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.
Because of COVID-19, the swim didn’t happen as an in-person event in 2021 or 2022. It happened in its usual format though on January 1st in 2023.
The Polar Bear Plunge at Deep Cove is one of several similar events in the Lower Mainland. Other January 1st swims take place at English Bay, Boundary Bay (in Delta), Port Moody and White Rock.
New Year’s Day Penguin Plunge at Panorama Park
The Penguin Plunge is a community event in North Vancouver. It takes place on New Year’s Day most years at Panorama Park which is by the Deep Cove Yacht Club at 4420 Gallant Avenue.
The Penguin Plunge runs from 12:30 pm until about 3:00 pm on January 1st. The actual swim happens at 2 pm. The in-person event was cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19, but the event took place in a virtual format instead. The same happened in 2022.
In 2023 the event started at 12:30 pm, the costume parade at 1:30 pm and the swim at 2:00 pm. The same as in several past years (pre-COVID), there was a bonfire and live music with Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars.
About the Penguin Plunge
The Deep Cove Penguin Plunge has been running since the early 1980s. This annual event celebrated its 41st anniversary in 2023. 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. The last couple of years before COVID 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 has been Gary Comeau & the Voodoo Allstars which is a great group. Their specialty is New Orleans’ Roots, Blues and Rock.
The Penguin Plunge is a fairly large community event in normal years. It’s 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 1,000 people. 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, be sure to do three things. (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. And (3), Convince friends to join you.
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.
For more details about the North Vancouver New Year’s Day event (from a past year) click Penguin Plunge.
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