5 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season with NCMNS!

For immediate release ‐ November 21, 2019

Contact: Jessica Wackes, 919.707.9850. Images available upon request

A dinosaur skull is wrapped in colorful lights - red, blue, orange. They glow. How pretty!

The holiday season is a time for excitement! Families and friends come together to express gratitude for relationships shared all year long. With holiday travel plans, coordinating schedules, finding gifts, and everything else (whew!), there’s a lot to think about.

One thing you can count on is an engaging, entertaining visit to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences! With TWO connected buildings downtown, there’s so much to do and learn here. In addition to what you can expect year-round like tons of eye-opening programs, countless interactive exhibits and more, we have lots of exciting Holiday Season happenings. Bring your loved ones and celebrate with us for a guaranteed day of fun!

1. Hidden in Plain Sight Experience

A giant sloth skeleton in our exhibits. It's big and age has turned the bones a deep brown.

Come adventure through some of the hidden highlights of NCMNS, the largest science museum in the southeast! Gain insights into the design of our gorgeous exhibits as your friendly guide shares some of our secret gems that are “Hidden in Plain Sight.”

If this is your first visit, you’ll see things almost everyone misses! If this is your 100th visit, you’ll be surprised by things you’ve never noticed before. There are two chances to join: December 12 and January 16. Don’t miss them! Register for each in this link.

2. Member Photos with Santa Claws

A family of 3 stands smiling around a dinosaur dressed in a red Santa Claus hat.

On December 14, our dinosaur Santa Claws will be making a jolly appearance! To show our appreciation for your support, Members will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa Claws among dinosaur exhibits in our Terror of the South gallery.

Members will also experience an awesome live science demonstration, learn to make “snow,” and even meet a polar bear from our mammalogy collection! More about the event.

Not a Member but still want to go? Join the Museum!

3. Self-Guided Tours

A young man stands tall in a dark room. His polo is blue like the sky. He is turned away from the camera facing a giant purple and green map of our earth's surface.

There is SO much to see at NCMNS, and sometimes visitors would rather explore this beautiful Museum alone than interact with a tour guide. We get it! That’s why we curated several tours to guide yourself through some of our favorite spots.

From staff favorites to bugs to dinosaur bones, take yourself on an adventure through the Museum at your own pace. Check out the self-guided experiences you can take here.

Want to see more staff favorites at our Museum? Read our articles featuring favorites in the Nature Exploration Center and the Nature Research Center!

4. Investigative Spaces

A mother and her two children use a big white microscope to share a moment of scientific wonder. A light is cast from the microscope to illuminate a specimen just out of the camera's view. How curious!

Where can you peer into a microscope, dress up in a handmade dinosaur costume, or see a sloth up close in the same day? At NCMNS! At our investigative spaces, we put learning and discovery in your hands!

  1. The Discovery Room: Engage your senses and your mind at the Discovery Room, an ideal area for intergenerational learning. Asking questions, engaging your imagination, and a curiosity about the natural world are always welcome!
  2. iLabs: There are three different Investigate Labs at NCMNS. There’s our Natural World iLab where you can engage in the process of science using real laboratory equipment and techniques. Our Visual World iLab is where half of the stations use augmented reality and you can experience impromptu electronics experiments and robotics demonstrations. Our Micro World iLab offers state-of-the-art scientific tools and techniques so visitors can explore topics at a microscopic level, like blood cells and bioluminescence! Use the hyperlinks above to learn times of operation.
  3. Living Conservatory: Immerse yourself in a Central American dry tropical forest filled with living plants and animals. Encounter butterflies, turtles, tarantulas, snakes and even a two-toed sloth. Discover a vanilla orchid, pineapple plant, cashew tree and more.
  4. Naturalist Center: The Naturalist Center provides visitors access to an extensive collection of specimens for individual research, student exploration, or for general interest. Collections include birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, plants, fossils, rocks, minerals and more.

5. First Night Raleigh

Sparklers glimmer different soft pastel colors from a sparkler. Pink, yellow, white and blue sparks shoot from the sparkler, held between the close-up fingers of a silhouette person.

Celebrate the New Year with NCMNS! If you’re participating in First Night Raleigh, come by NCMNS to experience the Museum! Join us for the special activities we’ve created to help you ring in 2020, including a chance to meet live animals including the endangered tenrec and blue-tongued skinks! The Nature Exploration Center (NEC) is open until 6 PM on December 31. Learn about NCMNS First Night activities here.

Bonus Activity

Did you know the Museum shows 3D movies on the big screen? NCMNS invites you to the WRAL 3D Theater in our NEC. Here, we present several different films and documentaries to choose from. Each screening is informational, inspiring, and often fits into educational curriculums worldwide. Tickets are $5, and there are discounts for Military, Members, and more. Learn about our current showings and times here.


Building this list was tough. Not only do we have seven expansive floors of interactive exhibits to explore in downtown Raleigh, we also offer incredible experiences through our satellite locations at Prairie Ridge Ecostation and NCMNS at Whiteville! And don’t forget about our accessibility features because we mean fun for everyone. There’s adventure at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, so #visitNCMNS today!

by Jess Wackes, PR & Marketing Coordinator
Photos by Karen Swain, Matt Jones and Christian Escobar.

For more information about our upcoming activities, conservation news and groundbreaking research, follow @NaturalSciences on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Join the conversation with #visitNCMNS.

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