Since the early 1900s the Elfstendentocht were held in the Netherlands. When the ice is thick enough a 200 km long ice skating tour is organized in Friesland. Over the years this event has developed into upscale event where more then 20,000 people participate in. The tour goes via frozen canals, rivers and lakes all while visiting the eleven historic cities: Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum, then returning to Leeuwarden while the participants get a stamp in each passing city.
The Dutch came up with this tour as traditionally during the cold winters ice skating was the only affordable way to get around as horses were too expensive for many.
The Elfstendentocht can only be held when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimeters thick. For the last 21 years no Elfstendentocht has been skated which is the longest period without this great tour.
A solution has been suggested by many to still have a sort of tour: rent a boot and sail the Elfstedentocht. A Dutch Olympic open water swimming champion, Maarten van der Weijden already tried to keep the Elfstentocht alive when he swim the same route to raise money for cancer research.