Belfast Telegraph

Loonies promote New Year's Day dook

It was an early bath for two young women today as they celebrated the forthcoming Loony Dook.

Bethany Lawrie and Erin Whyte, both 23, took a dip in the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry near Edinburgh to promote the New Year's Day event which also kicks off Scotland's Year of Homecoming.

The dook, an annual fixture in Scotland's calendar for more than 25 years, sees revellers in swimming costumes and fancy dress take a plunge into the chilly sea as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations.

It has grown in popularity in recent years and the sell-out January 1 event will involve around 1,100 "loony dookers" braving the cold water in the shadow of the Forth Bridge.

Over the years, the dook has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities across the UK.

Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland's regional director for Edinburgh and the Lothians, said it was a fun occasion for people of all ages, whether they are taking part or not.

"We're looking forward to the Year of Homecoming 2014 and one of the main events to start us off is the homecoming Loony Dook in South Queensferry," she said.

"It is a fantastic event for all the family, to participate in and spectate.

"Many people do it for charity, for a dare, or for the fun of it.

"It's one of our 430-plus events which are kicking off all over Scotland during the year."

Ms Calchini said the Year of Homecoming programme includes highlights such as a "whisky month" in spring, the Edinburgh festivals and events to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic year," she said.

"We're going to be on the world stage together with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup and we're going to have another fantastic year in tourism, which will benefit the whole of Scotland."

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