I’ve always been curious about the yearly Polar Bear Plunge in Vancouver, and when I was younger, I used to say to myself “This will be the year I participate!” Alas, January 1st came and went many times over and I always found an excuse to not go– too rainy, too cold, up too late the night before– the excuses were endless. However, in 2018 I managed to make it to English Bay to watch the Polar Bear Plunge and cheer on those brave enough to start their year with frigid temperatures. I was impressed by how many families braved the waters together and laughed as the parents rushed out while the kids stayed in the cold water to play.  The history of how the Polar Bear Plunge started is fascinating, and while I doubt I’ll make it into the water anytime soon, it’s also a fun spectator activity. Not every plunge is the same; some have hot chocolate, live music and/or warming tents available, while others are just a quick run in and out of the water before heading home.

If you’re thinking of doing your first-ever plunge, we’ve rounded up some tips from experienced participants about how to have a fun experience:

  1. Arrive early to ensure you find a good parking spot. These events typically draw a lot of swimmers and spectators.
  2. Make sure you eat beforehand! This will help keep your body a bit warmer as you plunge into the frigid water.
  3. Wear water shoes! The beach and shallow water will be rocky, and that can hurt cold feet.
  4. Bring a towel and warm clothes to change into, including something to keep your head warm when you get out of the water.
  5. If you have a thermos kicking around, fill it with some hot chocolate or other warm beverages to enjoy when you get out of the water.
  6. Have fun with it! Plan a family costume, wear silly New Year accessories, or something to stand out! Some plunges award prizes for best costume.

Did we miss a Polar Bear Plunge? If so, email vancouver@familyfuncanada.com and we’ll add it to our list.


When: January 1, 2024
Time: 11:45-1:30pm | 12:00pm Registration, 1:00pm Swim
Where: Centennial Beach
Address: 570 Boundary Bay Road, Delta
Cost: Free. Prizes for best costume.

Port Moody

When: January 1, 2024
Time: 11:30am Registration, 1:00pm Swim
Where: Rocky Point Park (just beside the pier, where the boat launch is)
Address: 2800 Murray Street, Port Moody
Cost: Participants are asked to donate $5/swimmer or $10/family of 4. All proceeds go to Pleasantside Community Association.


When: January 1, 2024
Time: 11:30am Registration, 1:00pm Swim
Where: Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Cost: Free!

White Rock

When: January 1, 2024
Time: 10:30am Registration,  12:00pm Swim
Where: White Rock, east of the pier
Address: 14970 Marine Drive, White Rock
Cost: The event is free; prizes for the best costumes


When: January 1, 2023
Time:  12pm-4pm | 12:00pm Registration starts, 2:30 pm Swim
Where: English Bay
Cost: Free, but you need to reserve your spot. Participants (and spectators) are encouraged to bring a cash or non-perishable food donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
Note: The English Bay Polar Bear Plunge is the original event, and arguably the largest. Be prepared for large crowds and limited parking. Arrive as early as possible to find parking or take transit.