Not satisfied with an epic fireworks display, a massive street party and a Viking-led torchlight procession to celebrate the new year (which they call Hogmanay), the folks of Scotland have also instituted an annual tradition known as the Loony Dook.
This involves getting yourself dressed up in the wackiest outfit you can find, marching through the streets of South Queensferry and then throwing yourself into the Firth of Forth.
Which connects to the North Sea. Which tends not to be very warm.
I have actually done this, and am delighted to have done so. Although I don’t feel the urge to do it again.
In today’s post I’m going to do two things. I’m going to share with you some photos of the madness that is the annual Loony Dook, and then I’m going to give you information should you wish to attend yourself – either as a spectator or as a participant.
Let’s start with the photos, because they’re so much fun!
Photos from the Edinburgh / South Queensferry Loony Dook
If you’re going to dress up as a bridge, make it the Forth Rail Bridge.
Because even when dooking, you’ve got to have your tub of porridge ready.
Dookers marching through South Queenferry, led by a drum band.
In they went…
The water is not as warm as this image makes out.
Farewell Captain Hook.
We woke the spirit of Scotland.
Hulk made an appearance.
As did Wonder Woman.
Up, up and away!
It was this cold.
These folks came as photographers.
Lovely day for it!
And that’s what the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Loony Dook looks like! Now, to help you plan your own attendance at this fun event.
More information on attending the Loony Dook in Edinburgh, Scotland
How to Register for the Loony Dook
If you want to attend as a participant, you have to register in advance. There is a small fee for registration, and it usually opens around September. Check the official Edinburgh’s Hogmanay website for more information.
When is the Loony Dook?
The Loony Dook takes place every year on the first day of the year (1st January). The time depends on the tide, but it usually takes place sometime in the morning when the tide is on its way in.
Can I attend the Loony Dook without going in the water?
Absolutely! Hundreds of people attend each year as spectators. There is a very festive atmosphere and it is a lot of fun to watch and to cheer on the participants. It’s also totally free to attend as a spectator, and you don’t need to register. Just make sure you arrive well in advance, as you might have to walk a fair bit from your car if you drive.
Do I need an outfit for the Loony Dook?
An outfit is not mandatory, but given how many people attend in fancy dress, you will probably enjoy your experience a lot more if you make a bit of effort.
How many people participate in the Loony Dook?
Normally around a thousand people take part in the actual “dook”, which starts off as a procession through the streets of South Queensferry led by a drum band, before ending in the frigid waters of the Forth of Firth.
How do I get to the Loony Dook?
South Queensferry is a few miles outside of Edinburgh, so you’ll need to plan your transport accordingly. The easiest way to get here is to drive, and there is free parking with marshals to help you get to your place.
There is also a train station here, Dalmeny, which serves South Queensferry. Finally, you can also take the bus, or taxis. Many Dookers do it as part of a tour from Edinburgh, so transport is included.
Any tips for taking part in the Loony Dook?
I took part in the Loony Dook in 2015. My advice is to have someone else handle your transport – either a tour company, or a friend. You’ll want to bring a nice big towel and a bag of dry clothes that someone can give to you shortly after getting out of the water.
You’ll also absolutely want to wear some form of footwear, like sandals or old trainers. I did it bare foot, which was a big mistake – the ground in January is very very cold!
For more advice on what to bring, check out my guide to what to pack and wear for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which has a section on the Loony Dook.
Other than that, just go planning to have fun! The water is cold, but just throw yourself in without hesitating, splash around a bit, and then find that big fluffy towel. You’ll survive.
Further Reading on Visiting Scotland
Before we leave you, we just wanted to share some more resources to help you plan your trip to Scotland, both for Hogmanay, and during the rest of the year.
- We have a guide to attending Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to help you get the most out of this epic New Year’s Eve Party
- My guide to what to pack and wear to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which include the Loony Dook
- The official Edinburgh Festival City website which will give you information on attending all of Edinburgh’s festivals throughout the year
- Our series of posts on Edinburgh, including a two day Edinburgh itinerary, 21 Highlights in Edinburgh & Getting off the beaten path in Edinburgh, as well as a guide to visiting Edinburgh for the Festivals
- A detailed guide to the highlights of the epic North Coast 500 road trip, as well as accommodation options along the route, photography highlights of the NC500, and the ultimate NC500 planning guide
- A two day Glasgow and Loch Lomond Itinerary, our guide to Glasgow, as well as ten things to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
- A Guide to Touring the Scottish Borders, as well as a 5 Day Isle of Skye and Highlands itinerary
- Our guide to the best photography locations in Edinburgh and on the Isle of Skye to make sure you get the best photos from your trip to Scotland
- This Rick Steves Scotland guide, should you want a guidebook to help you plan
Well, that sums up our guide to attending the Loony Dook! Something you want to try for next year perhaps? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!