On January 1st North Vancouver celebrates New Year’s Day with live music and an icy cold swim in the ocean at the annual Penguin Plunge at Deep Cove.
New Year’s Day Penguin Plunge at Panorama Park
The Penguin Plunge is a community event in North Vancouver that takes place on New Year’s Day most years at Panorama Park which is located by the Deep Cove Yacht Club at 4420 Gallant Avenue.
The Penguin Plunge usually runs from 12:30 until 3:00 pm on Wednesday, January 1st, with the actual swim happening at 2 o’clock. The in-person event was cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19, but the event took place in a virtual format instead.
About the Penguin Plunge
The Deep Cove Penguin Plunge has been running since the early 1980s. It’s a free event that attracts dozens of swimmers and hundreds of spectators in years that it happens.
Swimming participants are encouraged to dress up in costumes and collect pledges of donations benefiting a local charity. In 2017 the charity recipient was North Shore Rescue, while for the last three years (including 2020) it has been the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue.
At the Penguin Plunge there is usually live music. Most years, including in 2020, the band is Gary Comeau & the Voodoo Allstars which is a great group. Their specialty is New Orleans’ Roots, Blues and Rock.
The music generally starts at about 12:30, costume judging is around 1:30 pm and the swim takes place at 2:00 pm.
The Penguin Plunge is a fairly large community event in normal years – smaller than the Polar Bear Swim that takes place in Vancouver at English Bay – but still one of the Lower Mainland’s largest swims of its kind. It’s a fabulous event and can attract well over 1000 people in years when there isn’t a pandemic. The live entertainment is great, the swimming is fun to watch and the scenery at Deep Cove is amazing.
Unlike most other New Year’s Day swimming events, the one at Panorama Park is more than just a mass quick dip in the ocean and cups of hot chocolate. There’s typically a large community bonfire and live music both before and after the swim.
Tips & Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to Deep Cove on New Year’s Day.
TIP #1: Take your camera!
TIP #2: If participating in the swim, (1) wear a costume (as it’s fun and can help you freeze less quickly, (2) obviously take a towel and lots of extra warm clothes to get into after your plunge, (3) convince friends to join you, and (4) download a pledge sheet (this link will be updated when it becomes available) and pester everyone you know for donations.
TIP #3: Hundreds of people turn out for the Penguin Plunge and parking is limited. Take public transit if you can. If driving, carpool with a group and arrive well before noon if you want to find parking within a reasonable walking distance. And if you’re swimming and have to park far away, don’t forget your towel and extra warm clothes in the car!
TIP #4: Combine your trip to the Penguin Plunge with other activities in the region. There is a lot to do on the North Shore including parks to explore and ski hills to check out.
TIP #5: In Deep Cove itself there are a couple of nice restaurants as well as a wonderful hike through the forest up the Baden Powell Trail to Quarry Rock. The hike takes about an hour up and 45 minutes back down. It’s well-marked, challenging but suitable for all levels, and starts just off Panorama Drive at the northernmost tip of Panorama Park (on the side away from the village). On a clear day the view from Quarry Rock is spectacular.
For other things to do check out the following:
- Vancouver’s January Events Calendar
- Top Activities in January
- Lower Mainland New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swims
- North Vancouver
- West Vancouver