The Loony Dook; what a day at Hogmanay!

The Loony Dook, an annual New Years Day pilgrimage for people who can only be described as ‘Loony’, is a new addition to the Official Edinburgh Hogmanay events calendar in 2011.

However, the event itself is no newcomer, in fact it has been a staple new years diet for many an outrageously hungover Scotsman for many years! From humble beginnings, it has now blossomed into an internationally recognised event attracting ‘Dookers’ from all over the world!

So why the growing popularity? Well, to start with, there is no better way to cure a Hogmanay hangover than to throw yourself in the baltic water of the Forth River with a few merry friends in tow! To add to the already ridiculous idea, ‘Dookers’ are encouraged to dress up in fancy dress of any variety. A sight for sore eyes does not even begin to describe the wacky, wonderful and downright naughty costumes that people heroically turn up wearing in freezing temperatures.

If the ‘fun factor’ wasn’t a good enough reason to join in, then how about the ‘feel-good factor’ of raising money for local charities! The Loony Dook event has long been a source of important donations for local charities and the organising committee pride themselves on their community involvement.

The beauty of this event is it’s simplicity: Do something crazy, start your New Year with a bang, and do it all for a good cause! As a seasoned ‘Dooker’ myself, the event is one of my absolute favourite experiences.

In short, you turn up at the local pub in South Queensferry and fling a few coins of goodwill into the collection tin. Squeeze yourself into a spot at the bar, order a few shots of something to warm your cockles, make sure you are wearing the most outrageous, costume you can muster (bare bums are all the rage here!) and mingle with the locals!

At 12 noon (note; this time can change depending on the tides year on year), the bagpipers will arrive and lead the costumed, colourful, and goose pimpled procession down the main street of the quaint town of South Queensferry. Soak this moment up, it may be the closest you will ever get to your 2 minutes of fame, as the locals line the side-walks and force cameras in your face on your way down to the water. This is a small town, and this may well be the biggest event of the year, so humour them and strike a pose!

I knew the water would be cold, but no amount of mental pep talks will ever prepare you for just how cold the Forth is. Literally, you won’t be able to feel any part of your body that touches – or even skims – the dark water. And if you do experience a spark of feeling, it will be pain. The world’s most sudden hangover cure does come at a price!

The walk back to the pub is possibly the most interesting part of all; wet, dripping, cold, and unsure whether your feet are still attached to your body. However it’s worth the chattering teeth when you are greeted at the pub with a warm dry set of clothes, hot toddy (that’s soup, not hot girls, in case you are not familiar with Scottish lingo), and a celebratory drink with your fellow ‘Dookers’.

Why start a new year in any other way?

- Eris Fink

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