VISIT & explore

Illumination: coming this holiday season

From November 22 to January 4, Illumination offers a holiday experience far beyond traditional twinkle lights, engaging your senses with dazzling projections, trees that respond to your touch and voice, and vivid, electric colors throughout.
Combining cutting-edge technology with the beautiful, wooded landscapes of the Arboretum, Illumination is not your typical holiday light show. The first experience of its kind in the Chicago area, Illumination guides you along a mile-long, paved trail winding around the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake and down the Conifer Walk.
As you walk, you’ll be captivated by surprising and immersive light experiences along the way:
  • Watch as projection technology takes you on a drive” down a winter highway, as the scenery flies by on a majestic tableau of 50-foot tall evergreens.
  • Immerse yourself in the Tinsel Colonnade, as you’re showered with a cascade of delicate strands of iridescent, color-changing LEDs and the tinkle of bell strings.
  • Chat and sing with the Harmony Trees, majestic black walnuts bathed from all sides in vivid, saturated light, that respond to your voice with shifting color and movement.
  • Meet the friendly Personalitrees, where you control the experience. Wave your hands over a sensor to change the colors and patterns of the trees, or peer into a camera and see an image of your face projected 30 feet high on the pines.
  • Hug a woodsy-fresh evergreen and see how the grove around you changes in a playground of color, pattern and motion.
  • Warm up next to fire pits while enjoying hot cocoa, s’mores, and other delights.
  • Visit the Enchanted Railroad and stop in to browse the holiday wares at The Arboretum Store.
“The unique dimensional lights, vibrant colors, and interactive elements in Illumination will amplify the beauty of our collection, encouraging visitors to see trees in an unexpected way,” said Susan Wagner, Vice President of Education and Information. “We hope that Illumination will become a wintertime destination for years to come.”
Built in partnership with top lighting designers Lightswitch, Illumination features energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly lighting technologies such as LED and arc lighting. This lighting provides beautiful, powerful color while consuming only half the power of traditional incandescent lighting,
This winter, start a new holiday tradition at The Morton Arboretum and bring friends and family along to see trees in a different light!
Event dates and ticket prices
Illumination will be open Tuesday through Sunday, November 22 to January 4 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. including November 25 and December 23 and 30. The event will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Event tickets go on sale October 1. For Arboretum members, prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children 2 to 17 years old, and free for children under 2. Nonmember ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for children 2 to 17 years old, and free for children under 2.
Volunteers needed
Illumination will be the largest event to date hosted by the Arboretum and hundreds of volunteers are needed to ensure its success. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, experience Illumination from a unique perspective, and support the mission of the Arboretum. Interested in volunteering? Complete our online volunteer application.
Illumination is presented in part by ComEd and BMO Harris Bank.