Santa devotes a single night each year to spreading joy around the world, but during the annual Holidays Under the Peaks celebration, the Aquarium’s slate of family-friendly fun lasts throughout the season.
This year’s celebration runs Nov.
18 to Jan. 1, and the opportunities it affords families to make special memories with their loved ones are as numerous as toys in the Jolly Old Elf’s workshop. Guests of all ages will delight in a slew of new holiday programming, included free with admission, as well as the return of now-traditional activities, such as underwater appearances by SCUBA Claus and a Polar Express pajama party at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.
Throughout the season, the Aquarium’s slate of daily Extraordinary Experiences — such as animal programs, hands-on encounters and dive shows — will continue uninterrupted. But during Holidays Under the Peaks, even more daily programs will roll out every two weeks, including:
- An opossum program at 1:30 p.m. in the River Journey Lobby (Level 1) Nov. 18-Dec. 2.
- A reptile program at 1:30 p.m. in the River Journey Delta (Level 3) Dec. 3-17
- An octopus program at 1:30 p.m. in Ocean Journey (Level 2) Dec. 18-Jan. 1
Throughout the season, guests also will be able to get nose to shell with Horseshoe Crabs, Lightning Whelks, Crown Conchs and Top Crown Snails, as well as other aquatic beauties in the mobile Yule-tide Pool Touch Tank on the fourth floor of Ocean Journey.
A full list of the Aquarium’s year-round Extraordinary Experiences is available at http://www.tnaqua.org/animals-exhibits/extraordinary-experiences.
As usual, St. Nick will slip on his fins and don his respirator for dives into the Nickajack Lake and River Giants exhibits Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 19 to Dec. 18. He says he’d love to stay longer, but he had to cut his dive schedule short because he had to prepare for “The Big Night.”
- Saturday, Nov. 19 – 11 a.m. – Nickajack Lake
- Sunday, Nov. 20 – 2 p.m. – River Giants
- Saturday, Nov. 26 – 11 a.m. – River Giants
- Sunday, Nov. 27 – 2 p.m. – Nickajack Lake
- Saturday, Dec. 3 – 11 a.m. – Nickajack Lake
- Sunday, Dec. 4 – 2 p.m. – River Giants
- Saturday, Dec. 10 – 11 a.m. – River Giants
- Sunday, Dec. 11 – 2 p.m. – Nickajack Lake
- Saturday, Dec. 17 – 11 a.m. – Nickajack Lake
- Sunday, Dec. 18 – 2 p.m. – River Giants
Holidays at IMAX
[Note: A full schedule of IMAX screenings is available at http://www.tnaqua.org/calendar/month/category/imax-showtimes]
Showing throughout the holiday season, Jerusalem 3D takes audiences on an inspiring and eye-opening tour of one of the world’s oldest and most enigmatic cities. Destroyed and rebuilt countless times over 5,000 years, Jerusalem’s enduring appeal remains a mystery. Daily screenings begin Nov. 18.
The holidays are a time to embrace joy and wonder in the world around you, and Wild Africa 3D offers an ideal way to do this via the astounding vistas and natural splendor of the wildest continent on the planet. Wild Africa 3D takes audiences on a “virtual safari” from the snow-capped mountains of Kenya to the coral reefs of the Red Sea. Along the way, they’ll witness natural marvels including the mass migration of Wildebeests across the savannahs of the Serengeti and the extraordinary mating rituals of thousands of flamingos on the shores of the volcanic Lake Bogoria.
In addition to the recurring daily activities and screenings, Holidays Under the Peaks also includes a variety of other events and diversions:
- During Caroling with the Fishes on Dec. 4, guests will be able to enjoy an after-hours trip to the Aquarium while surrounded by sounds of the season. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., visitors will make their way through galleries in both buildings that will ring to the sounds of holiday songs performed by singers (individual and choral) as well as local instrumental ensembles. Families can take home a keepsake photo of their visit with Santa then treat themselves to a seasonal beverage. Register for Caroling with the Fishes in advance at https://community.tnaqua.org/events/member-programs/winter/2016/caroling-with-the-fishes-2016
- Aquarium members also can take advantage of a 20 percent discount at the River Journey gift shop to squeeze in some holiday shopping during their visit. Or, purchase a gift membership for family or friends to provide a year’s worth of Aquarium visits, discounts on IMAX films, cruises aboard the River Gorge Explorer and other special events. 2017 will be an extra-special time to be a member. It’s the Aquarium’s 25th anniversary and members will be among the first to experience the new Lemur Forest exhibit when it opens next spring. Gift memberships are available online: http://www.tnaqua.org/members/gift-membership/
- For years, families have made a Christmas Eve tradition of watching a screening of Polar Express on the enormous, six-story screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. A trip to see Polar Express is always a special holiday treat, but it’s even more enjoyable when wearing a comfy set of pajamas. At 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, PJs and The Polar Express invites families to dress in their favorite pajamas — footed or open, silk or flannel — for a special screening. In addition to a 2-D screening of the animated holiday classic, guests will meet the Conductor, sip hot cocoa from Chattz on Market and snack on brunch muffins.
Register in advance at https://community.tnaqua.org/events/member-programs/winter/2016/pjs-and-polar-express-saturday-morning-showing-Polar Express will return to IMAX on Dec. 24 for three additional showings at noon, 2 and 4 p.m.
- Even Santa would be hard-pressed to fit the freshwater titans of the Monster Fish exhibit in his magical sack of presents. During Holidays Under the Peaks, visitors will continue to have access to this National Geographic exhibit, which is housed in the River Place building (adjacent to the Aquarium’s ticketing center). Admission is free with an Aquarium membership or general admission. A tour of the exhibit includes a variety of interactive, conservation-focused games and documentary screenings, but the centerpiece of the experience is taking stock of the life-size sculptures of more than 20 aquatic giants, all of them larger than six feet and topping 200 pounds.