Holidays Under The Peaks At The Tennessee Aquarium

Festivities Feature Special Animal Programs, SCUBA Claus, PJs At IMAX, And More

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - by Thom Benson

From chameleons more colorful than Clark Griswald’s latest lighting opus to special underwater appearances by the Jolly Old Elf himself, the Aquarium will be literally packed to the gills with memorable Yuletide experiences in the coming weeks.

This year’s Holidays Under the Peaks festivities run Nov. 17-Dec. 31, and will offer families unique ways to celebrate the season.

If you think your Thanksgiving spread disappears quickly, wait until you get a load of the ravenous feasting habits of freshwater pipefish. These slender creatures are lightning-fast diners and don’t leave any leftovers. Aquarium experts help you understand these amazing creatures during special feeding programs during the first two weeks of holiday programming.

Aquarium guests will be delighted throughout the season by close-up encounters with colorful chameleons, merry mammals and other saltwater wonders. Visitors are encouraged to download the Aquarium’s free app to help plan their visit around the slew of special programs offered each day. From meeting some creatures with “Sandy Claws” to story time with the penguins, there will be a lot going on to keep the eyes of tiny tots aglow.

Aquarium educators will also be engaging kids with a series of mini-programs designed for “Young Scientists.” EachSunday, families will become immersed in fun activities that appeal to inquisitive minds and feeds curiosity about wildlife and the natural world.

The Aquarium’s animal experts are also planning special, “unadvertised” holiday enrichment programs for the animals. Guests may see otters frolicking with frozen treats or lemurs opening special gift bags from time to time.

SCUBA Claus will return Saturday, Nov. 18, to mingle with many of the Aquarium’s freshwater fishes. He’ll continue to make weekend appearances through Dec 17. (After that he’ll be a pretty busy fella.)

Attending a screening of Polar Express 3D on the enormous, six-story screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater has become a bona fide holiday family tradition for many. This Oscar-nominated animated film reaches new levels of brightness and clarity on Chattanooga’s only IMAX with Laser projection system, but the magic really notches up when viewed in the comfort of your fuzziest pajamas.

This year’s PJs and Polar Express special screenings are at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, and Sunday, Dec. 18. Before the film, attendees will get to meet The Conductor, sip hot cocoa and snack on pastries. Register in advance at

Special Holidays Under the Peaks Programming

During Holidays Under the Peaks, guests will be able to enjoy special, seasonal additions to the Aquarium’s slate of Extraordinary Experiences animal encounters and dive shows. Every two weeks, new daily programs will be rotated out, including:

Nov. 17-Dec. 1

·       Noon — Magnificent Marine Invertebrates (Ocean Journey Level 4)\

·       1:15 p.m. —  Freshwater Pipefish Feeding (Rivers of the World, River Journey Level 2)

Dec. 2-16

·       10:30 a.m. — “Sandy Claws” Crab/Lobster Program (Boneless Beauties Gallery, Ocean Journey Level 2)

·       3 p.m. — Colorful Chameleons (River Journey Lobby)

Dec. 17-31

·       11 a.m. — Penguin Storytime (Penguins’ Rock, Ocean Journey Level 2)

·       1 p.m. — Merry Mammals (River Journey Auditorium)

[A full list of the Aquarium’s year-round Extraordinary Experiences is available at]

SCUBA Claus Dive Schedule

Did you know, in the midst of tackling the seemingly impossible task of delivering presents to every home on the planet, Santa Claus found the time to get SCUBA certified? Guests to the Aquarium are familiar with (and fond of) Saint Nick’s annual underwater visits to the Nickajack Lake and River Giants exhibits. This year, you can catch the Jolly Old Elf’s dives and press your wish list against the glass on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 18 to Dec. 17:

·       Nov. 18 — River Giants (11 a.m.)

·       Nov. 19 — Lake Nickajack (2 p.m.)

·       Nov. 25 — Lake Nickajack (11 a.m.)

·       Nov. 26 — River Giants (2 p.m.)

·       Dec.   2 — River Giants (11 a.m.)

·       Dec.   3 — Lake Nickajack (2 p.m.)

·       Dec.   9 — Lake Nickajack (11 a.m.)

·       Dec. 10 — River Giants (2 p.m.)

·       Dec. 16 — River Giants (11 a.m.)

·       Dec. 17 — Lake Nickajack (2 p.m.)

Young Scientist Schedule (River Journey A-Space Sundays from 1:15 – 2 p.m.)

·       Nov. 19 — Opossums

·       Nov. 26 — Migratory Birds

·       Dec.   3 — Microscopes

·       Dec. 10 — Stream Science

·       Dec. 17 — Gifts for Animals

Additional Holiday Information:

Caroling With the Fishes returns to the Aquarium on Sunday, Dec. 3. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., guests will be able to explore the Aquarium after normal operating hours. As they explore the specially decorated galleries of the Ocean Journey and River Journey buildings, they will be able to enjoy live entertainment by choruses, singers and local musicians. Visitors also will be able to visit Santa, before capping off their evening by taking advantage of a 20 percent discount in the gift shop. Register in advance at

Give a Gift of Wonder

The holidays are an especially magical time of year, but walking through the Aquarium’s galleries is always a special experience, regardless of when you choose to visit. To ensure you’ve always got access to more than 10,000 animals, including leaping lemurs, rocketing penguins and the world’s largest collection of freshwater turtles, give the gift of an Aquarium membership this year.

Beginning on Friday, November 24, anyone purchasing an Aquarium Gift Membership will also receive a free North American River Otter plush. (Shipping included.) This special offer will last through December 17.

Learn more about the benefits of gift memberships and purchase one of your own at

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