As many of you may already know, I live in Glastonbury, CT. And I am always driving past the beautiful, (relatively) new Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School on Oak Street. In case you aren’t familiar with it, that’s the school that has the planetarium in it. Yeah, you read that right. A planetarium! Hey honey, how was school today? Great, mom! We took a tour of the solar system in our planetarium. What?! I just think that is the coolest thing ever. In fact, sometimes I would get pretty jealous that my son’s school doesn’t have something as amazing as its own planetarium. Planetarium envy. It’s a new thing in these parts 🙂
But then I learned the amazing news that the Glastonbury Planetarium is actually open to the public! I had no idea! They offer a variety of different educational and entertaining programs throughout the year including…wait for it…a special holiday show! So of course this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a visit.
Now through December 30th the Glastonbury Planetarium is running a special holiday presentation called “Let It Snow,” which features festive animation set to all your favorite classic holiday tunes from crooners like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Burl Ives, Chuck Berry, and more. The show also includes a tour of the night sky and a trip out to the edges of our solar system 🙂
It is recommended that you buy your tickets in advance online. That’s what we did and it was so easy. A few clicks and I was ready to print out our tickets. The price is really reasonable at just about $4 person.
We headed over for the opening night of “Let It Snow” last Thursday.
Confession time: I totally meant to stop by the school over the weekend and take some pictures of it in daylight (since it was dark by the time we arrived for the 6pm show), but I completely forgot. And since I’m still a little distressed by our run in with mall security from a few years back, I figured it wasn’t the brightest idea to stand in a school parking lot during school hours and take pictures with a big DSLR camera (yeah, that doesn’t look suspicious or anything…). So, I’ve only got these pictures from the evening.
On the plus side, the dome is so much more fun in the dark because it continuously changes colors. It’s kind of like a pre-show!
As I mentioned, the school is located on Oak Street, which is a road that runs between two major throughways in Glastonbury: Hebron Avenue and New London Turnpike. (For all you locals: a.k.a the street where the Stop & Shop is.) Actually, the school is right next to that Stop & Shop. You’ll see a sign out on the road, and thanks to the giant glowing dome, you won’t be able to miss it 🙂
There is plenty of parking in the school lot.
You’ll want to enter through the front doors.
There will be someone standing there to check your tickets (we printed them out; I forgot to ask if you could show them on a mobile device to get in, so to be safe just bring your hard copies). As I mentioned before, you’ll want to purchase your tickets online ahead of time. It makes everything super convenient and ensures that there will be tickets available before you head over there. If there are tickets still available, you can purchase them at the door with a credit card, but hey, who wants to take chances when you’ve promised your budding astronomers a tour of the night sky and some holiday cheer, right?!
Restrooms are located just down the main hallway if you need them. The Planetarium entrance is to your left.
It’s not a terribly large seating space, and there are no reserved seats, so you may want to get there a little early (especially if you are a big group) just to make sure your whole family can sit together. But the good news is, every seat is the best seat in the house since the show is on the ceiling 🙂
For obvious reasons, I don’t have any pictures of the actual program, but it starts off with a 20-25 minute interactive (and very kid-friendly) presentation about the objects we can see in our night sky at present, as well as some fun and educational facts about the movement of the Earth, the changing of the seasons, the formation of stars, etc. All of which is presented in a manner that makes it very accessible to preschool and elementary school age children (lots of audience participation!).
After that, the main event: “Let It Snow.” I have been trying for the last week to figure out how to put into words the experience of this whimsical sights and sounds show, and the best I can come up with is to imagine that you have been put inside a kaleidoscope filled with all your favorite holiday icons. Then set the whole thing to tunes like Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bell Rock and Run Run Rudolph. It was fun, festive and there was even a sing-a-long or two 🙂
That part of the presentation was about 20 or so minutes as well, so all in all it lasted about an hour. Just the right length for my antsy kiddos!
Afterwards, since the sky was clear, we were all invited outside to look through the Planetarium’s newest acquisition: a 16″ Meade Dobsonian telescope. Neat! (Please note that all the remaining times for the holiday show are during daylight hours, so chances are you won’t be looking through any telescopes after the show. But don’t despair! You can come back for one of their general programs, which–weather permitting–include a peek through the telescope. See the Momsense section for more details.)
So if you’ve got a space nut, a star-gazer, a holiday tune crooner or just a couple of kiddos who looooove a good spectacle, I highly recommend that you head over to the Glastonbury Planetarium for their “Let It Snow” program. It’s a holiday experience that’s “out of this world” 🙂
The Glastonbury Planetarium is located at the Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School.
95 Oak Street, Glastonbury, CT 06033 (right next to the Stop & Shop)
- Check their website for showtimes. They generally run shows from September-May.
- Remaining 2015 dates/time for the “Let It Snow” program are:
- Saturday 12/12 @2:30pm-3:30pm
- Saturday 12/19 @2:30pm-3:30pm
- Monday 12/28 @11:00am-12:00pm
- Tuesday 12/29 @11:00am-12:00pm
- Wednesday 12/30 @11:00am-12:00pm
Tickets are $4.25 each for all ages. Get tickets online here. If there are tickets available, you can buy them at the door with a credit card, but they highly encourage you to purchase tickets online ahead of time. There are no specific seat reservations; it’s first come, first served.
- Stroller Friendly: YES. We definitely saw some strollers in there.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: NO. No food or beverages allowed in the Planetarium.
- Restroom: YES.
- Baby Changing Station: Sorry! We rushed outside for the telescope viewing afterwards so I did not have a chance to check the inside of the restroom, but since it’s an elementary school I’m guessing they do not (I could totally be wrong though!).
- Parking: YES. Plenty of FREE parking
- Food for Sale: NO.
- Outside Food Allowed: NO.
- Cash Required: NO. It’s recommended that you purchase your tickets online ahead of time, but if you do buy them at the door you need to use a credit card.
- Dress Code: None.
- Age Recommendations: ALL AGES for this program. Although, be aware that very small children (toddlers) may get a bit antsy during the first part of the program, which is more instructional in nature. For the ongoing Planetarium programs, typically the Saturday matinee shows are the ones most geared for kids. More info below.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. Check their program schedule for details.
- Discounts: I don’t know of any.
- Birthday Party Venue: YES. You can come and use the cafeteria for pizza, cake, presents and then go into the dome for a private show. Cost is $240. You must supply the food and beverages. Usually on Saturdays. Recommended for ages 5+. More information here.
Additional info about the Glastonbury Planetarium’s regular programming:
- General viewing shows. These are usually on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the each month starting at 6pm. Ages for these usually are from 8 through adult. In the winter, they have telescopes available after the show to view night constellations, planets, etc. The telescope viewing are during the winter months and weather permitting.
- Saturday Matinees. They run Saturday Matinees for younger audiences. These shows are usually more appropriate for early age children. They are in the process of posting their winter season online (should be up in the next week or so), but they are scheduled to have Saturday Matinees on Jan 9, Feb 13, March 12, April 9, May 14 for 2016. All shows will start at 2:30.
- Shows will last anywhere from 60 – 90 minutes. (There is a question and answer period, so that may somewhat account for the time variance.)
- Music Concerts. Generally twice a year they have local artists come and perform live music and they choreograph the visuals overhead.
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