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

Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum returns in November.
August 28, 2017

This November and December at The Morton Arboretum will include festive events, classes and fun family programs for all ages. On November 17, visitors will once again find themselves immersed in the one-of-a-kind holiday lights experience, Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum. This year’s Illumination includes colorful light displays, otherworldly effects and an opportunity to be part of the action. New this year, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the Illumination experience and sample wines during a special Holiday Wine Tasting.

Late autumn is a great time to prune trees, and classes such as Structural Pruning will take the guesswork out of the task for homeowners. This time also marks the return of the Arboretum’s Fermented Food Series. Participants can learn tips for making their own hard cider, yogurt, and other goodies in expert-led programs.

Holiday offerings including Breakfast with Santa, Supper with St. Nick, and a Gingerbread Tea Party return in December and give families a chance to have fun and celebrate the season together.

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 17, 2017 through January 1, 2018
Tickets on sale Monday, October 2
From November through January, the grounds of The Morton Arboretum will again glow with luminous, multi-colored LED light, mesmerizing projections, and trees that respond to touch and sound, as Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum makes its return. In its fifth year, Illumination has become a tradition and a can’t-miss holiday event that encourages visitors to see trees in a different light.  New this year is the chance to become part of the Illumination experience by donning interactive pendants that glow in sync with the sights as sounds of Illumination as visitors travel the trail. Pendants will be available for purchase online and on-site at Illumination.

Dog Admission Day
Saturday, November 4, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hit the Arboretum trails with your furry friend. Fee includes a stylish Arboretum bandana for your pup.

2017-2018 Chamber Concert Series - SOLD OUT
Sunday, November 5 and Sunday, December 3, 2:15-4:15 p.m.
$35 for individual concerts
$160 for the five-concert series, taking place through March 4
The season opens with Paul Galbraith, internationally renowned on the classical guitar. By exchanging the traditional guitar for the eight-string Brahms Guitar, which he helped to develop, Galbraith found the ideal instrument with which to interpret the challenging Classical transcriptions from his repertoire. In December, cellist Benedict Kloeckner will perform. This performer has brought his light and innovative musical work to such venues as Berlin's Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, the John F. Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. To learn more about other upcoming chamber concerts, visit

NEW! Holiday Wine Tasting
Thursday, November 30 and Friday, December 1, 8-11:30 p.m.
This new event includes an 8 p.m. entrance to Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum and a holiday wine tasting in the Ginkgo Restaurant. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample from more than 50 sparking and still wines perfect for the holiday season. The event also offers the opportunity to purchase wine on-site.

Holiday Favorites

Breakfast with Santa
Weekends in December through December 23
Thursday, December 21 and Friday, December 22
9-11 a.m.
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. Visit to learn more.

Gingerbread Tea Party 
Saturday, December 9, 10-11:30 a.m. or 12:30-2 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.

Supper with St. Nick
Thursday, December 21 or Friday, December 22, 5-7:30 p.m.
Make this holiday season special by joining us in the historic Thornhill Mansion for an elegant family supper. Enjoy a decadent buffet dinner and then head on over to the Founders Room for a special visit with Santa in front of the fireplace. Visit to learn more.

Holiday Swags
Thursday, November 30, 7-9:30 p.m. or Saturday, December 2, 1-3:30 p.m.
Just in time for the holiday season, attendees can learn how to incorporate evergreen branches and boughs into elegant holiday swags and get insider tips and tricks to creating these decorative pieces.

Make a Living Ornament
Thursday, December 7, 7-9 p.m.
Class participants will make an ornament using air plants and festive decorations. On-hand will be a mix of natural and reclaimed materials to create a personalized piece of holiday decor that’s classy, kitschy, or somewhere in-between.

Holiday Table Arrangement
Tuesday, December 19, 7-9 p.m.
Create a festive, long-lasting botanical arrangement to display in your home during the holidays, using a wintry mix of greenery and flowers. Attendees will learn design concepts and skills to apply to any arrangement, and take home a seasonal arrangement to brighten a table.

The Arboretum Store

Winter Clearance Sale
Friday, December 29 through Friday, January 19, 2018, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Discounts of 30 to 60 percent will be taken on select holiday merchandise including home decor, jewelry, books, desktop, apparel, and more. Arboretum members receive their 10 percent discount on top of sale pricing when they present their member card at checkout.


Children’s Garden Programs

Winter Play
Daily in November and December, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join us in the Children's Garden for wintertime fun. We'll set out activities to complement the day.   Activities 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.

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?

Totally Turkey 18-35 months
Wednesday, November 1 or Thursday, November 9, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Investigate the life of a wild turkey through stories, play, and hiking in this hands-on, sensory- based fall program. We’ll touch real turkey feathers and make a cozy turkey nest to take home.

Totally Turkey 3-5 years
Thursday, November 2, Tuesday, November 7, or Wednesday, November 8, 9:30-11 a.m.
Investigate the life of a wild turkey through stories, play, and hiking in this hands-on, sensory- based fall program. We’ll touch real turkey feathers and make a cozy turkey nest to take home.

Youth and Family Programs

Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in November and December, 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.

Gingerbread House Workshop
Saturday, November 18, 10-11:30 a.m. or 2-3:30 p.m.
$13 per person, $7 per gingerbread home
Take a winter walk, find out what sweet treats grow on trees, then decorate a keepsake, light-up, gingerbread house with natural materials to take home. This unique, crafty experience is fun for a pair or the whole family.

Wellness Programs

Arboretum Yoga 
Wednesdays, November 1 or December 13, 6:30-7:30 p.m., or Thursdays, November 16 or November 30, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
$19 per class
Improve your health and well-being with yoga. We will practice poses, breathing, and meditation in the tranquil setting of The Morton Arboretum.

Full & New Moon Yoga
Full Moon
Saturday, November 4 or Monday, December 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
New Moon
Saturday, November 18 or Monday, December 18, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
$19 per class
Connect the mind and body in this peaceful yoga class in honor of the full and new moons each month.

Meditation and Essential Oils  
Thursday, November 9 or Wednesday, December 6, 6-7 p.m.
$21 per class
Explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses with the use of plant-based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body.

NEW! Hotshots Workout 
Saturday, November 11, 11 a.m.-noon
Feel the burn as you work out and strength train with the Midewin Hotshots, a wildland fire-fighting crew. 

Botanical Art

Fall Pumpkin Arrangement
Thursday, November 16, 7-9 p.m. or Saturday, November 18, 1-3 p.m.
Fill a pumpkin with a seasonal bouquet. This delightful table arrangement will bring interest to your fall decor.

Learn about Nature

Structural Pruning
Saturday, November 4 or Thursday, November 16, 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, attendees will learn structural pruning techniques for specimen shrubs, small ornamental trees, and young trees with the goal of maintaining the plant’s natural character and creating a strong branch structure.

Landscaping Do’s and Don’ts
Saturday, November 4, 9 a.m.-noon
In this practical class for homeowners, attendees will get straightforward advice from a landscape designer and garden manager and learn the common mistakes homeowners make when taking on landscaping projects. The class will also cover tips on designing, purchasing, planting, and maintenance.

Life on the Forest Floor
Saturday, November 11, 9 a.m.-noon
Dig up some dirt, roll over rotting logs, poke at creepy crawlers, and find out how it all serves as the foundation for the woodland ecosystem. From feeding on decay to living in rot, organisms interact on the forest floor in weird and fascinating ways. Investigate death, decay, fire, and rebirth—all key elements to the woodland ecosystem.
The History of Wildflowers

Saturday, December 2, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Hear stories of how wildflowers have changed human history through literature, art, medicine, as love charms, and more. Brighten up a winter’s day as you enjoy images of these glorious blooms in all seasons that accompany the talk and leave with a new understanding of these iconic dwellers of woodland and prairie.

Guided Hikes and Tours

Glacial History Bike Tour
Sunday, November 5, noon-2 p.m.
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.  

Black Friday Guided Hike
Friday, November 24, 8-10 a.m.
Opt outside this Black Friday with a peaceful hike along the Arboretum’s quietest trails. Join this naturalist-led trek to discover favorite spots in the Arboretum. Learn a bit about the history of the grounds and discover what the plants and animals are up to as winter approaches.  The guided hike will end with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a light snack.

Green Living

Fermented Foods Series
Enjoy demos, tastings, and hands-on learning in the Fermented Foods Series at The Morton Arboretum. Fermented foods have many nutritional benefits and class participants can learn about the process of fermentation and why this ancient practice has found new life in today’s health and culinary circles.

Hard Cider
Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m.-noon
Attendees can learn to make their own hard cider with equipment lists and a step-by-step guide to making cider at home. Learn what types of apples to use to get the best results and understand how the process works while enjoying samples from local cider-makers.

Yogurt and Kefir
Saturday, October 28, 10 a.m.-noon
Kefir is a drinkable yogurt packed with probiotics that can be flavored with fruit, much like yogurt. Begin with a lesson about the process of fermentation before using starters to make your own yogurt and kefir. Attendees will leave with recipes and different ideas to continue at home. 

Family-Friendly Fermentation
Saturday, November 4, 10 a.m.-noon
Fermented foods are healthy, but will your kids eat them? With this class, attendees will learn to make fermented salsa, chutney, berries, ketchup, and more. These delicious recipes can be easily worked into your family’s diet.

Saturday, November 11, 10 a.m.-noon
Make a fermented classic—sauerkraut—and get creative with tasty and nutritious variations. While cabbage and other vegetables are naturally nutritious, the process of fermentation increases their health benefits to an even greater extent. Taste samples of creative variations and then make your own red-cabbage sauerkraut to take home.

Saturday, November 18, 10 a.m.-noon
Brew your own kombucha at home. Learn the history and science behind the popular fermented tea, kombucha, and how it can benefit your health. Get detailed, step-by-step instructions on how kombucha is made and learn how to start brewing at home. 

Woodland Stewardship Program
The Woodland Stewardship 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 Woodland Stewardship Program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience.

Tools for Management (Online and in-person)
Online component begins: Tuesday, November 7
In-person component meets: Tuesday, November 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. Get to know your tools, pick the right tools for the right tasks, and learn to use the different tools safely. We’ll discuss how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines, and how to care for equipment.

Woodland Ecology (Online only)
Online component begins: Thursday, November 16
Learn the essentials of woodland ecology and the vital 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. Discuss the principles of woodland ecology restoration practice, learn about sites that represent different stages of restoration, and explore the controversies surrounding management of these systems.

Restoration and Wildlife (In-person only)
Saturday, November 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Identify and apply short- and long-term restoration activities to enhance wildlife habitat. We will identify the places wildlife habitat exists in an example ecosystem, describe how wildlife impacts the ecosystem and how management and restoration could affect wildlife. We will discuss the specific biology and ecology of the plants, animals, and sites involved when making effective restoration plans and cover how to implement monitoring plans to assess the effectiveness of restoration. We will discuss and describe how trees, plants, and other species of concern exist as part of interdependent ecosystems.