The Vancouver Aquarium at Christmas

Every year from late November until early January the Vancouver Aquarium adopts a Christmas theme. Holiday decorations are put up in its entrance foyer, there are photo opportunities with Santa Claus and movies like the Polar Express and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer show in the venue’s 4D theatre.

Holiday Traditions 2017

Holiday Traditions at the Vancouver Aquarium takes place this year from November 24, 2017, until January 7, 2018. Some of the activities run daily for the entire season, while others only up until Christmas Eve.

Holiday Traditions’ activities include the following:

Scuba Santa at Vancouver Aquarium
Scuba Santa at the Vancouver Aquarium

Scuba Claus

A Christmas favourite at the Vancouver Aquarium is Scuba Claus.

In the lead-up to Christmas, Santa Claus makes an appearance at the Vancouver Aquarium in a giant fish tank. Crowds gather at set times, Santa’s flippered feet first appear, and then a fully-equipped underwater-diving St. Nicholas swims around with the fish and poses for photos. The entire event only lasts for a few minutes, but it’s very popular and a treat for children.

In 2017, Scuba Claus makes his appearance once or twice a day between November 24 and December 24.

To see when Scuba Claus goes for his swims, click Today’s Show Times.

TIP: Arrive at the Scuba Claus viewing area early to get a good spot to see from. It’s a popular event and fills up quickly. The best area for young kids is on the floor right at the front. Other good places include up the stairs or along the balcony at the top.

Vancouver Aquarium Scuba Santa
Santa Photo Opportunities at the Aquarium Entrance

Photos with Santa

Photos of Scuba Claus in the fish tank are hard to take because it’s dark and the glass reflects flashes. A dry Santa is available for photos at specific times at the entrance to the Aquarium, however, and a wet Scuba Claus can be seen for about a minute upstairs after he gets out of the water.

For the Aquarium’s Scuba Claus schedule, see Today’s Show Times.

TIP: If the dry Santa isn’t around for photos at the entrance as you first arrive, ask staff when he can next be expected.

Note: Scuba Claus and other photo opportunities with Santa only take place up to and including Christmas Eve. After December 24th he’s no longer around (as he’s either too busy delivering presents or recuperating from all his hard work).

Christmas 4D Movies

A fabulous attraction at the Vancouver Aquarium is the facility’s 4D theatre. Fish and other ocean-related shows run throughout the day year-round in other seasons, but from late November until early January the films are Christmas-y.

In 2017 feature films at the 4D theatre include the classic 2004 animation the Polar Express featuring the voice of Tom Hanks, and a new adaptation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

MOVIE TIP #1: The Polar Express usually only shows once per day in the morning, so if you want to see it you’ll need to be there early. Also, as it’s a popular show, get in the lineup well before show time.

MOVIE TIP #2: The Rudolph movie is simple, but cute. It’s definitely a kids’ movie, although it does feature a fairly scary Abominable Snowman that might not be appreciated by especially timid young folk.

Vancouver Aquarium Christmas Snow Globe
Christmas Snow Globe at the Vancouver Aquarium

Christmas-Themed Exhibits

Apart from Santa Claus (up until December 24th), the holiday films and a few Christmas trees, the rest of the Aquarium is pretty much as it is all year. There are a few exceptions, however, including a Christmas tree made out of ocean garbage debris. The electric eel display is also set up so that when the eel lets out an electric change a festive light shines, and a tank with jellyfish is made to look like a snow globe.

Other Aquarium Attractions

In addition to the various special Christmas features, visitors can enjoy all the Aquarium’s regular attractions. There are dolphin training sessions, sea otter shows and sea lions to see, all of which are outside. Indoors, where it’s warm and dry, there are numerous tanks with fish as well as educational talks about sharks and sea turtles.

Vancouver Aquarium Fish Tank and Crowds
An Educational Talk at the Shark Tank

Aquarium Hours and Admission

Regular hours of operation for the Vancouver Aquarium in winter are from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm seven days a week.

Extended Holiday Hours

Over the 2017 Christmas season extended hours run from Saturday, December 23, to Sunday, January 7, when the venue is open most days between 9:30 am and 6:00 pm. Exceptions include the following:

  • Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day: open from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.
  • Monday, December 25, 2017 (Christmas Day): open from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Source: Vancouver Best Places