Exmouth, on the south Devon coastline, was one of several locations around the British Isles to host an event, used by many to drum up charity cash from well-wishers, while others treated it as an antidote to the Christmas Day hangover.
At Exmouth, 10 miles south of Exeter, more than 1,000 people, wearing costumes ranging from festively warm to barely-there, were estimated to have packed on to the beach shortly before 11am. A rousing rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas was swiftly followed by a stampede of brave swimmers into the waves.
Costumes included traditional Father Christmas outfits and elves' smocks, while daleks and other fictional television characters also made an appearance.
Others decided to take on the chilly, wind-whipped waves of Devon's Jurassic Coast wearing little more than a pair of skimpy trunks, two-piece bikini, or, in some cases, a mankini - the thong-like male bathing garment popularised by Sacha Baron Cohen's spoof documentary presenter Borat.
Members of the RNLI watched as hundreds of people frolicked in the sea, cheered on by huge crowds on the seafront, as glorious sunshine and icy winds greeted the freezing revellers.
Tim Mock, of Exmouth lifeboat, said: "This has been happening for the last 25 years or so. It was the idea of a few lads, and the event has got bigger and bigger. They are having a good time, it's great-humoured here, people are well-behaved."