VISIT & explore

Illumination: The experience

Watch our Illumination video


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Illumination event program
Learn about the Illumination experience. 

Program includes a map of the path through the event and information about each stop along the way.  Illumination Event Program.pdf



Best Time to Arrive

We welcome guests at any time between 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with lights out on the exhibit at 9:30 p.m. We have noticed a rush of visitors in the first hour of the evening. You may benefit from postponing your entrance until 7:00 p.m or a bit later.


Illumination is a popular event, so plan for extra time to park and walk to the entrance.

If you need handicap parking, simply let the parking attendants see your parking placard. Also, you can drop off any member of your party in our Welcome Circle, and then proceed to the parking lots.

Prepare for the Outdoors

Dress for the season and for walking. When it is cold, layer your clothing so you can add or remove layers to maintain your comfort level. A hat and gloves are highly recommended.

How Much Time Does Illumination Require?

Illumination includes eleven stops along a mile-long pathway through the forest, over hills, and around a small lake. Some people enjoy it at a brisk pace. Others stop at each interactive elements, read the signs, take in the environment, warm up at one of the many fire pits,  and listen to the nearly 10 minutes of music at Symphony Woods.

Just like at any other museum exhibit, you will find the pace that pleases your group. (The weather will impact your preferences, too!)

Our advice is to resist the urge to rush. There are surprises scattered throughout the landscape, and one of the pleasures of any walk through the Arboretum is slowing down and sharing the stillness of our trees.

At a comfortable pace, and allowing time to sample the interactive stations, we recommend giving yourself between an hour and 90 minutes on the Illumination path. Of course, with food, shopping, and activities in the Visitor Center, you will find reasons to visit with us even longer. 

Week nights are special nights at Illumination

Tuesdays: Festive Sweater Night
Wednesdays: Champion Gear Night
Thursdays: Glow Wear Night

Dress for the theme on the night you visit. Show your apparel to the Membership Desk to receive a coupon for one free general admission and be entered into a prize drawing. There will be one winner from each night.

Share your apparel selfie on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram with #saytrees for a chance to win a $100 Morton Arboretum gift card. 


Illumination Concessions

Warming areas

Enjoy a cozy fire, a snack, or rest at one of three warming areas along the Illumination path.

Food and beverages

Menu varies by food service location.

Specialty Illumination Drinks

Nov 27-Dec 3: Chocolate Indulgence–Hot chocolate, Bird Dog Chocolate Whiskey, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles
Dec 4-11: Hot Apple Toddy–Warm apple cider with Bird Dog Apple Cider Whiskey
Dec 11-17: Salted Caramel Cocoa–Hot chocolate, Saint Brendan’s Salted Caramel Liqueur, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle
Dec 18-23: Hot Chocolate, Peppermint Bark Cocoa Liqueur, whipped cream, and crushed peppermint 
Dec 26-Jan 2: Red Hot Cider–Warm apple cider with Bird Dog Cinnamon Whiskey

APP Tour

For additional interpretive information about the experiences of Illumination, download the free Morton Arboretum Apple® app and launch the Illumination Tour.

Illumination: The Game

How bright are you? While at Illumination, let Glowman test your tree knowledge. Available as a free download on your iPhone® or iPad®. Download ARIS from the Apple® App Store®. Click “Allow” when the app asks whether you want ARIS to access your current location. Tap "Create Account." Add your player name and photo. Once you've arrived at Illumination, select "Illumination: The Game" from the list of nearby games, and start playing!

Glowing gifts

Illuminating treasures can be purchased at concessions areas and within The Arboretum Store.   

Live Music Entertainment

Enjoy live musical performances in the Ginkgo Room from 5:45 p.m.-9:00 p.m. and roaming carolers along the trail from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on select nights.


In January

Enchanted Railroad

Enjoy an intricate model railroad winding through a four-season display. January 15- February 21, 2016 LEARN MORE

Illumination Photos

Crystal ColonnadeCrystal Colonnade


Ornament Hill at Illumination


Illumination in Arbor CourtIllumination snowflakes alight Arbor Court.


Garden of Light at Illumination


Illumination Warming AreaWarming Area


The Arboretum thanks the following sponsors of the 2015 Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum



Illumination 2015 Presenting Sponsors--ComEd