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Polar Bear plunges 2022

Polar bear plunges to start the new year

A few hardy souls like to start the year with a freezing dip

Seattle’s official Polar Bear Plunge is back for 2024.

What’s that you ask? New Year’s Day plunges are your family’s chance to greet 2024 with an invigorating — if crazy — dive into a chilly lake or other body of water.

The Seattle Polar Bear Plunge takes place on Jan. 1 at Matthews Beach, located 9300 51st Ave. NE.  General admission starts at noon, with space open at 11:45 a.m. for younger participants who may join the Polar Cub Club plunge.

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Meadowbrook Community Center Advisory Council are co-sponsoring the annual Seattle event, which includes an ice-cold dive into Lake Washington. All ages are invited to participate, so jump in as a family. Those who immerse themselves up to the neck will receive a Commemorative Badge of Courage as proof of their participation in this frigid and invigorating annual craziness.

Younger polar bears (or bears who need a little more room to navigate) are encouraged to participate in the Polar Cub Club dip, which will immediately precede the main plunge at noon. Jump in with your child first and then do it again in the main event for double bragging rights.

For some, it’s an annual tradition. If this is your family’s first plunge, here are three big tips for making it through:

  • Remember to pack a change of clothes
  • Keep your feet warm before and after the plunge, and
  • Don’t forget to breathe when you hit the cold water

Seattle Parks and Recreation offers these additional tips for enjoying a fun, safe Polar Bear Plunge:

  • Make the plunge even more special by dressing up in a costume!
  • Come early and carpool or take the bus
  • If anyone in your family has problems or other serious medical concerns, consult your healthcare professional before taking the Polar Bear Plunge. If you can’t go in the water, come and watch!
  • Stay in the water for no longer than 15 minutes—you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Keep your outer clothing on until you get in the water. After the plunge, remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

According to the parks department, the Polar Bear Plunge was the first official event of its kind in the region when it was first held on Jan. 1, 2003.

Resolution Run and Polar Bear Dive

Run before you plunge! Join the 5K run/walk that starts at Magnuson Park with an optional dive into Lake Washington right before the finish line. Free kid’s dash also available for children 10 & under. Enjoy the free hot chili, cocoa and more after your run/dive. Registration required.

More polar bear plunges around Seattle

Alki Beach Polar Bear Plunge

Head over to Alki Beach and plunge at 10 a.m. sharp. Plungers will meet at across from Duke’s Chowder House.

Outside Seattle

Lake Sammamish State Park

You can run into chilly Lake Sammamish on New Year’s Day during the Polar Plunge at Lake Sammamish State Park. Festivities will begin at 10:30 a.m. with registration, music, and merriment on the shores of Sunset Beach. The crowd will “plunge” at noon. The first 300 registered participants will receive a Polar Plunge souvenir socks, souvenir pin, commemorative sticker and swag from sponsors. Dress up individually or as a team for the plunge costume contest. Registration is open at

Renton Polar Bear Plunge

Due to concerns about a toxic algae bloom in Lake Washington, the Renton Polar Bear Plunge has been relocated to the Henry Moses Aquatic Center at at 1719 Maple Valley Highway in Renton. The plunge will still be happening at 10 a.m. as originally planned.

Metro Parks Tacoma: Point Defiance Marina

This plunge into the mid-40s waters of Puget Sound features the chance to jump off the marina docks into the Sound. The adults-only plunge is at 11:30 a.m., while cubs are welcome at 12:30 p.m. Warm beverages will be available, life jackets will be provided, and lifeguards will be on the docks. 5912 Waterfront Drive, Tacoma; 10:30 a.m.$10

Farther afield

Birch Bay

Join in for the 41st annual plunge in scenic Birth Bay, two hours north of Seattle. The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce will be opening its registration and warming tent at Beach Cat Brewing Company (7876 Birch Bay Drive) starting at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is encouraged and event sponsors highly recommend participants wear water shoes or old sneakers into the water because barnacle-bearing rocks are a site feature. To pre-register, visit this website.

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Seattle's Child staff