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Look Nature in the Eye at Shedd Aquarium this Winter

Shedd Offers Countless Opportunities to Explore the Aquatic World, and a New After-Hours Event

February 01, 2023

Three Magellanic penguins cross the Oceanarium's wooden walkway.

This winter, Shedd has numerous activities for connection with the natural world – including a new adults-only after-hours program, overnights for the whole family, and free workshops for teens including a new series to learn how to create their own at-home aquariums. Plus, see below for additional Illinois Resident Free Days dates in February and March.



¡Muévelo! Join Shedd for the inaugural Ritmo del Mar after-hours event to enjoy a night of music, cuisine, culture and mesmerizing animals with an aquatic backdrop like nowhere else in Chicago. All present are welcome to dance to the sounds of salsa, cumbia, merengue and Latin jazz, with special performances by Projecto 7 and Carpacho y Su Super Combo. ¡Será una noche inolvidable!

  • Cost: $39.95 per adult (21+), $19.95 per Chicago resident and $14.95 per member. Admission includes all aquarium exhibits and entertainment. Food and beverages are available for purchase.
  • Ages: Ages 21+; A photo ID is required for entry.
  • Date: Saturday, March 25, 7:00-11:00 p.m.



Penguin Encounters are an opportunity to meet one of the resident penguins at Shedd up close! During this 30-minute experience, guests will see the penguin explore, preen, play with toys, perch and gulp fish. Animal care specialists facilitating the encounter will also share more about the participating penguin's personal history and Shedd’s conservation work in South Africa with the African penguins (neither species of penguin at Shedd – rockhopper or Magellanic – is native to a cold environment!). With the caretaker’s guidance, guests will have a chance to touch the bird's dense, waterproof feathers, which allow them to “fly” underwater. There will be a time for photos with the penguin toward the end of the encounter.

  • Cost: $94.95 per adult (12+), $84.95 per child and $75.95 per member. Admission to the aquarium is included with the purchase of a penguin encounter.
  • Dates: Select dates Jan. – March 2023, at 8:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.


Shedd is offering additional free days every Tuesday through Thursday in February starting Tuesday, February 7, as well as Wednesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 2, for Illinois residents to enjoy free admission. With a valid ID, Illinois residents receive free general admission with advance ticket reservation. Free general admission also includes the option to view an animal spotlight in Abbott Oceanarium, featuring animals like Pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, penguins and California sea lions.

  • Cost: Free with a valid ID or proof of residency. Advanced reservations for free days are required and can be made online at
  • Dates: Every week starting Feb. 7 from Tuesday – Thursday and Wednesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 2, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Please note: A $3 transaction fee applies to all Illinois Resident Free Day tickets reserved online. This helps ensure access to as many neighbors as possible by validating orders.



Participants connect with animals, peers and Shedd staff during Shedd’s Teen Workshops! Learn about local and global conservation, the fascinating animals at Shedd and beyond and explore the careers that help keep Shedd afloat. Join us to discover new interests, engage in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) projects and investigate the aquatic world.

  • Cost: Free; registration required.
  • Ages/Grades: 14-18; Teens currently enrolled in high school or equivalent.

Upcoming Workshops

Wildlife Ambassadors – Penguins: Penguins are crucial animal ambassadors at Shedd. These charismatic birds, like Wellington, a rockhopper penguin who explored Shedd during the closure for COVID-19, help us spread the word about many conservation topics. For penguins, few topics are more important than restoring their native habitats, but other animals need their habitats restored, too. While we can’t all travel to Argentina to help restore penguin habitats, participants can join us to learn how Shedd Aquarium restores local amphibian habitats and meet some of our favorite animal ambassadors of all sizes.

  • Date: Saturday, Jan. 21, 1-3:30 p.m.

Wildlife Ambassadors – Sharks: Sustainable fishing is a critical practice for the protection and preservation of all aquatic life. The positive impact of this practice is significant for some of the ocean’s most famous predators: Sharks! Sharks act as mascots for less visible aquatic species by helping to showcase the benefits of this universally advantageous preservation effort. In addition to research related to sharks, Shedd has a research program dedicated to preserving queen conch. Join us to learn the surprising connection between these two very different animals and how research on sharks has helped us learn more about conch.

  • Date: Saturday, Feb. 25, 1-3:30 p.m.

Home Aquarium Workshop Series: For participants interested in caring for aquatic animals at home, this four-part workshop series will introduce the fundamentals of home aquarium care. This includes determining the right animals for an aquarium, creating an ideal habitat, acclimating animals to a new home and keeping the space healthy for all its living residents.

  • Dates: Begins Saturday, March 25, 1-3:30 p.m., additional dates can be found online.



Spend a night at Shedd, and learn what the resident animals, including sharks, turtles, dolphins and more, do after hours. Guests will get the chance to explore the open exhibit spaces throughout the evening, come face-to-face with animals, create aquatic crafts, complete a scavenger hunt, see an animal spotlight and watch a diver feed the animals in Caribbean Reef!

  • Cost: $85 per person ($70 for members), evening only $40 per person ($30 per member).
  • Ages: Overnights are designed for families and groups with children ages 5-12.
  • Dates:
    • Saturday, Feb. 11-Sunday, Feb. 12;
  • Friday, March 10-Saturday, March 11;
    • Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1; and more can be found on Shedd’s website

VISUALS: High-resolution b-roll and photos are available for download:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium