Holiday ice rink

SAN FRANCISCO (November 7, 2018) – Starting Friday, November 16, visitors to the California Academy of Sciences can revel in the wonder of ‘Tis the Season for Science: Life on Ice, the museum’s annual holiday exhibit that explores the science behind the winter season. This year, the Academy’s outdoor holiday ice rink in the museum’s East Garden returns, inviting visitors to skate in the heart of Golden Gate Park. Inside the museum, the Academy’s annual exhibit will explore our planet’s polar regions—from the North Pole to the South Pole—and the animals that call them home. Interactive displays will educate visitors on the adaptations that allow polar bears, Antarctic penguins, and other polar-dwelling animals to survive and thrive in frozen ecosystems. Plus, the Snowman Theater, a suite of hands-on daily programs, and a dynamic line-up of live performances on select dates will return to delight visitors of all ages this holiday season. The Academy will be open 10 am – 3 pm on November 22 (Thanksgiving Day) and 11 am – 5 pm on December 25 (Christmas Day).

As the Academy transforms into a wintry wonderland, visitors can enjoy:

  • Outdoor snow flurries falling twice an hour

  • The “Snowman Theater”—an immersive digital dome shaped like a giant snowman playing Science of Snow, a 7-minute, family-friendly show that illustrates how snowflakes form

  • Life-size models of polar bears and Antarctic penguins that invite guests to learn about and examine these fascinating animals up close

  • A stage for special programs and live performances

  • A festive outdoor ice rink open daily this holiday season in the Academy’s East Garden! Skate session tickets are $10 per person (including skate rental) and do not include general admission to the museum. Sessions may be reserved in advance online or at the museum on the day of your visit; times are subject to availability. For more information on the Academy’s holiday ice rink, please visit:

This year, the Academy is excited to offer even more family-friendly opportunities to get on the ice. Join us for Sunday Skate Nights in Golden Gate Park on November 18 and 25 and December 2 and 9 from 5:30-8:30 pm in the Academy’s East Garden. Enjoy special after-hours access to the holiday ice rink, sip hot chocolate, decorate cookies and enjoy seasonal treats, and listen to festive winter tunes. For more information about Sunday Skate Nights in Golden Gate Park, visit Sunday Skate Night tickets are $15 per person/$10 for Academy members and include ice skating and skate rental. Entry-only for non-skaters is $5 per person/free for Academy members.

See below for a schedule of daily and special programs at the Academy during ‘Tis the Season for Science:


Daily at 11:00 am, Piazza

Find out why African and emperor penguins are perfectly suited for their ocean homes, from their tuxedo-like feathers to their super swimming skills. Waddle over and show us your best penguin bray! This interactive program is recommended for children 10 and under.


Monday-Friday at 10:15 am, Science Today Theater

Join us for an interactive storytelling experience that brings to life The Mitten, a book by Jan Brett based on a Ukrainian folktale.


Performances at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm on November 23-25, December 22-24, December 26-January 6

Live on the Academy’s Piazza stage, enjoy fun performances by musicians, cultural groups, and more on select dates this season. All performances are free with Academy admission.

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