Home Vancouver Monthly Calendar Festivals and Events in Vancouver in 2023 Metro Vancouver New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swims White Rock Polar Bear Plunge New Year’s Day Swim in 2023

White Rock Polar Bear Plunge New Year’s Day Swim in 2023

2023 White Rock Polar Plunge

The White Rock Polar Bear Plunge is one of several icy New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swims that take place in Metro Vancouver on January 1st each year.

The event takes place by the White Rock pier on January 1st in 2023.

Other similar dips in the ocean happen most years at English Bay in Vancouver and at Deep Cove on the North Shore, among other places. For details about these and other January 1st events click Lower Mainland New Year’s Swims. For details about the swim in White Rock, continue reading or see the event’s official Facebook page.


2023 White Rock Polar Bear Plunge


Polar Bear Plunge in White Rock

In years when the event takes place, crowds gather to watch hundreds of brave souls in swimsuits and funny costumes celebrate the New Year by going for a first-day-of-the-year swim in the ocean.

The White Rock event typically attracts thousands of onlookers. It’s hosted by local Rotary clubs and the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue Unit #5 is one of the sponsors (as is Vancouver’s Best Places).

The White Rock Polar Plunge is a free event. There is no charge to participate. In years when it happens as a live, in-person event, there is also hot chocolate and coffee available by donation.

After happening as a virtual event in 2022, the plunge is set to return in its regular in-person format. The Polar Bear Plunge happens on January 1st in 2023, which marks the event’s 53rd year. Registration is at 10:30 am and the plunge is at noon.

The event is held in the community of White Rock at the beach just east of the pier right by the community’s landmark giant white rock.


Polar Bear Plunge Mascot in White Rock


Participation in the Polar Swim

Participants in the White Rock Polar Bear Plunge are encouraged to register for the event. Polar Bear plunging is free and registered participants get an official Polar Plunge certificate. Swimmers in costumes can win prizes.

With respect to costumes and prizes, there is an adults’ category and a children’s category with first, second and third place awards.


Polar Bear Plunge Video

To give you an idea of what to expect at the White Rock Polar Bear Plunge check out the following video which was taken at the event in 2020 (which was an unusually warm and wonderfully sunny day). As you’ll see, thousands of people attend the event.



Tips and Advice

Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your White Rock Polar Bear Plunge experience.


Tips About Prizes

TIP #1: If swimming, wear a costume because it’s fun, there are prizes and it might help keep you warm (or at least warmer than just your trunks or bikini). Also, consider wearing some kind of water shoes as the tide might be close to where the beach gets rocky.

TIP #2: The crowd decides who wins the prizes for best costumes. Judges ask people to cheer for each contestant and the prizes are awarded based on the loudest screams. The prizes include things like t-shirts and polar bear-related souvenirs. So don’t just wear a really good costume – also invite lots of friends with loud voices to come along and cheer you on!


White Rock Polar Bear Swimmers
2022 Polar Plunge Swimmers in White Rock


Other Advice

TIP #3: Don’t forget to take a towel, camera, warm clothes to change into afterwards and your friends and family.

TIP #4: This is one time when swimming on an empty stomach might not be the best idea. Having a bit of food inside you might help keep you an extra degree or two warmer.

TIP #5: Especially if it’s a day with good weather, go really early if you want to find a parking spot for your car. By 11:00 am most parking spots are already taken. If you arrive after that you might have to park up the hill in the centre of the town and walk down to the beach. That’s not too hard. Walking back up the steep hill afterwards, though, especially if you’re cold after an icy swim, will be the challenge!

TIP #6: Don’t be upset if your photo appears in the newspaper (or in online media like Vancouver’s Best Places). This is a public event and media will be there! Not wanting to be recognized or show off too much skin is another good reason to wear a costume.


White Rock Polar Bear Swim
White Rock Polar Bear by the Pier


Recent Polar Plunges

In 2019 the White Rock Polar Plunge was going to celebrate its 49th year. Because of severe wind damage to the White Rock Pier in December 2018, however, the 2019 swim was cancelled. The pier has fortunately since been repaired and the swim celebrated its 50th anniversary on January 1st, 2020.

The 2021 event took place virtually due to COVID-19. The in-person swim on January 1st in 2022 was cancelled just one week before it was going to take place. The decision was made because of concerns about a surge in cases of COVID-19. Similar to the year before, the 2022 swim took place as a virtual event instead. People were encouraged to get cold in water at home. If you sent a picture of your plunge at home to plunge.at.home@gmail.com you had a chance to win a prize.

In recent years as many as 3000 people have attended the event. In 2020 organizers hoped that as many as 800 of them would bring their swimsuits.


White Rock Polar Bear Swim


Other Information

For more information, see the event’s Facebook Page for details about the event in 2023.

The event is hosted by the Rotary Club of White Rock, Rotary Club of Surrey, Rotary Club of SemiahmooRotary Club of PNW Passport, Rotary Club of White Rock Peninsula, Rotary Club of Nature Celebrators, and Rotary Club of Surrey-Newton. These are service club organizations made up of professionals, business people and other like-minded individuals who support both local and international charitable projects.

Other polar bear swims take place in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Delta and Fort Langley. For details about these other events click Lower Mainland New Year’s Swims.

To learn more about the venue and surrounding area, see our page about White Rock.

For a list of other Metro Vancouver events at different times of the year, check out our January Calendar or Festivals & Events Calendar.