The second annual #Blogmanay, during which I experienced my second Loony Dook, is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland, Homecoming Scotland, VisitScotland, Edinburgh Festivals, Marketing Edinburgh, Historic Scotland, Haggis Adventures and Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
When I was told about Loony Dook during my first trip to Scotland, I thought they were all mad. That was after my first instinct was to question, “What the #$*! is a Loony Dook?”
Since I live in New York City, I am familiar with the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge. And I guess it’s not too different from Loony Dook but somehow in my mind I initially made Loony Dook seem far worse, well far more idiotic, than Polar Bear Plunge is. Now that I’ve been twice, I think Loony Dook is darn good fun.
And now, I finally understand what it’s really about. As most things in Scotland really are, it’s pretty simple: it’s about havin a bit of a laugh at yourself and others. It’s a prime example of not taking oneself too seriously. It’s about, in its most simplest form, having fun.
Loony Dook takes place every New Year’s Day in South Queensferry and it’s been happening since 1987. So, longer even than Edinburgh’s official Hogmanay celebration. The starting time varies every year because it is entirely dependent on the tide. And while it started small, these days more than a thousand people come out every year, dressed in costumes (or not wearing much at all) to dunk in the Firth of Forth in front of twice as many, if not more, spectators, friends and family members. The little town is quite quiet otherwise and even just an hour before the event takes place, you might not know what’s about to occur.
But suddenly the sound of bagpipes can be heard echoing on the water and while the red Forth Bridge (an engineering feat of the late 1800s) guards the waterway to one’s left, the street to the right is suddenly impassable due to the parade of loony dookers who are making their way toward a narrow entrance to the rather pungent strip of beach which gives access to the firth. Group by group, loony dookers run into the freezing water and splash about a bit for photos, before being hauled out so another group can take their turn.
It’s all a bit insane given that the average temperature of the water is probably more than adequate to cause hypothermia yet as long as it’s been going on, and without any major casualties, and with people of all ages from young to old participating, I understand why it continues on year after year, these days with participants from all over the world even; it’s just a damn good time. As they say in Scotland, it’s a cracker.
Dylan Lowe penned another perspective of the day which you can read about here, “A Loony bubble-wrapped man went for a Dook.”
I’ve only taken photos of the Loony Dook in South Queensferry but my friend Peter and I did create our own dook last year in St. Andrews and I must say that it was really…….fun 🙂