CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Eccentric Christmas fun can be had by all at the annual Holidays Under the Peaks festivities, running Nov. 17-Dec. 31 at the Tennessee Aquarium.
Aquarium guests will be delighted throughout the season by close-up encounters with colorful chameleons, 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.
Educators will present a series of mini-programs designed for “Young Scientists.” Each Sunday, 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.
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 fuzzy 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 http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs.
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)
- 10:30 a.m. — “Sandy Claws” Crab/Lobster Program (Boneless Beauties Gallery, Ocean Journey Level 2)
- 3 p.m. — Colorful Chameleons (River Journey Lobby)
- 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 tnaqua.org/animals-exhibits/extraordinary-experiences.]
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 http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs.
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 tnaqua.org/members/gift-membership.