Guide to December 2023 Ham Radio Contests

As we bid farewell to another year, it’s a good time to reflect on ways we can improve our ham radio capabilities or maybe even add another pursuit, such as satellite operating or RTTY, to our amateur radio interests. While not the busiest contesting month of the year, December provides plenty of opportunities to become better operators, increase our CW speed, take advantage of 10M openings and challenge our Topband abilities, show off our homebrew QRP devices, and a lot more.

Before we get into this month’s listings, OnAllBands would like to share a little Christmas cheer from friends of DX Engineering in Costa Rica, Shirley, TI2SFC, and Waldyn, TI2WMP, who sent us this photo:

Happy holidays to all from OnAllBands and DX Engineering!

  • QRP ARCI Topband Sprint: December 7, 0000Z to 0300Z. Ready for a true challenge? Try making QSOs on the “Gentleman’s Band” using low power! Here’s what the QRP Amateur Radio Club International says about this annual event: “A very rewarding multi-mode (CW, SSB, Mixed Mode) contest on 160M. Put up a vertical or operate with a wire in the park. With a little bit of planning YOU can work a 160M contest with QRP!” As always, the lower the power you use, the more significant the multipliers.

    Looking to upgrade your 160M acumen in the coming year? Find vertical, dipole, trap dipole, and whip 160M antennasreceive filtersphased array quarter wave tuned cables, preamps, add-on kits (including the new 160M add-on kit for Butternut HF9V, HF6V, and HF2V antennas), tuners, ferrite bead kits, dual vertical array systems, reference books, and more at
  • NRAU (Nordic Radio Amateur Union) 10M Activity Contest: December 7, 1800Z to 1900Z (CW); 1900Z to 2000Z (SSB); 2000Z to 2100Z (FM); and 2100Z to 2200Z (Digital). Here’s a great chance to take advantage of 10M openings compliments of Solar Cycle 25. Looking for gear to maximize your 10M capabilities? Click to read about some antenna upgrades available at
  • International Naval Contest: December 9, 1600Z to December 10, 1559Z. Sponsored this year by the Finish Navy Amateur Radio Society, this annual CW/SSB event takes place the second weekend of December and involves naval clubs from Romania, Finland, Portugal, Austria, and other countries.
  • ARRL 10 Meter, CW, SSB: December 9, 0000Z to December 10, 2359Z. For amateurs worldwide to exchange QSO information with as many stations as possible on 10 meters. You’ll find plenty of ways to boost your 10M performance at, including this COMTEK 20VA 20-10M Antenna.
  • QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint: December 10, 2000Z to 2300Z. This CW-only contest encourages hams to put their handcrafted equipment to the test, with bonus points awarded for use of homebrewed receivers, transmitters, and receivers, as well as operations from a portable location.
  • K1USN Slow Speed Test: December 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, and 29, 0000Z to 0100Z. Held every Friday and Monday, this CW contest is “for those who prefer a more leisurely CW pace or are new CW operators or contesters,” according to the K1USN SST website. If you copy under 25 words per minute and are looking for a welcoming place on the air to improve your CW speed, this might be just the ticket. The contest is the brainchild of members of the K1USN Radio Club, who are also members of the CW Operators Club.

Need keys, paddles, bugs, electronic keyers, code practice oscillator kits, pocket size Morse code tutors, and absolutely everything CW? You’ll find it at

  • ARRL Rookie Roundup, CW: December 17, 1800Z to 2359Z. Rookies exchange information with as many other stations as possible on the 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.

Interested in the Rookie Roundup or other contests for newbies? Read this OnAllBands article from blogger Sean Kutzko, KX9X, on contesting tips for Technicians.

  • DARC X-Mas Contest: December 26, 0830Z to 1059Z. This popular two-and-a-half hour SSB/CW sprint sponsored by DARC (Deutscher Amateur Radio Club) is the final competition which counts toward the German annual club championship. DARC invites all amateurs to join in the fun, noting that you’ll likely hear “Frohes Fest” (Merry Christmas) or “FF” in CW tacked onto more than a few QSOs.
  • YOTA Contest: December 30, 1200Z to 2359Z. This is the third round of the 2023 Youngsters on the Air Contest (previous rounds were held in April and July). Organized by the IARU R1 Youth Working Group in association with MRASZ (Hungarian Amateur Radio Society), the event is designed to increase youth activity on the air, strengthen the reputation of the YOTA program, and demonstrate support for young hams around the world.
  • RAC Winter Contest: December 30, 0000Z to 2359Z. Amateurs all over the world are invited to participate in the SSB/CW Radio Amateurs of Canada Winter Contest. Find complete rules here. Headquartered in Ottawa, the RAC is a not-for-profit national association that represents the interests of amateur radio enthusiasts across Canada. Read much more about the work of the RAC on its website. And later this month in our Amateur Radio and Morse Code in Popular Culture column, read about some CW action from three icons of the Great White North—Rush.

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