The New Year's Dive: an ice-cold tradition in the Netherlands

The New Year's Dive: an ice-cold tradition in the Netherlands

Every New Year’s Day, thousands of people in the Netherlands jump into the ice-cold sea or lakes wearing bright orange hats. Why? It’s the traditional New Year's Dive!

The New Year's Dive over the years

The first New Year's Dive took place in Zandvoort in 1960. Back then, just a small group of fanatics set out to brave the cold and the wetness, but it has since grown into a huge event.

There are other countries that host New Year's Dives, but none of them have as many popular locations as the Netherlands. In 2016, over 51.000 people across the country took the plunge into waters of an average of eight degrees Celsius in over 125 different spots around the Netherlands!

The current most famous diving spot is Scheveningen, where a maximum of 10.000 heroes brave the North Sea head on.

Popular locations

Popular diving locations include:
Scheveningen, The Hague
Amsterdam Amstel
Amsterdam Ijburg
Den Bosch

For an overview on where the official New Year's Dives will be held, click here.

Unox beanies

Unox is a brand known for its trademark Dutch products, such as rookworst (a kind of sausage). However, they have also been the sponsors of the official New Year's Dive since 1998, supplying beanies and pea soup to the divers.

Thanks to Unox, seeing thousands of people running into the freezing cold water wearing bright orange pom pom beanies can presently be regarded as a truly authentic Dutch experience!

Naked dive

In certain waters the New Year's Dive will be done in the nude! Naked dives take place in, among others:
North Holland (Oostzaan Twiske)
South Holland (Nattukreek)
Zeeland (Vrouwenpolder)
North Brabant (Galderse Meren)
Gelderland (Sauna Wellness Winterswijk)
Flevoland (Flevonatuur)

Why would you do a dive?

Why exactly people decide en masse to jump into the water in midwinter to welcome the new year remains a mystery to many. There are divers who get their chilly effort sponsored for proceeds to go to charity, and part of the proceeds of the dives themselves are often donated as well.

Some appreciate the practice as a tradition and make it a social experience with friends, some relish the shock of the cold water and like pushing their boundaries, and others like to literally give the New Year a fresh start. A well-executed dive by a fit body can also have health benefits. One thing is sure - the rut from a long year and the drowsiness from the New Year’s Eve celebrations will vanish in an instant as soon as the water hits your skin.

Do you think you might join a New Year’s Dive? Let us know in the comments below!

Alexandra van Kampen


Alexandra van Kampen

English and Japanese theatre and culture are my forte. My mother was raised in England, and my grandmother in Japan. I studied Japanese Language and Culture, and Film and Photographic...

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