November-December Events, Programs and Classes at The Morton Arboretum

Illumination returns November 18.
August 25, 2016

This November and December at The Morton Arboretum will include festive events, wellness classes and fun family programs for everyone to enjoy. On November 18, we’re bringing back our amazing holiday lights experience, Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum. This year’s Illumination includes colorful light displays, larger-than-life projections and brand-new features that are sure to be a hit. Also in November, the Chamber Concert Series returns with intimate classical concerts held at the Arboretum’s historic Thornhill Education Center. Each concert is followed by a reception with the artists.. A holiday favorite, Breakfast with Santa is back in December.

Explore new classes this winter for adults and kids! Adults can learn to eat healthier with our new Fermented Foods Series, while kids in fifth through eighth grades can join the Tree Science Investigators program, a fun, new after-school program focused on trees and environmental science.

A complete list of November and December events is below. For more information, visit All prices listed are for the general public and information is accurate as of the date of this release, but we encourage media to check the website as times and dates may change.

November-December Highlights

Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
Friday, November 18, 2016 through January 2, 2017
Tickets on sale Monday, October 3
From November through January, the grounds of The Morton Arboretum will again glow with dazzling LED lights and trees that respond to touch and sound, as Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum makes its return. Billed as a “must-see destination” by the media, Illumination is where lights meet nature, harnessing technology to draw attention to the beauty of trees in the winter months. Immerse yourself in a symphony of music and light at our interactive experience of dazzling projections, sweeping lights, sparkling chandeliers, and lilting melodies on a mile-long walk through the Arboretum . This year’s event features brand-new experiences to dazzle and wow. Visitors can enjoy the new garden of light and “breathing” trees.

Dog Admission Day
Saturday, November 5, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hit the Arboretum trails with your furry friend. Fee includes a stylish Arboretum bandana for your pup.

2016-2017 Chamber Concert Series
Sunday, November 6 and Sunday, December 4, 2:15-4:15 p.m.
$30 for individual concerts
$140 for the five-concert series
At our opening concert, Trevor Stephenson will present masterpieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert on the Viennese-style fortepiano, an 18th century predecessor of the modern piano.
In December, step into the magical world of Irish and English legends are you are transported by three masterful Celtic harpists. The trio will present “A Winter Gift,” an engaging collection of tales and music from Celtic legend and folk stories, alongside literature, all woven together with beloved pieces of holiday music. Following each performance, music lovers can gather for a reception to meet the artists and fellow audience members in the Founder's Room, the original home library of the Arboretum's founder, Joy Morton. The concert series continues January 8, February 5 and March 5.

Holiday Favorites

Breakfast with Santa
Weekends in December through December 18
December 21-December 23
9-11 a.m.
$35 for children, $41 for adults
Enjoy a special breakfast buffet in The Morton Arboretum's scenic Ginkgo Restaurant and a visit from Santa! Children can interact with Santa and his helpers and leave with some sweet treats to take home.

Holiday Mosaic Windows
Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6, 10 a.m. to- 4 p.m.
Refresh your holiday decor with a stunning, holiday-themed hanging window mosaic. Use the glass-on-glass mosaic style, in which transparency, light, and color convey the same beauty and qualities of stained glass. Design and create your very own image on a framed clear sheet of glass. Learn how to score and cut glass with great detail allowing for intricate designs.

Thanksgiving Table Arrangement
Saturday, November 19, 1-4 p.m.
Make a small table arrangement using live and artificial botanicals ornamented with ribbon and jewels. This craft is perfect to display in your home throughout the holiday season.

Arboretum Uncorked: Holiday Painting 
Wednesday, November 30, 7-9 p.m.
Create a seasonal painting while you enjoy a glass of wine and goodies. Add a personalized touch to your collection of holiday décor by working step-by-step with a skilled instructor. Take home a festive piece of art to display in your home during the holidays.

Holiday Swags
Saturday, December 3, 1-4 p.m.
Just in time for the holiday season, find out how you can incorporate evergreen branches and boughs into elegant holiday swags.  Discover the methods used to create swags, and learn insider tips and tricks.

Gingerbread Tea Party
Saturday, December 10, 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m. and 1-2:30 p.m. 
Enjoy a cup of tea and sweet treats as we celebrate the holidays with a tea party. Discover which parts of trees and plants make the best teas, make your own tea bag, and decorate a gingerbread cookie to take home. This is a perfect outing for the whole family to enjoy together.

Children’s Garden Programs

Gnome Homes
Weekends in November and December, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
After taking a hike through the Children’s Garden to hunt for all of the hiding gnomes, create a keepsake, light-up gnome home of your own. This unique winter experience is fun for a pair or the whole family.

Winter Play
Daily in November and December, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join us in the Children's Garden for winter time fun! We'll set out activities to complement the day.   Activity may include painting snow or building a fort. Whatever it may be, you'll find all the tools you need to have some frosty fun. This self-guided hands on discovery activity is available daily in the Children’s Garden from

Gnome Hunt
Daily in November and December, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. 
The animals may be hibernating, but we still have gnomes. Can you find all of the gnomes hiding in the children's garden?

Youth and Family Programs

Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays November-January 11-11:45 a.m.
Join us in the Sterling Morton Library for this popular and interactive story time. We’ll read stories, make a craft and then head out on the grounds for an adventure walk. Themes change weekly. Class will not take place November 25.

Going on a Leaf Hunt -18-35 months
Wednesday, November 2 or Thursday, November 10, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
This sensory-based program will draw upon the changing season’s themes and fall shapes and colors. Crunchy leaves, tree seeds and a color hunt will be the inspiration for creating your very own work of art to take home.

Going on a Leaf Hunt -3-5 years
Thursday, November 3, Tuesday, November 8 or Wednesday, November 9, 9:30-11 a.m.
This sensory-based program will draw upon the changing season’s themes and fall shapes and colors. Crunchy leaves, tree seeds and a color hunt will be the inspiration for creating your very own work of art to take home.


Adult Yoga
Wednesdays, November 2 or December 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m. or Thursdays, November 17 or December 1, 10:30-11:30 a.m.   
Improve your health and well-being with yoga. We will practice poses, breathing and meditation in the tranquil setting of the Morton Arboretum. This class is for participants 18 or older.

Meditation and Essential Oils
Thursday, November 10 or Wednesday, December 7, 6-7 p.m.
Explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses with the use of plant-based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body in the tranquil setting of The Morton Arboretum. This class is for participants 18 or older.

Arboretum Running Tour
November 12, 8-10 a.m., or December 10, 8-9:30 a.m.
Strap on your running shoes for an informative running tour of the Arboretum. Learn about the natural surroundings with an experienced guide. In November, head into the wood for an 8K route on the east side. In December, check out a 5K route, also on the east side. Choose a route that’s right for you), and enjoy a leisurely paced run on paved roads. The tour will include stops along the way to learn about the Arboretum and the plants and animals that call it home. This tour is suitable for all levels of runners, with two guides to accommodate varying paces.

Botanical Art

DIY Watercolor Note Cards
Saturday, November 5, 1-4 p.m.
Make personalized note cards using watercolor. Our instructor will discuss types of paper, demonstrate brush strokes, and show you how to build color to create an image. Then let loose and let your creativity take over. Attendees will create 10 cards for any occasion.

Beginner’s Watercolor Workshop: Autumn Leaves
Saturday, November 19 or Sunday November 20, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Spend a morning learning the basics and of watercolor and create a watercolor painting of an autumn leaf. End the class with a stroll through the Nature Artists’ Guild Holiday Exhibit, which will showcase more than 150 works of art celebrating nature as well as artist demonstrations. The exhibit takes place November 19 and November 20. 

Visiting Artist Series: Expressive Flowers in Oils
Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Work with visiting artist Larkin Green and apply direct oil painting techniques to canvas to lend a sensual texture and convey movement to a botanical subject. The process of applying oils is inspired by sumi-e ink painting, where planning the canvas and palette ahead of time frees up the artist during the act of creating. This simplified approach to oil painting means that every stroke must be charged with meaning and useless detail eliminated. Ideally, when the last bit of bare canvas is covered, your painting is finished and no retouching will be necessary.

Bird Walks

Fall Bird Walk
Saturday, November 12, 8-10:30 a.m.
Search the woods, fields, and edges of the Arboretum for fall birds. Join us every third Saturday to learn about fall migrants and year-round resident birds with an expert guide. Please be prepared to spend most of the class outdoors; no prior experience in birding is necessary.

Sandhill Crane Fall Migration Outing
Saturday, November 12, 9:30 a.m.- 7:30 p.m.
Join us as we visit the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Refuge to observe and learn about the fall migration of the sandhill cranes.  Each fall, thousands of migrating cranes descend on the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife area. Imagine flocks of huge birds with 7-foot wingspans flying into Goose Pasture as you watch through a spotting scope on the viewing platform. We’ll spend the afternoon hiking the trails at local natural areas and then arrive at Jasper-Pulaski about an hour before sunset as the cranes begin to gather.

Build Your Own Birdhouse
Saturday, November 12, 1-4 p.m.
Attract birds to your backyard in this DIY workshop. Build a rustic birdhouse using reclaimed materials under the step-by-step guidance of a preservationist and woodworker.

Winter Bird Walk
Saturday, December 10, 8-10:30 a.m.
Search the woods, fields, and edges of the Arboretum for winter birds. Join us every third Saturday to learn about fall migrants and year-round resident birds with an expert guide. Please be prepared to spend most of the class outdoors; no prior experience in birding is necessary.

Learn about Nature

American Home Garden Design: 1830 to Present
Wednesday, November 2, 7-9 p.m.
Draw inspiration for your own garden from the history of home garden design. We'll look at how home garden design has changed since the Midwest was first settled. Learn more about design evolution, the rise of the suburban lawn movement, foundation plantings, cottage gardens, moon gardens and heirloom plants to name a few. We'll take the best of these design ideas and examine how they can be used in your own garden, no matter what age or style home you own.

Structural Pruning
Thursday, November 3, or Saturday, November 12, 9:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
Late autumn is one of the best times to prune for plant structure. The foliage has fallen, revealing the limbs and form of the plant. In this workshop you will learn structural pruning techniques for specimen shrubs, small ornamental trees, and young trees. Your goal is to maintain the plant's natural character and create a strong branch structure, eliminating future problems.

Four-Season Landscapes
Friday, November 4, 9 a.m.-noon
Make your outdoor space a show stopper, no matter the season. Learn how to design a landscape that entices you outdoors all year long. Learn about trees and shrubs that offer color, texture, and form throughout the cold winter months. Consider how fruits and seeds, bark and stems, and foliage of different plants can be combined to create a beautiful and balanced design and see examples of what works in winter on the Arboretum’s grounds.

Glacial History Bike Tour
Sunday, November 6, 10 a.m.-noon
Learn the geologic history of the Midwest as we cycle the roads of the Arboretum. The beautiful rolling terrain of hills, valleys and meadows reveal a story of glaciers and erosion over the past fifteen thousand years, and erratic rocks found along the way will connect us with lands far away and creatures long departed.  A bicycle is the ideal way to explore this varied glacial terrain.

8 Tools Every Gardener Needs
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30-8 p.m.
Find the perfect holiday gift for the gardener in your life. Having the right tool for the job makes a world of difference in the garden. Learn about  go-to gardening tools and and those gardeners can’t live without.

Wonderful Winter Containers
Saturday, November 19, 9-11 a.m.
Learn the principles of container design in this hands-on workshop. Want to add exciting containers to your deck, yard, or home? Creating beautiful containers is easy, when you have the right tips. Our Arboretum expert will use her experience with containers to introduce you to great plants for winter containers, and demonstrate the principles of container design and correct potting strategies.

Arboretum Uncorked: Salvage-Style Terrariums
Wednesday, November 30, 7-9 p.m.
Create a charming terrarium with found objects and curated plant selections. Learn how to create a terrarium from vintage objects for you to take home.

Reading the Tallgrass Prairie
Saturday, December 3, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Illinois is nicknamed "The Prairie State." Yet, what is a tallgrass prairie and why does prairie matter? Join our guide for lively discussion, beautiful prairie images, and readings of prairie prose and poetry from the 18th century to contemporary writers.

Green Living

NEW! Fermented Foods Series: Kombucha
Saturday, November 5, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Brew your own kombucha at home. Learn the history and science behind the popular fermented tea, kombucha, and how it can benefit your health. Watch a step-by-step demonstration of how kombucha is made, and about the fermentation agent used, called a scoby. Get detailed instructions and a supply list to start your own brew at home.

NEW! Fermented Foods Series: Pickled Vegetables
Saturday, November 12, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Learn how to lacto-ferment vegetables in a salt brine, creating an environment in which probiotics can flourish. Our instructor will explain the how and why of lacto-fermentation, including the necessary salt-to-water brine ratio, the proper fermenting environment, and knowing when your fermented veggies are ready. Bring a mason jar and prepare your own jar of brined vegetables to bring home and allow fermenting.

NEW! DIY Green Cleaning
Saturday, November 12, 1-2:30 p.m.
Save money and make your household more environmentally friendly with tried-and-true recipes for homemade cleaning products. We’ll discuss the benefits of homemade cleaning products, talk about why they work, and then make five sample recipes in class. Attendees can make their own laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and more.

NEW! DIY Organic Body Care
Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m.-noon or Thursday, December 8, 7-9 p.m.
Your skin, your largest organ, is the barrier for your body against pathogens, dirt, and foreign objects. It is also incredibly absorbent, taking in what is put on it and bringing it into the body and bloodstream. So what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it.Learn the basics of creating natural skincare remedies. Identify where your own skin could use a boost, then indulge in a local honey and clay mask to purify and detoxify your skin. Attendees will also learn how to create a customized toner to balance your skin’s pH, before sharing her secrets for mixing up basic products like lavender-scented deodorant and a moisturizing hand salve.