Located at Pier 59 in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Aquarium is the home of thousands of marine animals, including jellyfish, sea otters, dogfish, and sea stars that you can even touch. But have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at this venerable Seattle venue? The Aquarium features family fun year-round – including educational programs that provide detailed information about the care of the animals who share their lives there. From Sea Otter Awareness Weekend to the Diving Santa and from Halloween to the Winter Fishtival, there’s an event to delight every member of the family.
Sea Otter Awareness Weekend 
Seattle Aquarium
1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 386-4300

Date: Sept. 26 through Sept. 27, 2015 

Sea Otters are a keystone species that are the top predators in their ecosystems. The Seattle Aquarium’s Sea Otter Awareness Weekend provides educational opportunities to learn more about these fascinating animals – including why they’re so important and how they affect humans. The Seattle Aquarium invites you to join their marine biologists to learn about free-living sea otters as well as the the five northern sea otters who share their lives there. Learn about the otters’ enrichment, including their toys and species-specific environmental additions, their nutritional needs, and their behaviors, including the importance of holding hands and grooming and the training that they receive.

Halloween At The Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium
Date: Oct. 23 through Oct. 25, 2015

The Seattle Aquarium is an exciting and unexpected point of departure for your Halloween festivities. Don your costume and bring the entire family to celebrate some ghoulish fun with the aquarium’s residents and staff. Get your face painted like your favorite marine animal, watch master carver Russ Leno skillfully carve pumpkins on land – and watch the Aquarium’s divers carve them underwater, as well. After you’ve participated in the Aquarium’s activities, you can trick or treat on the waterfront at Waterfront Park and at local businesses.

Discover Science Weekend
Seattle Aquarium
Date: Nov. 7 through Nov. 8, 2015

If you share your home with an aspiring scientist – or you’d just like to know more about marine biology, the Aquarium’s Discover Science Weekend is not-to-miss. Discover Science, which features visiting scientists as well as the Aquarium’s own researchers, reveals the methodology behind marine research with interactive displays and engaging presentations. Learn about marine animals, weather systems, and remotely operated vehicles – and why research is being performed in oceans worldwide. The entire family can learn alongside marine scientists as they explore the wonders of the ocean – and those who live in it.

Related: America’s Top 5 Must Visit Aquariums

Diving Santa
Seattle Aquarium
Date: Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 28, 2015 through Dec. 21, 2015 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Santa traditionally travels by reindeer-drawn sleigh, but for three weeks before Christmas, he lands just long enough to make an unusual guest appearance at the Seattle Aquarium. During the Aquarium’s annual “Diving Santa” event, Santa dons diving attire and takes a dip in the water with some of the Aquarium’s animals. Bring your family to meet the Diving Santa and get an unforgettable holiday photo. Enjoy seasonal beverages at the Aquarium’s café – and during the weekends from November 28 until December 21, listen to holiday concerts from local artists.

Winter Fishtival
Seattle Aquarium
Date: Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 3, 2016

The Winter Fishtival ends the old year and rings in the new with interactive, educational activities for the entire family. The Fishtival is one of the Aquarium’s biggest annual events – and it’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the center’s animal residents. Join the Aquarium staff to learn about the care, feeding, and behavior of the animals who share their lives there. Through special talks and engaging hands-on activities, guests can learn about these animals, with different species and activities featured each day. Discover what daily life is like for puffins, plankton, marine mammals, rockfish, and tide pool animals.

Related: Best Petting Zoos In The Seattle Area

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.