What the Fook is a Loony Dook?

Last updated on:
Travel looks very different right now depending on where you're from and where you're going. Be sure to check local restrictions and be willing to adhere to any and all safety regulations before planning a trip to any of the places you may read about on this site. Also, some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here.

My legs were cold. Very cold, in fact. So cold that I could no longer feel them. The numbness pangs were making me giddy. Or maybe it was the adrenaline?

Either way, I had just run into the freezing Firth of Forth (AKA the River Forth) in South Queensferry, Scotland, in nothing but a bikini and a highland cow hat. In January. And yes, it was voluntary.

I think I may have a problem.

Loony Dook 2013

You see, when I read about something crazy — something most other people won't do — I see it as a challenge. You say there's no way you're running into a frigid river on New Year's Day? WELL THEN I'M DOING IT.

This was how I volunteered myself to take part in the Loony Dook, a Scottish New Year's tradition.

Loony Dook 2013

But what exactly IS a Loony Dook, you ask? I asked, too, when I first saw the event listed as a possibility for me to participate in during my time in Edinburgh for Hogmanay. So let me help educate you.

The Loony Dook takes place each year on New Year's Day in South Queensferry, with the extremely photogenic Forth Bridge (or Forth Rail Bridge, depending on who you ask) as a backdrop.

Loony Dook 2013

In this case, “Loony” means what you'd think — crazy; mental; lunatic. Some say this word is part of the event description based on the fact that participants dress in the silliest costumes they can come up with. But I'm pretty sure it refers to the nutters who are doing the “dooking.” Which brings us to the second part of the name. A “Dook” basically means a “dip.” In this case, it refers to the fact that all participants — in their fancy dress — dive into the freezing River Forth on New Year's Day.

On January 1, 2013, I was one of these nutters. I was a Dooker!

Loony Dook 2013

The event began with a 20-minute drive from Edinburgh. I had convinced 2 of the other #Blogmanay bloggers to join me in my crazy quest, and a few others to come along to spectate. We arrived at the Firth of Forth about an hour and a half before the event would begin, and spent the time registering, warming up with some tomato soup provided by sponsor Heinz, and pumping ourselves up to strip down to basically nothing to parade through the village and then jump in a river.

By the time the Dookers Parade was set to begin at 1:30 p.m., we were ready.

Loony Dook 2013

Along with about 1,000 other Loonys (and a few thousand more bundled-up spectators), we paraded down High Street, our final destination being the Dooking area, which was full of Viking screams, more photographers than you could shake a stick at, and some… erm… interesting costumes (please, fellas, no more Borat-style mankinis, mmk? My eyes hurt.).

Loony Dook 2013

Loony Dook 2013
(Photo taken by Kirsten Alana.)

Loony Dook 2013

Nadine, Jane and I clasped hands as we neared the water, began screaming, and dashed into the river with the rest of the crazy people. I can only think of a few other times in my life that I've laughed that hard. Yes, it was cold. But it was also one of the most fun things I've ever done.

Loony Dook 2013

Loony Dook 2013

So call me crazy if you want. But I don't regret my Loony Dook experience at all!


(Check out the video below for the full Loony Dook effect! This is definitely an event that photos just don't do justice to.)


Would YOU participate in the Loony Dook?


This campaign is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by VisitScotlandETAGEdinburgh FestivalsHaggis Adventures and SkyscannerThe campaign bloggers were sourced and managed by iambassador. As always, though, all opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

47 Comments on “What the Fook is a Loony Dook?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Uh… nope, no way, no thanks. Never in a million years! Not even if you paid me!

    I feel colder just reading about the Loony Dook, never mind actually jumping into a freezing river.

      Haha, fair enough. I suppose it’s not for everybody! I sure had a lot of fun, though.

    It’s like practice for the polar plunge! I must be equally as nutty because I went snorkeling on New Year’s Eve. In Iceland.

    looks like so much fun, great photographs! I don’t think I’d do it though, brrrrrr! You have gallons more adventure in you than me 🙂

      Or maybe I’m just a tad bit crazier than you? 😉 The good news is people can go watch without participating!

    That looks like a BLAST! Just give me a couple of beers and I’m ready to go!

      You should have been there! For the longest time, NOBODY wanted to do it with me!

    This looks like it would be so much fun. I could not think of a better hangover cure on new years day than this.

    Looks like a blast! I did a polar plunge in Canada years ago for a fundraiser but it was nowhere near as crazy as this! I would do it.

      I really didn’t have any sense of just HOW crazy the Loony Dook was until we started heading down the steps to the water. Then I was blown away by how many people were taking part!

    I love and respect your kind of crazy, but no thanks for me. Well maybe when I was your age.

    Hahaha brilliant! But you didn’t even get your hair wet! Good on you, Jane and Nadine for being the only brave ones to do it 🙂 I would have come with you if we were there.

      I decided wet hair in freezing temperatures probably wasn’t the brightest idea…

    For sure…I wish I would have know about this…I would have come right up…I was right down the street…well, in London.

    I love it! This is crazy 🙂 I am getting cold just by looking at your video! Minute 1:12 to the end rocks!

    That sounds like it was crazy fun!!!

    Which also means of course that I would do it, hands down, no question 😀

      Whoo hoo! Another crazy nutter like me! Really, though, it WAS tons of fun.

    If I was with the right bunch of people I think I probably could. Though I went out to the Forth Bridge in early May (did a boat tour thing) and it was really cold even then!
    Doesn’t look like many people submerged fully?.. : )

      Yeah, I don’t imagine the water ever gets very warm in the UK!

      And there were a few people who dove in properly, but I think most just kind of went in waist-deep!

    This reminds me of (on a smaller scale) my senior year of college I jumped into Mirror Lake on OSU’s campus before the Michigan football game. There was snow on the ground, but it was so much fun and somehow the excitement made it possible to not freeze to death running home. I am so glad I participated in the tradition at least once… and we won the national championship, so it must have been because of me.

      Haha well clearly it was because of you! 😉

      And yeah, the excitement and laughter and pure adrenaline keep you from freezing to death!

    Wow. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do this, but you sure make it look fun!


    Why this incessant bout of laughter? Because I have also been a part of an Indian version of Loony Dook!

    You see, there is a place here in North India, Dev Prayag. This place sees a confluence of two of the most revered rivers in the country and it gets shit cold in December. I did not map the temperature but it reaches freezing point too, I reckon.

    And we dunked ourselves there. Guess what, it was New Year’s Day too. 21 days old, but, it still gives me chills. We were guffawing throughout because we had to keep our minds off the chill and just laugh for the sake of it.

    Oh and BTW, I organize jungle safaris in Central India (i am also a proud owner of a sweet little lodge in the jungle) and have now overseen close to 1000+ safaris here.

    Give me a shout when you have to paint India red in your map of “Where I’ve Been” 🙂



      Awesome to hear from a fellow dooker! And I know what you mean about the laughter – I laughed a ton, too!

    This sounds like something I’d agree to, then seriously regret on New Year’s Day, and then be glad I did once I’d gotten over the hypothermia. I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years and never heard about it. My friends must be saner than I thought!

      Haha, that’s definitely how it went for the 3 of us bloggers who did it – I think we all considered backing out on the day, but then we were all SO glad we did it.

    We used to have a tradition in Northwest Michigan of going skinny dipping in Lake Michigan right as we rang in the New Year. We were miles away from any city at a friend’s cabin, so the cold wasn’t usually the worst part- the worst part was trying to find our pile of clothes when we got out so we could start getting warm….

    That was many, many years ago…. So, yes, I would do something like this 🙂 all for the sake of experience!

      That’s awesome! I do all sorts of crazy things for the experience – glad to know I’m not alone.

    Looks like a festival,great pics.Thank you for sharing this post

    Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. Wish I can travel the world and make a living out of it like you girls do. 🙂

      It was SO much fun. As for traveling the world… you could totally do it, too!

    […] more open to adventure, I never would have kissed that boy in a bar or gone to the Olympics or jumped into a river in Scotland on New Year’s Day. And what a shame that would have […]

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On