As the new year dawns, visitors of all ages can discover a slate of seasonal special events, classes and programs that celebrate winter and its serene beauty at The Morton Arboretum.
In January, the more than 10 miniature trains of our Enchanted Railroad will pull back into the Arboretum. Also during the month, Husky Heroes come to meet Arboretum visitors. These trained sled dogs will demonstrate their skills as they follow a winding course. Specialty chocolate vendors come to the Arboretum in February for Chocolate Weekend. Visitors can purchase artisanal treats and learn about the connection between chocolate and trees.
Visitors can experience the tranquility this season brings with forest therapy walks and guided nature photography classes. When snow covers the ground, travel through woodlands via cross-country ski or snowshoe. Both are available for rent on-site.
A complete list of January and February events is below. For more information, visit mortonarb.org/events. All prices listed are for the general public and information is accurate as of the date of this release. We encourage media to check the website prior to publication as times and dates may change.
Daily in January and February, 7 a.m.–sunset
Free with Arboretum admission
There have been reports of troll sightings in the woods of The Morton Arboretum! Six colossal creatures and a hideout have all been spotted, but why have these giant trolls made their home at the Arboretum and what do they want to know about us? The work of noted Danish artist Thomas Dambo, Troll Hunt marks the first exhibition of its kind in the United States. Visitors can seek out these enormous trolls—one troll reclining on his back measures a monumental 60 feet long—created from reclaimed wood. Find them in and around our Visitor Center and hidden away in the forests.
Friday, January 18, through Sunday, February 24
10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday
9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Free with Arboretum admission
The Enchanted Railroad pulls into The Morton Arboretum this January. The intricate model railroad winds through magnificent scenery, including tree collections from around the world. The trains run at a child-friendly height to thrill even the littlest fan. The Arboretum offers times specifically for those with sensory sensitivities.
Saturday, January 26, and Sunday, January 27, 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 and learn aboutdog-sledding equipment. Visitors can even have their photo taken with the rig during this yearly event. Attendees are asked to please leave pets at home.
Dog Admission Day
Saturday, February 2, 7 a.m.–5 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission, $5 per dog
Hit the Arboretum trails with a furry friend. The fee includes a stylish Arboretum dog bandana.
Saturday, February 9, and Sunday, February 10, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Enjoy chocolate and explore its connection to the natural world at this annual event. Visit, taste and buy specialty chocolates and treats from a variety of vendors.
Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Rentals
Daily in January and February, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Visit mortonarb.org for pricing information.
Seasonal rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes are available at the Visitor Center. Visitors can also bring their own equipment. The opportunity to cross-country ski or snowshoe is available when there is more than four inches of snow on the ground.
Friday, January 11, or Saturday, January 12, 6 p.m.
Warm up this winter with whiskey in our beautiful Ginkgo Restaurant. Enjoy a delicious whiskey-inspired dinner paired with whiskey cocktails. During dinner, attendees can enjoy a talk from a whiskey expert. All guests receive a souvenir tasting glass. Visit mortonarb.org for pricing details.
Thursday, February 14, or Friday, February 15, 6 p.m.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with a delectable dinner overlooking the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake. Visit mortonarb.org for pricing details.
The Arboretum Store
Daily through January 20, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Shoppers can get great deals of up to 60 percent off on holiday merchandise, home décor, clothing, books, jewelry and more. Members receive a 10 percent discount on top of sale prices. A membership card is required for member discount. The sale continues through January 20 or while supplies last.
Mondays, January 7, through February 4, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Tuesdays, January 8, through February 5, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
$18 per class, $80 for the session
Participants can improve their health and well-being by practicing yoga poses, breathing and meditation.
Thursday, January 10, or Thursday, February 7, 7–9 p.m.
$18 per class
Participants will melt away tension through poses, breathing and meditation with this restorative yoga class.
Forest Therapy Walks (1 hour 45 min)
Mondays, January 14, February 4, and March 11, and Saturdays, January 12, February 16, and March 23, 9:30–11:15 a.m.
$20 per class
Participants will experience the healing and wellness-promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest when they take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide along a woodland trail. Walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises. At the conclusion of each program, participants will drink a tea made from edible plants foraged from the trail.
Winter Hike and Yoga
Wednesdays, January 16 and February 13, 6–7:30 p.m.
Thursdays, January 24 and February 21, 9:30–11 a.m.
$20 per class
Participants will focus on total body health and well-being with a short hike outdoors, followed by a warming indoor yoga class.
Be Well, Be Swell in 2019: Gardening and Wellness with Shawna Coronado
Monday, January 28, 7–9 p.m.
Explore the connection between gardening and wellness in this special workshop featuring inspiring garden photos, diet and nutrition tips, techniques for reducing chronic pain naturally and more with gardener and author Shawna Coronado. The program will showcase ideas to encourage a plant-based diet and improve health and yield great results in the garden.
Healthy, Hearty Soups
Thursday, January 31, 7–9 p.m.
This program will focus on the health benefits of making heart-healthy soups at home and share ideas for both meat-based and vegetarian options. Participants will enjoy some quick soup-making tips and demonstrations before making their own dry soup mix to take home.
Stretch and Sip
Thursday, February 21, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
For ultimate relaxation, participants can join in an hour of peaceful yoga stretches followed by sipping a beverage of their choice while looking out at the tranquil setting of The Morton Arboretum.
Children’s Garden Programs
Daily in January and February, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
The Children’s Garden is open for wintertime fun. Discover 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 the Children’s Garden still has gnomes. Children and families are encouraged to find all of the hidden gnomes during this drop-in activity.
Weekends in January and February, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
$10 per gnome globe
Create a keepsake gnome globe to celebrate the hidden gnomes in the Children’s Garden. This unique winter experience is fun for the whole family. Tickets for this drop-in program are available for purchase in the Visitor Center.
Youth and Family Programs
Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in January and February, 11–11:45 a.m.
$5 per child
This popular and interactive story time includes nature-based stories, crafts and an adventure walk in the Sterling Morton Library and throughout the grounds of The Morton Arboretum.
Little Trees Open House
Friday, January 11, 6–7:30 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Little Trees is an immersive outdoor nature-based learning experience for children ages 3 to 5 years old. This program uses the 1,700 acres of the Arboretum over the course of a 32-week curriculum that is designed to promote learning that encourages discovery and experimentation.
Winter Explorers (18–35 months)
Tuesdays, January 22, through February 12, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Winter Explorers (3–5 years)
Thursdays, January 24, through February 14, 9:30–11 a.m.
This four-week outdoor adventure among the trees will connect kids with nature. Each day will include hikes, stories and a nature-related craft. Adults will receive tips to continue exploration at home.
Saturday, February 23, or Sunday, February 24, 10–11:30 a.m. or 2–3:30 p.m.
Learn about birds and decorate a wooden birdhouse to take home. This workshop will also allow time to explore winter birds that live at the Arboretum during a short walk through the woods.
Adult Classes and Programs
Saturday, January 19, or Saturday, February 16, 8–10:30 a.m.
Search the woods, fields and edges of the Arboretum for birds. Participants will walk with an expert guide, who will help locate and identify species spotted along the way.
Early Spring Migration: Birds on the Move
Saturdays, February 16 through March 9, 8 a.m.–noon
Spring bird migration begins earlier than most people realize. Many species are already on the move in February, with waterfowl the first to make major migration moves. Mid-February marks a good time to search local open lands for overwintering species before they leave to find breeding territories further north. It’s a chance to see some of the less common owl species, hawks, longspurs and snow buntings.
Learn about Nature
Tree Stories Memory Lab
Tuesday, January 15, Wednesday, February 13, and Friday, February 22, 10 a.m.–noon
People can preserve their memories in the digital world by joining the Sterling Morton Library for the Tree Stories Memory Lab. During the lab time, participants can have their tree-related photographs, negatives, and slides scanned by a staff member. Additionally, those who attend will have the opportunity to participate in The Morton Arboretum's Tree-mendous Tree Stories, a platform that allows individuals from the Chicago area to tell their beloved tree stories. During the lab time, participants can receive assistance writing a story and uploading it to the website.
Seed Saving Workshop
Saturday, January 26, 9–11 a.m.
Learn how and why to save seeds and get tips on seed starting. This workshop will include demonstrations and hands-on practice saving seeds from both ornamental and edible plants. Participants will learn how to store seeds for future use and how to test the viability of seeds before planting. All who enroll will receive early admission to the Seed Swap taking place immediately following the workshop.
Saturday, January 26, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Browse a selection of seeds, and take home a variety to plant this spring. Bring leftover seed packets to share. All are welcome to attend, even those without seeds to give away. The Morton Arboretum will provide supplies such as envelopes, labels and pens. Experts will be on hand to help with gardening questions.
Seed Starting for the Edible Garden
Saturdays, January 26, or February 23, noon–2 p.m.
Start vegetables from seed in this hands-on workshop. Discover techniques and benefits of growing vegetables from seed started indoors. Explore lighting, soil types, containers, sowing schedules and plant selection with a gardening expert. Participants will learn to avoid common pitfalls and improve seed starting success, and each person will receive a tray of seeds started in class to take home.
Thursdays, February 7, through February 28, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Participants will join an experienced beekeeper and explore the history of beekeeping, bee anatomy, starting a colony and managing it through the year. Additionally, the program will cover equipment basics, harvesting honey and honey bee pests and diseases.
Sweet Valentine Fresh Floral Design
Saturday, February 9, 10 a.m.–noon, or Wednesday, February 13, 7–9 p.m.
Create a unique fresh floral design in a clear container surrounded by conversation heart candies. Learn how to arrange roses, carnations, wax flowers, pittosporum and other fresh materials in floral foam. Participants will also learn the secret to keeping the candies clean and dry in this hands-on class.
Nature at Night Hike
Thursdays, February 14, and February 28, 7–8:30 p.m.
Whether the moon is peeking through the clouds or the stars are shining freely, a winter evening reveals a captivating symphony of sounds and mysterious spaces. During the hike, an expert will discuss how animals are adapted for the night and how they prepare for winter.
Two sessions available. Session One: Friday, February 15 (online) and Saturday, February 23 (in-person) or Session Two: Thursday, February 28 (online) and Friday, March 8 (in-person).
In-person class meets 9–11:30 a.m.
Practice correct pruning techniques and learn which plants to prune now and, more important, which to prune later. Known as “dormant” pruning, thoughtful removal of branches in winter is easy and encourages proper spring growth. Participants will be asked to complete a short online component at their convenience before the in-person session. In-person class time will be spent in the field with an expert, who will demonstrate what to prune and how to do it. Participants will then have the opportunity to practice.
Cocoa in the Conifers
Saturday, February 16, 1–3 p.m.
Participants can join an Arboretum expert for a cup of hot cocoa and a winter stroll through the conifer collection. The program will showcase various species within this rich and diverse collection of trees.
A Cultural History of Wilderness
Thursdays, February 21, and February 28, 6:30–9 p.m.
What exactly is wilderness? Author and former wilderness National Park Ranger Cindy Crosby will look at how people have interacted with wilderness over time, and examine some ways we think about wilderness today, using the book Wilderness and the American Mind as a guide.
Sips with a Scientist: Fire and the Forest Floor
Thursday, February 21, 7–8:30 p.m.
Attendees are encouraged to grab a grown-up hot chocolate and get “the dirt” on soils from Arboretum soil ecologist Meghan Midgley, PhD. Midgley will discuss her latest research on the impacts of prescribed fire on local oak ecosystem soils. Prescribed fire is a common technique used to control invasive understory plants and promote oak regeneration in woods and savannas across Illinois, northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin. This program is open to adults 21 and older.
Design a Meditative Garden
Thursdays, February 21, and February 28, 7–9:30 p.m.
Create a garden space that offers rest and renewal. This class will cover visual cues that help to create spaces to nurture the spirit and encourage a meditative stroll and relaxation. Participants will draw inspiration from different meditative elements and examples of historic and monastic gardens, then translate those elements into a working design and discuss sustainable gardening principles that nurture the environment as well as the spirit.
Fairy Garden Design
Saturday, February 23, 10–11:30 a.m.
Capture the magic and whimsy of youth with a fairy garden. Perfect for small landscapes, tiny garden scenes are fun and practical. Learn the best plants and care techniques for creating miniature landscapes, examine designs ranging from a single container to a garden planting and watch a demonstration on how to create a garden. .
Beginner’s Nature Art Workshops: Winter Foliage in Graphite
Saturday, January 19, or Sunday, January 20, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
Beginning artists can tap into their creative side with an introductory workshop on nature art. The program will include expert-led instruction on how to draw winter foliage using graphite pencils as well as light refreshments in a no-pressure environment.
Drawing Eggs, Feathers, and Nests
Fridays, January 25 through February 15, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Capture a unique collection of eggs, feathers, and nests in colored pencil or graphite. The Arboretum’s collection of eggs comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, from the tiny speckled egg of a house wren to the large, creamy shell of a goose egg. Participants will pair eggs with nests and feathers to create their own ornithological still life.
Begin to Draw Nature
Saturdays, January 26, through February 23, 9 a.m.–noon
Learn the basics of drawing nature in this course designed for true beginners. This program will cover everything from how to hold a pencil to what kind of paper to use. Participants will have time to work on drawing skills in a no-pressure setting.
Behind the Collections: Art of the Sterling Morton Library
Saturday, February 2, 10 a.m.–noon
Discover the Sterling Morton Library's extensive botanical art collection in this program. Participants will learn about the rich history of key botanical pieces and gain insights into the styles and techniques of the artists. From naturalists James Audubon to May Watts, the program will feature a varied and meaningful glimpse into the world of botanical fine art. This program will appeal to art lovers, artists and nature enthusiasts.
Japanese Papermaking Workshop
Sunday, February 10, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Participants will learn to create unique handmade paper that can be used to make personalized notecards, given as a gift, or can stand alone as a finished piece of art. The workshop will teach attendees how to incorporate leaves and other organic material into their paper as well as the method of casting pulp into molds. Various papermaking techniques will be presented.
Stained Glass Stories of The Thornhill Mansion
Saturday, February 16, 10:30 a.m.–noon
This program will feature stories of the unusual stained glass windows that decorate the beautiful Founder’s Room at Thornhill Education Center. Participants will leave with a new appreciation for the craftsmanship and attention to details that made the library—the only remaining structural part of Joy Morton's original estate at Thornhill—such a treasure.
Black-and-White Nature Photography: In the Footsteps of Edward Weston
Five class meetings: Thursdays, January 17, through January 31, 6:30–9:30 p.m. and Saturdays, January 19 and January 26, 8–11 a.m.
Study the portfolio of renowned nature photographer Edward Weston, a giant of early and mid-20th- century photography, and learn to apply his approach under the guidance of expert instructors.The workshop will include discussion of the Westonian approach to photography. Instruction on black- and- white conversion will also be covered.
Out of the Box: You and Your New Camera
Saturday, January 19, 9 a.m.–noon
This program will familiarize attendees with the basic features and functions of a DSLR camera and give participants the opportunity to practice under the guidance of an experienced photographer.
Beginning Smartphone Photography
Saturday, January 26, noon–3 p.m.
Novice as well as more experienced photographers will discover techniques for taking great nature images with their smartphones. This class will cover the basics of using a smartphone to capture attractive images, provide tips and tricks and introduce class participants to a selection of starter apps for basic photo editing. No prior experience is required.
Basic Nature Photography
Saturdays, February 2, through February 23, 8–11 a.m.
Participants will learn how to move beyond shooting in automatic as well as how to adjust their camera’s manual settings to get the shot they want. The course will cover basic composition and editing techniques, and participants will have the opportunity to apply their new skills on the grounds of The Morton Arboretum, where there’s no shortage of natural beauty to capture. The course includes classroom instruction, in-field shooting and a critique session.
Natural Areas Conservation Training Program
Formerly known as the Woodland Stewardship Program, the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program is an in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. Classes are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle, and include online, classroom, and field components. The program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience.
Natural Areas Conservation Training Orientation
Tuesday, January 22, 6:30–8 p.m.
The Morton Arboretum is hosting a free orientation to the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program in ecological restoration. Attendees can learn about volunteer opportunities to help make a difference in the woodlands, prairies and wetlands in their communities and at the Arboretum. Those interested can also learn more about the program with a free online orientation. Learn more at mortonarb.org/conservation-training.
Woodland Ecology (Online)
Online component begins: Tuesday, January 29
Participants will learn the essentials of woodland ecology and the woodland management techniques necessary to maintain threatened woodland ecosystems. Woodlands and savannas once covered vast stretches of the Great Lakes region. Today, these ecosystems are threatened by encroaching development, invasive species and pollution. The program will discuss the principles of woodland ecology that inform restoration practice and feature sites that represent different stages of restoration. This class is held entirely online and can be taken as a component of the Natural Areas Conservation Training Program in natural areas management.
Volunteer Leadership (Online and In-person)
Online component begins: Thursday, January 31
In-person component: Saturday, February 9, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Participants will learn how to strengthen their skills in leading volunteers in natural areas management with this interactive primer for volunteer stewardship, activity planning, group dynamics, safety and volunteer empowerment. The program will cover how to plan and run a productive volunteer workday for activities such as invasive brush removal and seed collection that inspire volunteers to keep coming back. The course will also feature ways to bring volunteers together with social media, mailing lists, and in-person meetings.
Chicago Wilderness Burn Crew Training
Thursday, January 31, and Friday, February 1; or Thursday, February 14 and Friday, February 15; 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Or Saturday, February 16, and Sunday, February 17, 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Chicago Wilderness will offer three winter sessions of the Midwest Ecological Prescription Burn Crew Member Training class. This training covers the basics of such topics as fire behavior, controlled burn techniques, and smoke management. The objective is to provide participants with the background necessary to safely participate on the crew of a controlled burn.
Basic Plant ID (Online)
Online class begins: Wednesday, February 13
Get the botany basics and fundamentals needed to identify plants with the guidance of an Arboretum instructor.
Invasive Species (Online)
Online class begins: Wednesday, February 20
Learn to identify and manage the most common invasive plants in the Great Lakes region. Managing invasive plants is one of the most common restoration tasks. Learn to identify the characteristics of common invasive plants and describe their impacts on the landscape. The course will also cover invasive plant ecology as well as control methods best suited to each plant.
Tool Use for Natural Areas Management (Online and In-person)
Online component begins: Tuesday, February 26
In-person component meets: Tuesday, March 5, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. This course will cover how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines, and how to care for equipment.