The Newport Aquarium has upheld its underwater Santa tradition for nearly 20 years. 


You may be used to seeing Santa up in the sky, but what about under the sea? At the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, Santa flips the script by trading in his signature sled for scuba gear.

For the past 19 years, Santa has made a stop at the aquarium to swim with the sharks, visit guests, and continue the one-of-a-kind holiday tradition. For the special Water Wonderland experience, the aquarium's Shark Ray Bay Theater is filled with bubbles that carry everyone's Christmas wishes to Scuba Santa. It's said that every time a bubble pops, someone's wish comes true!

Santa scuba dives in aquarium shark tank and greets three children on other side of glass
Credit: Courtesy of Newport Aquarium

Visitors can interact with the big man himself as he swims among sharks, rays, fish, and a very special loggerhead sea turtle named Denver. 

"Through some underwater magic, kids are able to talk with Scuba Santa and he can hear what they want for Christmas and respond in real time," Aquarium Sales and Marketing Director Matt Duda told Southern Living. "It really is a little bit of holiday magic that they never forget."

For even more seasonal fun, Penguin Palooza offers children the chance to write their top-secret requests on their own magic bubbles, while watching four species of penguins play in snow piles and splash in frigid water.

With holiday music playing, Santa's elves roaming the exhibits, and the aquarium fully decked out in the season's best lights and decor, the Newport Aquarium's Water Wonderland is a tradition worth making the trip for.   

Happy diving, Santa!