VISIT & explore


LISLE, Ill. (September 19, 2013) – This holiday season, The Morton Arboretum’s trees will be transformed into an interactive kaleidoscope of color and light during its first-ever winter lights event, Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. From November 22, 2013 to January 4, 2014, Illumination offers a holiday experience far beyond traditional twinkling lights, engaging the senses with dazzling projections, trees that respond to touch and sound, and vivid, electric colors throughout.
Combining cutting-edge light technology with the wooded landscape of the Arboretum, Illumination is not your typical holiday light show. The first event of its kind in the Chicago area, Illumination takes visitors on a mile-long, paved walking trail winding around the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake and down its Conifer Walk, with surprising light experiences around every turn.
“Illumination will be a spectacular lighting exhibition, showcasing the Arboretum’s trees with state of the art technology, vibrant colors, and interactive elements that reveal the awe-inspiring beauty and form of trees in winter,” said Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “It offers a whole new way to see, enjoy and appreciate trees at this magical time of year, especially after dark.”
Built in partnership with top experiential lighting designers Lightswitch, Illumination at The Morton Arboretum features energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly LED lighting. This lighting provides beautiful, powerful color while consuming only half the power of traditional incandescent lights.
ComEd and BMO Harris Bank are presenting sponsors of Illumination.
The Illumination Experience
Visitors will begin their journey with a view across Meadow Lake, where projection technology turns a majestic tableau of 50-foot tall evergreens into a giant screen for a series of moving images that trick the eyes.
Walking along Meadow Lake, guests will find a space filled with Shadow Lanterns, gently moving in the wind, creating shimmering patterns of light and shadow on visitors and trees.
Moving on, visitors will walk through the Tinsel Colonnade, where bright strands of colorful light glimmer brightly from the branches like tinsel on the trees.
As visitors head up the Conifer Walk, they will encounter Harmony Trees, black walnut trees bathed from all sides with vivid, saturated light that makes them appear to shift and move. On closer inspection, guests will discover the lights are responding to the sound of their voices and they’re invited to sing and call out to the trees to make them glow brighter.
Moving on to the top of Frost Hill – one of the highest points at the Arboretum – visitors are immersed in an incandescent glow as they gaze at a series of Crystal Chandeliers, a series of crystal chandeliers suspended within a grove of trees. From there, guests can turn to enjoy the grand vista of the iconic Four Columns sculptures, which appear to gently rotate.
Next, it’s on to the Island of Light, a tree island on which visitors control the projection of color and brightness of lights.
Continuing down the Conifer Walk, visitors encounter the Personalitrees, two different experiences that let visitors create their own light show on a tableau of towering evergreens. In one, guests can move their hands over a sensor to conduct a 30-foot-high display of falling snowflakes, flower petals or leaves projected onto a grove of evergreens. The other allows guests of any age to look into a camera and see their own image, in a giant projection on the trees.
Simply hugging a tree can bring joy to anyone, but what if the tree responded? Hug A Tree invites guests to interact directly with nature by hugging a tree, with a twist. Each of the three huggable trees controls the lighting of the entire grove in a different way. The first tree controls brightness, the second changes the color and the third affects how quickly the light shifts from tree to tree.
Walking back toward Arbor Court, pencil beams of light shift horizontally and vertically, penetrating the night sky and outlining the geometry of the Hedge Garden.
Along the walking trail, guests will be able to rest and refresh at three concession areas, including a make-your-own s’mores station, and outdoor fire pits to help visitors warm up by the firelight. Special event nights will include musical groups, children’s activities and more. An updated calendar of events will be available at mortonarb.org/illumination. In addition, visitors can stop by the Enchanted Railroad, an intricate model train traveling through an indoor winter wonderland at the Visitor Center. In its 12th year, the Enchanted Railroad is a popular holiday-themed display from the LGB Model Railroad Club.
Event Dates and Ticket Prices
Illumination will be open from November 22 through January 4. The event opens each night at 4:30 p.m. with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. Illumination will be closed on November 28 and December 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25.
Event tickets go on sale October 1 at mortonarb.org/illumination, and advance purchase is encouraged. General Admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children (ages 2-17). Member tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. The event is free for children under 2. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather as this is an outdoor experience.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world. Throughout natural landscapes are specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails and nine miles of roads. Other offerings include tree-focused events, activities and services for adults, children, professionals and communities. The Arboretum welcomes more than 800,000 visitors annually and serves 34,000 member households. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at www.mortonarb.org.