Holiday Happenings at The Maritime Aquarium

See Santa Claus on land, sea and the giant screen in December as part of the holiday-season fun at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

Santa will be posing with kids in a holiday exhibit, scuba diving with the sharks and appearing on the six-story IMAX® Theater screen in “The Polar Express,” all part of the Connecticut family attraction’s bonus Christmas offerings.

A visit to the Aquarium is always a gift to yourself, your family and your friends, thanks to the sharks, seals, river otters, jellyfish, sea turtles and other marine animals, as well as the amazing IMAXmovies playing on the six-story screen (Connecticut’s largest).

But this holiday season offers special bonus presents for kids and families to enjoy:

“Shark-Diving Santa”  

At 12:15 & 2:15 p.m. Nov. 25-26 and most Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays in December. (No dives Dec. 24 & 25.) Also daily Dec. 26-31.

Santa Claus will join The Maritime Aquarium’s dive team in December to help demonstrate that sharks aren’t the blood-thirsty killers of myth.

Several times each week through the holiday season (workload permitting), Santa will strap on his custom scuba outfit and enter the Aquarium’s 110,000-gallon “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit, which is home to 7-foot sharks.

He’ll swim up to the exhibit window and pose with children, so bring your camera for a unique photo opp.

Santa is expected to participate in each dive beginning Nov. 25-26, and then in December on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Times are 12:15 & 2:15 p.m. Check the Aquarium’s website – (under “Upcoming Events”) – to confirm the dates when Santa can pull himself away from the North Pole and exchange his snow boots for swim fins.

“Shark-Diving Santa” is part of a regular Aquarium program where guests can see and talk with volunteer divers swimming in the exhibit. The purpose of the dives is to correct common misperceptions about sharks, as the divers demonstrate how sharks do not see humans as prey.

All the dives are free with Aquarium admission.

Santa in the Fishing Village

Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17, each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit Santa Claus aboard a festive fishing boat on three special weekends in December as The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk adds a bonus holiday exhibit to “fish” you a Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus will be in the holiday exhibit Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17, each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Look for him in what is normally the Aquarium’s “Go Fish” exhibit, which will be transformed into a holiday wonderland in December. Santa will accept children’s wish lists and pose for photos for free, so bring your camera to snap a keepsake memory.

Please note that, each of those weekend days at 12:15 p.m., Santa will take breaks from the Fishing Village to become “Shark-Diving Santa,” joining the Aquarium scuba team to swim among the sharks in the “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit.

IMAX movie “The Polar Express” 

At 5 p.m. Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 2-3. And at 9 a.m. & 5 p.m. Dec. 9-10.

Santa Claus awaits at the end of a wild giant-screen ride to the North Pole beginning Nov. 24 when the holiday film “The Polar Express” returns for a limited engagement to The Maritime Aquarium’s IMAX Theater.

The animated Hollywood film, featuring Tom Hanks as the voice of five characters, returns to the Aquarium’s six-story screen Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 2-3, with all show times at 5 p.m. On Sat. Dec. 9 and Sun., Dec. 10, “The Polar Express” will play at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“The screen size, picture clarity and surround-sound audio makes IMAX the most immersive film format,” said Aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. “And so IMAX is the perfect way to experience a movie like ‘The Polar Express’ that’s all about believing.”

Based on the 1986 Caldecott Award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, “The Polar Express” follows a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus but gets taken on a magical Christmas Eve trip to the North Pole.

Because “The Polar Express” is an hour and 40 minutes long, tickets are specially priced at: $11.50 for adults; $10.50 for youths (ages 13-17) & seniors (65+); and $9.50 for children 3-12. Maritime Aquarium members save $1.

Special weekday shows at 9 or 10 a.m. are available for preschools and elementary schools. Call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, for details.

“Flurry Zone! An Indoor Snow Experience”

Every hour on the hour, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Dec. 1-31

No matter the weather outside, The Maritime Aquarium is guaranteeing a snowy forecast inside the popular family attraction, thanks to a special snow machine that will produce an hourly flurry each day in December.

  Every hour, on the hour, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., snow will fall from the ceiling of Newman’s Own Hall (where the seals are). The squall will last for 5 minutes but, through unique technology, evaporate before hitting the floor, so no shoveling will be required.

“Here’s the chance to enjoy a pretty snowfall to help get you into the holiday spirit, but a snowfall that will be inside, where it’s warm!” said Dave Sigworth, the Aquarium’s spokesman.

            “Flurry Zone! An Indoor Snow Experience” will be free with Aquarium admission.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 70mm IMAX film

Premieres Thurs., Dec. 14 at 7 (sold out) & 10 p.m. Then showing at 1, 4, 7 & 10 p.m. Dec. 15-Jan. 15, except Dec. 24 (noon only) and no shows Christmas Day.

Tickets are on sale now to experience “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in Connecticut’s largest IMAX® Theater when the latest episode in the saga premieres Dec. 14 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The Maritime Aquarium is one of only 10 theaters in the U.S. that will show “The Last Jedi” in 70mm IMAX film projection. (The next closest is in Philadelphia.) Thus, “Star Wars” fans won’t see “The Last Jedi” bigger or better anywhere in New England – or in the New York metropolitan area – than at The Maritime Aquarium with its six-story screen.

The Maritime Aquarium’s theater combines the brightest, clearest images at almost 10 times the resolution of standard-projection formats with powerful, laser-aligned digital sound and customized theater geometry to create the world's most immersive film experience. Director Rian Johnson shot portions of “The Last Jedi” with IMAX cameras, and those scenes will fill the Aquarium’s giant screen (in ways unavailable in conventional cinemas).

“The Last Jedi” premieres on Thurs., Dec. 14 at 7 (sold out) & 10 p.m. Then, in an unprecedented move, The Maritime Aquarium is suspending its regular schedule of 40-minute IMAX documentaries from Dec. 15-Jan. 15 to present only “The Last Jedi.” Show times are 1, 4, 7 & 10 p.m. (There’s only one show on Dec. 24 – at noon – and no shows Christmas Day.)

Tickets are $15 for adults, seniors and youths (13-17), and $12.50 for children (3-12). Get them online at Aquarium admission tickets are separate.

Episode VIII in the “Star Wars” series and sequel to “The Force Awakens,” “The Last Jedi” stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac. New cast members include Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern. Fisher died in December 2016, making “The Last Jedi” her final film role.

“The Last Jedi” is expected to have a rating of PG-13. It’s produced by Lucasfilm and will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

“Feeding Time!” (behind-the-scenes program)

Thurs., Dec. 28 from 8-10 a.m.

Join The Maritime Aquarium for a breakfast to remember! This Dec. 28 “Feeding Time” is a great idea for entertaining family and friends visiting for the holidays.

After a light buffet in the Cascade Café, participants will make the rounds as Aquarium staff feeds an amazing assortment of hungry animals. Take a turn feeding the turtles, horseshoe crabs and rays. Get up close and personal with the harbor seals at a private feeding. Best of all, watch behind-the-scenes as the aquarists feed the big sharks in the Aquarium’s Ocean Beyond the Sound exhibit. Help throw in some fish too!

Children must be age 5 or older. Tickets are $50 per adult & $25 per child 5-12 ($45 & $20 for Aquarium members). Advance registration is required.

Call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, or sign up online at

“Noon” Year’s Eve

Sun., Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

End the year – including a countdown to 12 o’clock … noon – with special family fun on Dec. 31 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The Aquarium is planning a day of activities geared for families with young children who want to celebrate the end of 2017 together, but not at the stroke of midnight.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a disc jockey will provide the beat, as well as a countdown to 12 o’clock; 12 o’clock noon, that is.

Also on hand will be “bubble-ologist” Kim Winslow and strolling family comedy and juggling by Peter Straus, plus a magician and more.

Get all the details at

Seal-Spotting & Birding Cruises

Many weekends Dec. 9 through March 31. Dates and times vary by low tide.

Join The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk out on Long Island Sound in hopes of seeing some of the seals and waterfowl that spend the winter just off our shores.

These invigorating 2.5-hour cruises seek out the harbor seals and gray seals that migrate down into the Sound each winter. Aquarium educators will point out these federally protected marine mammals and talk about their natural histories. And they’ll discuss what happens with the Sound’s marine population during the winter: who stays, who migrates out and who migrates in (besides the seals).

These cruises also give birders unique “on-the-water” access to see and photograph visiting winter waterfowl, such as buffleheads, mergansers, Brant geese and long-tailed ducks.

Binoculars will be provided. Cruises occur aboard R/V Spirit of the Sound, the country’s first research vessel with hybrid-electric propulsion. She has a climate-controlled cabin, but dress warmly because the best viewing occurs outside on deck.

Seal-Spotting & Birding Cruises will occur on many weekends from Dec. 9, 2017, through March 31, 2018. Dates and departure times vary by the tide schedule.

Dates and departure times in December are:

• Sat., Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.

• Sun., Dec. 10 at 10 a.m.

• Sat., Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m.

• Wed., Dec. 27 at 11 a.m.

• Thurs., Dec. 28 at 11 a.m.

• Fri., Dec. 29 at 1:30 p.m.

• Sat., Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.

• and Sun., Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. (special New Year’s Eve champagne cruise)

Participants must be at least 42 inches tall to board.

Tickets are $29.95, or $24.95 for Aquarium members. Space is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting.

For reservations or more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, or go to

And remember that a Maritime Aquarium membership makes a great gift idea, for individuals and families. Members receive: free general admission for a year; the members’ newsletter; discounts to IMAX movies, Gift Shop purchases and special events; and lots more. Family memberships start at $170.

Here are Maritime Aquarium admission prices:

Aquarium: (includes a classic IMAX movie through Dec. 14): $22.95 for adults; $20.95 for both youths (13-17) and seniors (65+); and $15.95 for children 3-12. Members and kids 2 & under, free.

IMAX feature-length “The Polar Express”: $11.50 for adults; $10.50 for seniors; and $9.50 for kids 3-12.   Members save $1.

IMAX feature-length film “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”: $15 adults, youths & seniors; and $12.50 children (3-12).

For more information about Maritime Aquarium offerings in December, or to reserve tickets or to purchase a membership for yourself or as a gift, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to