Visit The Morton Arboretum in the new year for great indoor and outdoor events and programs to excite and inspire a love of nature.
In January, we welcome back the Enchanted Railroad, pulling into the Arboretum with a theme exploring and celebrating the four seasons and Husky Heroes, featuring a visit from sled dogs and the chance to see them in action. In February, visitors can enjoy us for Chocolate Weekend, with specialty chocolate vendors and the chance to buy artisanal treats. Winter also brings with it delectable dining offerings like the Winter Whiskey Dinner, including inspired dishes and whiskey pairings, our Valentine’s Day Dinner to share with someone special and a brand-new Mardi Gras Dinner to celebrate Fat Tuesday in style.
Winter is beautiful at the Arboretum, so enjoy nature with outdoor activities including guided forest therapy walks and moonlight hikes, or bring the family and hunt for gnomes in the Children’s Garden.
Looking ahead, the Arboretum welcomes Origami in the Garden, May 19 through October 22. This inventive exhibit features dozens of intricate large-scale metal sculptures based on the ancient Japanese art of paper folding placed throughout the Arboretum’s spectacular landscape.
A complete list of January and February Arboretum events and details is below. All information listed is subject to change. For the latest dates and times, visit mortonarb.org/events.
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
Runs through Monday, January 2,
$18-$22 for adults, $12-$14 for children, discounts apply for Arboretum members
Catch Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum before it closes for the season! Illumination is where lights and nature come together in amazing ways – see hundreds of LED lights bathe the trees around you in a ethereal, electric glow, watch as lights dance, synchronized to the music of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra during Symphony Woods and take in Illumination’s dramatic new grand finale as beams of light cross over one another and extend into the night sky.
Friday, January 13 through Sunday, February 19
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Free with Arboretum admission
The popular Enchanted Railroad pulls into The Morton Arboretum this January! Children and families can enjoy our intricate model railroad as it winds through a four-season display. Watch as more than 10 model trains run on a two-level, larger-than-life platform.
Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
See Siberian husky sled pulling, skijoring, and speed demonstrations. Visit with the dogs and sled team, inspect the equipment, and have your photo taken with the rig during this yearly event. Attendees are asked to please leave pets at home.
Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Rentals
Daily in January and February, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Visit mortonarb.org for pricing information
This winter embrace the snowy season and trek through the 1,700 acres of The Morton Arboretum’s winter wonderland. Seasonal rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes are available at the Visitor Center when this is more than four inches of snow on the ground. Visitors can also bring their own equipment.
Winter Whiskey Dinner
Saturday, January 21, 6 p.m.
Warm up this winter with whiskey in our beautiful Ginkgo Restaurant. Enjoy a delicious whiskey-inspired dinner paired with whiskey tastings. All guests receive a souvenir tasting glass.
Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Celebrate chocolate and its connection to the natural world at our annual expo. Visit, taste, and buy specialty chocolates and treats from a variety of vendors.
Sunday, February 12 or Tuesday, February 14, 6 p.m.
$105 per person
Celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with a delectable dinner overlooking the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake.
NEW! Mardi Gras Dinner
Tuesday, February 28, 6 p.m.
Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a New Orleans inspired menu overlooking beautiful Meadow Lake. Then dance the evening away with a live Zydeco music.
The Arboretum Store
Semi-Annual Clearance Sale
Daily, January 2 through January 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Shoppers can get great deals on holiday merchandise, home décor, clothing, books, jewelry, and more. Shop early for the best selection of merchandise at discounts of up to 60 percent. Members receive a 10 percent discount on top of sale prices. Membership card is required for member discount.
Children’s Garden Programs
Daily in January and February, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Join us in the Children's Garden for winter time fun. We'll set out activities to complement the day such as painting snow or building a fort. This self-guided hands-on activity is available weather-permitting.
Daily in January and February, 9:30 a.m. -4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
The animals may be hibernating, but we still have gnomes. Children and families are encouraged to find all of the gnomes hiding in the Children’s Garden in this drop-in activity.
Weekends in January and February, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Take a hike through the Children’s Garden to hunt for all of the hiding gnomes and then create a keepsake, light-up gnome home of your own using natural materials. This family program is appropriate for children of all ages. Tickets are available in the Visitor Center.
Valentines for the Birds
Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Celebrate your love for nature on Valentines Weekend in the Children’s Garden. We will make some tasty treats to hang on the trees for our favorite feathery friends in this self-guided hands-on discovery activity.
Family Programs and Classes
Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in January and February, 11-11:45 a.m.
Join us in the Sterling Morton Library for an interactive story time and fun. We’ll make a craft and then head out on the grounds for an adventure walk. This program is best suited for children ages 3 to 5, and an adult must accompany a child.
Winter Explorers (18-35 months)
Tuesdays, January 17 through February 7, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Join us for this four-week outdoor adventure among the trees. Kids will connect with nature in this sensory-based winter program. Each day we will hike, read stories, and make a nature-related craft. Adults will receive tips to continue exploration at home.
Winter Explorers (3-5 years)
Thursdays, January 19 through February 9, 9:30-11 a.m.
Join us for this four-week outdoor adventure among the trees. Kids will connect with nature in this sensory-based winter program. Each day we will hike, read stories, and make a nature -related craft. Adults will receive tips to continue exploration at home.
Saturday, February 25, 10-11:30 a.m. or 2-3:30 p.m.
$13, $7 per birdhouse
Learn about birds and decorate a wooden birdhouse to take home. Discover the perfect place for your bird house and explore some winter birds that live here at the Arboretum on a short walk through the woods.
Nature Rx: New Year’s Day Forest Therapy Walk
Sunday, January 1, 8-11 a.m.
Start the new year with a balanced frame of mind by connecting with nature. Experience the healing and wellness promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide on a trail at the Morton Arboretum as you awaken your senses and reconnect with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises. The walks will conclude with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail.
Wednesdays, January 11 through February 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. or Thursdays, January 12 through February 9, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
$19.00 per class, $85 for a series
Improve your health and well-being with yoga. We will practice poses, breathing and meditation in the tranquil setting of the Morton Arboretum.
Nature Rx: Forest Therapy Walks
Select Mondays, January 23 through March 20, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Select Saturdays, January 21 through March 25, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
$25 per class, $115 for a series
Experience the healing and wellness promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide on a trail at the Morton Arboretum as you awaken your senses and reconnect with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises. The walks will conclude with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail.
Winter Hike and Yoga
Wednesday, February 15, 6-7:30 p.m. or Thursday, February , 10-11:30 a.m.
Feel your best and focus on total body health and well-being with a short hike outdoors, followed by a warming indoor yoga class.
Full & New Moon Yoga
Full Moon: Thursday, January 12 or Friday, February 10, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
New Moon: Friday, January 27 or Monday, February 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
$19 per class
Explore your lunar energy while connecting the mind and body in this peaceful yoga class in honor of the full and new moons each month.
Winter Bird Walk
Saturdays, January 21 or February 18, 8-10:30 a.m.
Explore the winter landscape with an expert guide, learn to identify the birds that overwinter in Illinois, and discuss their behaviors and natural history. If you've always wanted to learn about birds and weren't sure where to start, this is the program for you.
Full Moon Winter Walk
Thursday, January 12, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. or Saturday, February 11, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Discover what happens at the Arboretum at night when no one is around. With the moon shining through the trees a winter walk reveals a captivating symphony of sounds, mysterious spaces, and wildlife on the move. During our hike, we will discuss night ecology, share stories of moon lore, and enjoy the magic of nature at night.
Winter Tree Walk
Saturday, January 28, 9-11:30 a.m. or Friday, February 24, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Discover the beauty of trees in winter and learn identification. Examine the forms and branching patterns of Illinois trees and stroll around the Arboretum to identify the twigs, bark, and buds of these majestic wonders with an Arboretum expert.
Cocoa in the Conifers
Saturday, February 4, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Join an Arboretum expert for a cup of hot cocoa and a winter stroll through the conifer collection. Admire the variety of textures and colors and learn interesting facts about the members of this incredibly diverse collection.
Learn about Nature
A Short History of Trees
Wednesday, January 18, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Trees are an indispensable part of America's history; they became houses, fences, ships, railroad ties, rifles, wagons, and planes. But trees have served more than just tangible purposes: they also became symbols of justice, liberty, and hope, and provided inspiration for poetry and literature. Enjoy a brief history of trees in America during this program.
Seed Saving Workshop
Saturday, January 21, 10 a.m.-noon
Learn how and why to save your own seeds. Watch demonstrations and get hands-on practice culling seeds from various edibles. Learn how to store them for future use and how to test the viability of seeds before planting.
Deciduous Trees in Winter
Sundays, January 22 through February 19, 1-4 p.m.
$44 per class, $188 for five-class session
Learn to identify trees without their leaves. Explore the winter identification of trees at the Arboretum and develop the skills to identify trees on your own using clues found in buds, fruits, leaf scars, bark, and branching patterns of winter trees. Different trees will be covered in each class; sign up individual classes or take all five sessions for a complete introduction to winter trees.
Latin Names of Plants and Animals
Sundays, January 22 and January 29, 10 a.m.-noon
Learn to understand the Latin names for plants and animals by relating them to English words. We will look at the common Latin and Greek words used for scientific names and the English words that share the same root.
Friday, January 27, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or Saturday, February 25, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Practice correct pruning techniques and learn which plants to prune now and more importantly, which to prune later. Known as “dormant” pruning, thoughtful removal of branches in winter is easy and encourages proper spring growth.
Designing a Contemplative Garden
Wednesdays, February 1 and February 8, 1-4 p.m.
Create a garden space that offers rest and renewal. In this class, we’ll identify visual cues that create places that nurture the spirit and invite us to sit, relax with a cup of tea, read, reflect, stretch, meditate or write. Draw inspiration from different meditative elements and examples of historic and monastic gardens to find the meditative garden styles that work for you, translate those elements into a working design, and discuss sustainable gardening principles that will create gardens that nurture the spirit and the environment.
Landscape Design Basics
Fridays, February 10 through March 3, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Begin the process of designing a home landscape with this class focused on getting started on a plan for your yard or for that troublesome bed. Learn design terminology and the application of various garden styles. You’ll prepare a scaled base map of your garden and create an inventory of your property.
Winter Landscape Trees
Saturday, February 11, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Learn to identify common trees that are highlights of the winter landscape. Discover trees commonly used in home landscapes and communities that have great bark, berries for the birds, evergreen leaves, or other features that provide winter interest. Learn about the characteristics, growth requirements and uses of these landscape superstars, and explore how they add interest and structure to your garden and community.
NEW! The Importance of Tree Sex
Wednesday, February 15, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Learn everything you wanted to know about tree sex and why it is important. It might have never crossed your mind but tree sex is quite extraordinary. They are deceptively simple organisms. They do not move. They do not have a nervous system. They have no specialized sensory organs. And yet, they are some of the most successful and important organisms in the world. Many of them manipulate insects, birds, and even mammals to do their bidding. They can live for centuries and can produce a phenomenal number of offspring. Most individuals are trisexual and most species are known to hybridize with trees of other species.
NEW! Backyard Chickens 101: Chicken-Keeping
Saturday, February 18, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Learn the essential skills and knowledge for raising happy, healthy backyard chickens. Whether you’re exploring the possibility of chicken-keeping or already have your own birds, join local chicken expert Jen Murtoff to find out about best practices for raising chicks, caring for adult birds, and keeping your neighbors happy.
NEW! Backyard Chickens 102: Chicken Coop Basics
Saturday, February 18, 1-3:30 pm
Learn how to build a safe and comfortable home for your hens. Get the scoop on the basic needs of your backyard birds from a local chicken expert. See examples of coop styles, and learn the nuts and bolts of building your own, including the essential components of a coop, things to avoid when choosing construction materials, and important construction tips. Students should have basic knowledge of chicken keeping.
Beginner’s Nature Drawing Workshop: Graphite
Saturday, January 28 or Sunday, January 29, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Spend a day learning the basics and create a drawing of winter foliage using graphite, all while enjoying light refreshments.
Linoleum Block Printing Workshop
Saturdays, February 11 and March 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Learn to create your own unique collection of linoleum block prints. We will use specimens collected from the ground of The Morton Arboretum for inspiration, then create one or two original designs using linoleum. No art experience is necessary.
Botanical Art with Pen & Ink
Tuesdays, February 21 through March 14, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Using pen and ink, you will learn to balance and manipulate black and white elements while creating the illusion of value, depth, and texture in your botanical illustration. You will use traditional quill pens as well as mechanical pens.
Out of the Box: You and Your New Camera
Saturday, January 28, 2016, 8- 11 a.m.
Learn the basics of how to use your new camera. You will be introduced to focus, exposure, histograms, and how to take a picture in the field on point and shoot cameras as well as digital SLRs.
Wednesdays, February 1 through February 15, 6:30-9 p.m.
Compose dramatic photographs of water in its many forms in this nature photography class for intermediate and advanced photographers. Capture fresh snow on the prairie, icicles, an intricate snowflake, a frozen lake, steam from evaporation, or droplets of water hanging from bare winter branches. Instruction will cover close-ups, landscapes, and the use of black-and-white photography to highlight the textures of ice and snow.
Creative Effects Nature Photography Workshop
Saturday, February 11, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Add artistry to your nature photography with creative effects, which put a new spin on nature photography. In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to try a variety of creative effects lenses to produce artistic shots of landscapes and up-close nature photography. Whether you have an iPhone or a DSLR, this workshop provides the chance to see nature through a different lens.
Basic Nature Photography
Thursdays, February 23 and March 2, 6:30-9:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 25, 8-11 a.m.
Move beyond shooting in automatic and learn how to adjust your camera’s manual settings to get the shot you want. Learn basic composition and editing techniques and apply your new skills on the grounds of the Arboretum, where there’s no shortage of natural beauty to capture. The course includes classroom instruction, in-field shooting, and a critique session.
Saturday, February 25 or Saturday, March 25, 1-4 p.m.
This class will cover the best ways to use your smartphone to capture attractive images as well as provide recommendations for a selection of good starter apps for basic post-processing of photos.