VISIT & explore

Illumination: The experience

We are proud to announce that USA Today has named Illumination one of the 20 best public lights displays in the country!


Watch our Illumination video


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  



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. If it suits your schedule, you may benefit from postponing your entrance until 7:00 p.m. or so.


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. 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 a dozen stops along a mile-long pathway through the forest, over hills, and around a small lake. Some people enjoy it in at a brisk pace. Others stop at each interactive elements, read the signs, soak in the environment, warm up and one of the many fire pits,  and listen to the nearly 20 minutes of music at Symphony Woods.

Just like at any other museum exhibit, you will find the pace that pleases your group. (It is also likely that the weather will impact your preferences.)

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 occasionally music in the Visitor Center, you will find reasons to visit with us even longer. 


Illumination ConcessionsConcessions provide food, beverages, and glowing gifts.

Warming areas

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

Food and beverages

Outdoors (varies by location):

Hot chocolate, warm spiced cider, and various snacks including hot pretzels, pizza puffs, holiday themed cookies, fudge brownies, and rice krispy treats.

Indoors in the Ginkgo Restaurant:

Hot Beverages:  Hot chocolate & warm spiced cider
Other Beverages: Assorted beers, wines, and a wide array of water, soda, and juices
Meal Options: Chili, soups (two soups will be offered nightly), gourmet salads, both hot and cold sandwiches including paninis, burgers, and wraps, pizza by the slice, and macaroni & cheese.

(Please note - Select cordials will be available to add into your hot beverage for an additional charge.). 

Glowing gifts

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

Illumination live entertainment schedule 2014-2015

Entertainment in the Ginkgo Restaurant from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
*outdoor performances, performance times vary

Friday, December 19  Cirrus Falcon and Frozen Robins*

Saturday, December 20 28 Days and Frozen Robins*

Sunday, December 21 Rat Pack Jazz

Tuesday, December 23 Lights, Camera, Dancin' and Frozen Robins*

Friday, December 26 Blue Aura and Frozen Robins*

Saturday, December 27 Frank & Dave and Frozen Robins*

Sunday, December 28 Rat Pack Jazz

Friday, January 2 Blue Aura

Saturday, January 3 Frank & Dave

In January

Enchanted Railroad

Check out toy trains on a giant track at the Enchanted Railroad January 17- February 22, 2015.

Illumination Photos

Illumination in Arbor CourtIllumination snowflakes alight Arbor Court.

Illumination Tree HarmonyTree Harmony

Illumination Warming AreaWarming Area


Illumination Tinsel ColonnadeTinsel Colonnade

Thank you to our Illumination Presenting Sponsors:

Illumination at The Morton Arboretum sponsor logos