Thank you to Mystic Aquarium for providing my family and I with complimentary admission to their special event, Northern Lights. This review is completely my own.
So when I was invited to come check out their winter event, Northern Lights, I jumped at that chance. We love any reason to go down to Mystic!
Northern Lights opened on December 7, 2019 and will run through this weekend, from Thursday January 2 to Saturday January 4. The event starts at 6 p.m. and runs to 9 p.m. Tickets are just $15 per person. You will need a special event ticket for the Northern Lights show. Meaning if you are there during the daytime, you do have to leave between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and then reenter with a new ticket. Your ticket has a specific entry time (either 6 p.m., 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.).
So what exactly is this event? Well, the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a astronomical phenomena that affects the color of the lights in the night sky. While we don’t normally get to see the Northern Lights down here in Connecticut, they are usually visible in Alaska, Canada and Antarctica. At Mystic Aquarium, they have lit the outdoor pathways with the colors of auroro borealis. The light displays create a magical setting.
As soon as you walk in, you know you are in for something special.
The guided pathways are marked with a starting point, just before the beluga whale exhibit.
During Northern Lights, most of the outdoor exhibits are open. The penguins are asleep and their exhibit is closed; but you can visit the beluga whales, the seals and the sea lions. There is something completely special about the aquarium at night. We visited the aquarium during the summer for an evening event, and it was quite amazing. We found many of the outdoor animals become more active and fun to watch. This is also the case during our visit at Northern Lights. The beluga whale was pretty cheeky – and the sea lions were having a good time and making tons of noise!
The lighted pathways between exhibits are the main focal point during Northern Lights. We loved all the arctic animals! The colors were absolutely beautiful. It’s hard to capture it in pictures. Experiencing it was definitely something!
The weather is cold at night, and you’ll want to bundle up as you will be outside most of the time. We had big coats, winter boots, gloves, hats and scarves! Depending on your family, you can walk around as slowly as you would like. I have a five year old tornado, so we made our way around pretty quickly. You’ll find two separate tents (one just after the beluga whales and one at the end of the path) selling hot chocolate, cookies, and other food and drinks.
Once you reach the end of the path, they have a small exhibit (inside what I recall being the aviary) with special costumed characters the kids can meet and take pictures with. On the night we visited, we got to meet Elsa and Anna (Thursday). On Fridays, you can meet Father Christmas and on Saturdays, Petey the Penguin is there.
Just before the main building, we took a fun picture with Nemo! Everything was lit up with the amazing lights. It was really spectacular to see!
The indoor exhibits are closed during Northern Lights. When you enter the building, you will find that the exhibits are blocked off. They do have a new augmented reality exhibit that is open, and of course, we had to try that!
We enjoyed the heat inside for a few minutes, and even purchased some family photos that they took of us when we entered the aquarium, but soon we were back outside. We were now back in front of the main entrance. You can totally walk the path of the outdoor trails (guests are welcome to walk as many times as they want) and we asked our son if he wanted to go see the animals again; he was good. Five year olds…
Instead, we walked around the front area and found even more light displays. These make for some amazing family photos! We made sure to capture a few more special pictures with him.
We found an area with outdoor fireplaces where you can warm up. They also hold fireside chats with trainers during the evening. So if you have any burning questions, this is the spot!
Also at the front, you’ll find the Send a Wish Upon a Star station where you can write notes and wishes to the men and women serving overseas this holiday season. We took some time to send a little thank you.
The cafe is closed but the gift shop is open.
We somehow walked out with a new buddy… which I may or may not have used as bribery to get a few cute pictures in front of the Christmas tree before we left.
We spent about an hour and a half at Northern Lights. The light display was amazing and they did a really great job of creating this experience at Mystic Aquarium. Even though it was a bit cold, we enjoyed our evening.
The Northern Lights event runs for three more nights, from January 2 to January 4. If you are interested in experiencing this one-of-a-kind event, this is your last chance! Tickets are on sale online!
This about sums it up…
55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, Connecticut
Northern Lights Hours:
Northern Lights runs Thursdays through Saturdays, December 7, December 12-14, 19-21, 26-28 and January 2-4. The event starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for all visitors, 2 and up. No discounts are offered for this event.
- Stroller Friendly!
- Handicapped-accessible for children of all ages
- Mostly outdoors, dress warm!
- Indoor exhibits, and the penguin exhibit, are closed for this event.
- Food for purchase at pop-up tents located on pathways near seals and before the main building. Outside food not allowed. The cafe is closed.
- Restrooms are available near the seal exhibit and the cafe.
- Large parking lot with plenty of available spaces- Parking is free.
- Bring your camera – lots of great photo opportunities including costumed characters.