Open 9 am - 7 pm (Late Close)

Activities to Warm Up Your Holiday Season at Shedd Aquarium

November 25, 2019

Sea otter Kiana in front of a sign reading Happy Holidays.

Come catch a break from the cold weather outside and visit with furry, rescued sea otters or come eye-to-eye with a 14.5 ft. green anaconda at Shedd Aquarium this holiday season! There is something for guests of all ages, whether it’s learning about the Arctic-dwelling beluga whales at a Family First Saturday, spending the night at the aquarium during a Winter Wonderland special-themed event or chilling out at an adults-only holiday evening event.


Join Shedd Aquarium and Santa Claus in December for a brand-new holiday offering! Santa at Shedd package reserves a private meet-and-greet with Kris Kringle himself at the aquarium’s Beluga Overlook location in the Oceanarium, accompanied by a professional photographer to take multiple digital photos of the experience. This package also includes exclusive offers like a viewing of Polar Express 4-D, reserved seating for an aquatic presentation, 10% off merchandise at Shedd stores and more.

  • December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • $19.95 per person ($14.95 for members) add-on to admission
Santa Claus sitting in a chair and waving at the camera.


At Asleep with the Fishes overnights, families or groups will see the aquarium like never before – at night! On Friday, Dec. 20, grab a cup of cocoa and create fond memories with loved ones at a special Winter Wonderland overnight! Explore how animals survive in chilly temperatures and discover how living things illuminate the icy depths with bioluminescence, fluorescence, and more!

  • Evening only: $40/person ($30 member)
  • Regular: $85/person ($70/member)
  • VIP (Caribbean Reef): $100/person ($85/member)
  • VIP (Underwater Beauty): $110/person ($95/member)
  • VIP (Wild Reef): $120/person ($100/member)
  • VIP (Oceanarium): $130/person ($110/member)


From 10-12 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, Shedd Aquarium takes families on a deep dive into the world of aquatic life! On Dec. 7, parents and kids of all ages will learn about the cold-loving beluga whales through hands-on activities, games, crafts and time behind the scenes with Shedd’s animal experts. This program includes full aquarium admission, so afterward, your family can continue to explore!

  • $49.99 per person
  • $29.99 for members


On Wednesday, Dec. 18 from 6-10 p.m., adults ages 21 and older are invited to chill out at Shedd After Hours. Attend a beluga chat to learn how these marine mammals thrive in icy waters. Feast on seasonal favorites and thaw out with a sugar cookie cocktail. Test your wits with Arctic aquatic trivia or don your favorite holiday sweater for a contest—both with prizes for the winners. For an additional upgrade of $15, experience a 30-minute tour to hear how otters, belugas and penguins adapt to their frigid environments, then pop behind the scenes to the marine mammals kitchen to learn how Shedd creates icy treats for these animals.

  • $24.95 per person ($19.95 for Chicago residents)
  • $14.95 for members
Two beluga whales peer at the viewer from just beneath the surface of the water.


Looking for the perfect gift for friends and family? Shedd Aquarium has plenty of ideas and experiences for the aquatic animal lover on your list.

  • Stop by Shedd’s store during a visit for animal plush toys and other cool Shedd swag.
  • Give the gift that keeps on giving all year round with the gift of an annual membership!
  • Consider booking a once-in-a-lifetime trip with Shedd Adventures for you and a friend or loved one!
  • Give the gift of an unforgettable animal encounter! Extraordinary Experiences provide a picture-perfect chance to come face-to-face with the animals that call Shedd home. See Shedd from the perspective of our animal care staff during a Behind-the-Scenes Tours; experience what it’s like to be a marine mammal trainer during Trainer for a Day; or dive deeper into Wild Reef and experience mealtime with the sharks during the Shark Feeding Tour.
  • Send your high-schooler on an unforgettable, educational trip! Shedd Aquarium offers Teen Science Expeditions at both the Apostle Islands and The Bahamas! On these expeditions, teens will get the opportunity to explore and learn about these beautiful locations and make friends and memories to last a lifetime.


Shedd Aquarium is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please call 312-939-2438 or visit Please note the following special hours:

  • Thursday, Nov. 28 – Closed
  • Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30 – 7 p.m. close
  • Wednesday, Dec. 4 – Free Day
  • Wednesday, Dec. 11 – 3 p.m. close
  • Sunday, Dec. 22 – 5 p.m. close
  • Tuesday, Dec. 24 – 3 p.m. close
  • Wednesday, Dec. 25 – Closed