New Aurora planetarium show & Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D light up the State Museum this Holiday Season

November 10, 2023

Plus, kick off the holidays and explore the museum after-hours during its Holiday Planetarium Lighting on Nov. 30

This holiday season, guests are invited to explore the beauty of the Northern Lights in a brand-new planetarium experience, see the returning holiday favorite, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D, in the museum’s 4D theater and enjoy special events and shopping opportunities at the South Carolina State Museum.

Debuting Saturday, November 11, Áróra is an immersive cinematic journey which takes guests across remote Icelandic landscapes and into space to find and understand the mystical, eerie displays of color known as the aurora borealis.

“This is an exciting opportunity to witness the beauty of the Northern Lights, which is very rarely seen as far south as South Carolina,” said State Museum Planetarium Manager, Liz Klimek. “This show allows us to illustrate their amazing beauty in 4K resolution across our 55ft dome, as well as explore the science behind why they appear.”

This award-winning show created by some of Iceland’s best-known scientists, writers, photographers and musicians not only showcases the beauty of the aurora above Earth and other planets, but also highlights how these colorful lights have been incorporated into folktales and mythology.

Also lighting up the museum this holiday season, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D, returns with visually brilliant, high definition 3-D and immersive effects such as wind and snow! Showing November 11 through December 31, 2023 in the museum’s 4D theater, this 10-minute show features the same stop motion animation as the beloved television classic. When young Rudolph is teased for his red nose and runs away from Christmastown, he sets off on a series of adventures, meets new friends Hermey the Elf and Yukon Cornelius along the way, and escapes the clutches of the Abominable Snow Monster.

Guests are also invited to explore the museum after-hours during the Holiday Planetarium Lighting on Thursday, November 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. In addition to extended hours, this special evening, sponsored by Cool Care, will feature holiday shows in the museum’s 4D theater and planetarium, extra shopping time in the Cotton Mill Exchange, children’s holiday crafts, night sky observing (weather permitting) and an opportunity to meet Santa. At the end of the evening, the museum will officially ‘light’ the planetarium dome for the holiday with the help of our partners at Ambient Media: Event Lighting, Sound and Displays. The dome will light up every night after dark throughout December.

Santa Claus will also be visiting the State Museum on Santa Saturdays in December. He will be on hand to hear holiday wishes and take photos with guests on December 2, 9, 16 and 23rd from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Guests are welcome to take pictures with Santa with their own personal phones or cameras at no extra charge.

Full List of Shows and Events This Holiday Season



Showing November 11 through February 29, 2024

Experience the beauty of the Northern Lights in this immersive cinematic journey that takes guests across Iceland and into space to explore these mysterious lights. Witness the beauty of the aurora borealis in 4K resolution, see how these lights are visible on other planets and moons, and learn how communities across the world have incorporated the aurora into their folktales and mythology.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D

Showing November 11 through December 31

Enjoy the classic stop-motion animated story that has charmed audiences for generations with added 3D visuals and interactive effects. Join Rudolph, Hermey the Elf and their friends on this epic adventure. This 10-minute 4D experience will be showing daily through December 31 in the Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson, Jr 4D Theater.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer © & ® or ™ The Rudolph Co., L.P. All elements under license to Character Arts, LLC. All rights reserved.


Accessibility Mornings

Saturday, November 11 and December 9 from 9– 11 a.m.

The museum invites its guests who are neurodiverse, autistic or have other disabilities to experience the museum at their own pace. This monthly program provides free access to the museum and other special activities, including sensory-friendly showings in the museum’s planetarium and 4D theater and meet-and greets with beloved literary characters, with The Very Hungry Caterpillar visiting on Nov. 11 and Santa visiting on Dec. 9. Online pre-registration is encouraged at

Member Discount Days

Saturday, November 18 and December 16

Members can enjoy an extra 10% off purchases, for a total of 20% off, in the museum store, The Cotton Mill Exchange.

Holiday Planetarium Lighting

Thursday, November 30 from 4 – 7 p.m.

The museum will offer extended hours with evening 4-D and planetarium showtimes, extra shopping time in the Cotton Mill Exchange, a craft activity, night sky observing (weather permitting) and more during this special event sponsored by Cool Care. At the end of the evening, guests will be invited outside to enjoy the “lighting” of the 55ft planetarium dome as it transforms into a giant snow globe.

Santa Saturdays                     

Saturday, December 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Santa Claus will make a special visit to the museum to see children and families and hear their wishes for the holiday season.

Member Holiday Party

Fri., Dec. 15, from 6 – 9 p.m.

State Museum members are invited to an exclusive holiday PJ party, sponsored by Cool Care, featuring showings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D, a planetarium experience, hands-on crafts and a Best PJs Contest.

General admission to the South Carolina State Museum is $8.95 for adults; $7.95 for Seniors; $6.95 for children; infants 2 and under are free. Planetarium experiences and 4-D shows are an additional charge. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from Noon – 5 p.m. The museum is closed November 22 and 23 for Thanksgiving and December 24 and 25 for Christmas.


About the South Carolina State Museum

Over the past 35 years, the South Carolina State Museum has been committed to collecting, preserving and showcasing the rich culture, art, natural history, technology and innovation of the Palmetto State. Through a comprehensive collection of over 1.1 million objects and four floors of stimulating exhibitions and displays housed within the historic Columbia Mills Building, the State Museum provides educational environments that entertain, inspire and enrich the lives of millions of visitors and students from across South Carolina. For more information about the museum, visit