s your first Polar Bear Swim or your 50th, everyone goes in with the same spirit, and comes out with a fresh outlook on the New Year."

For more information, visit vancouver.ca/polarbearswim.