THE Lord Provost of Edinburgh is preparing to plunge into icy cold waters for charity when he takes on the New Year's Day Loony Dook challenge.

Part of the three day festival for Edinburgh's Hogmanay, the event will see more than 1,000 "Dookers" cheered on by 4,000 spectators as they kick start 2015 with a dip in the River Forth in the shadow of the world-famous Forth Bridges.

The Lord Provost, Councillor Donald Wilson, has signed up to take part in order to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), which provides a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service across the UK.

He said: "The event is great fun and will be raising money for a fantastic charity. The South Queensferrry branch of the RNLI will receive a 10 per cent donation from each registration fee for the event this year. I'm either brave or barmy to sign up, but I'm very glad to lend my support. I wish everyone taking part the best of luck and a happy - albeit chilly - start to the New Year."

The Loony Dook is organised by Unique Events, who produce Edinburgh's Hogmanay on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council. Earlier this month, organisers confirmed that M&D's, who operate Scotland's Theme Park in Strathclyde Country Park and also run the Edinburgh's Hogmanay carnival, will be supporting the event. It is also funded by EventScotland and Scotland's Winter Festivals.

This year's event has been a sell out and no more spaces are available. It will start with a Dookers' Parade, led by the Beastie Drummers, at 1.20pm followed by the Dook itself at 1.30pm on Thursday January 1.

Spectators are welcome to cheer on the Dookers from various vantage points along the route.

The Loony Dook is part of the Edinburgh's Hogmanay Festival which runs over three days, beginning with the Torchlight Procession through the city on Tuesday December 30 and continuing with the world famous Street Party, flagship Concert in the Gardens and Midnight Fireworks on Wednesday December 31.

The capital's Hogmanay festivities will round off with the Queensferry Loony Dook and Scot:Lands, a free festival presenting the very best in Scottish arts and music in 11 atmospheric venues across Edinburgh's Old Town on New Year's Day.