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The Arboretum kicks off holiday season with Illumination on Nov. 20

Tall tree-like structures spreads intricate designs of light across the landscape
Crown of Light returns to this year's Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum.
November 9, 2020
The eighth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum kicks off the holiday season Nov. 20 as a reimagined driving experience with new displays, drive-up concessions and a customized music soundtrack—all enjoyed from the safety and comfort of one’s vehicle.
Through Jan. 3, 2021, guests will drive a roughly two-mile route to view 11 light displays, including six new features and five returning favorites. Specially curated music will be available on a dedicated radio station. In prior years, the exhibition was a one-mile walking path.
"Decisions about how to ensure staff and guest safety during Illumination had to be made earlier this year, when the status of the pandemic in winter was unknown," said Preston Bautista, Ph.D., Vice President of Learning and Engagement. "Transforming it into a driving experience also gave us the opportunity to create an innovative, new and expanded exhibition that can’t be seen anywhere else.” 
Prepackaged snacks and non-alcoholic beverage options, such as hot cocoa and Truffle Butter Popcorn, will be available at a drive-through concessions tent at the beginning of the exhibition.
Embracing the Arboretum’s mission and identity as The Champion of Trees, the reimagined exhibition will take guests on a journey past a variety of tree collections that begins with passage through the new Gateway to Illumination, a brilliant tunnel of light.
NEW Displays in 2020
  • Gateway to Illumination begins the experience with a drive through an awe-inspiring tunnel of light.
  • Frost Hill Fantasy meanders through a grove of LED reeds woven into the landscape, creating a dynamic vista.
  • Crabapple Lake Magic reimagines the previous Meadow Lake Magic by showcasing the natural beauty of the new location.
  • Winter Brilliance turns Crowley Marsh into the first of two laser light experiences.
  • Enchanted Grove provides a second spectacular array of laser planes of light beaming into the night sky.
  • Radiant Wonder is a grove of trees silhouetted by brilliant up-lighting, providing the final view of Illumination before exiting the exhibition.
Returning Favorites
  • Symphony Woods, an Illumination favorite, returns with its dramatic woodland lighting to the same location across from Meadow Lake.
  • Woodland Wonder moves to Frost Hill to offer an entrancing view of laser lights and mirror balls, hung lower to the ground for car-window viewing.
  • Crown of Light, created exclusively for The Morton Arboretum by Smithsonian-featured collaborative installation arts collective HYBYCOZO (pronounced Hee-Bee-Coh-Zoh), returns in 2020 in a new location near Crabapple Lake. 
  • Ornament Meadow, the reimagined Ornament Hill display, will feature more glowing ornaments in its new location across from Crabapple Lake.
  • Crystal Promenade, a grove of trees lit with beautiful chandeliers arching over the roadway, moves to  a new location.
New Dates and Hours
Also new this year, the exhibition will stay open later, until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and will be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas, in addition to New Years Eve and New Years Day as in previous years.
Ticket prices range from $29 to $49 per vehicle; a 15-person passenger van ranges from $54 to $64. Timed tickets for Illumination must be purchased in advance online at mortonarb.org/illumination or in person at the Arboretum Visitor Center in advance of arrival at Illumination. Tickets will not be sold on-site during the event.  
Illumination is built in partnership with noteworthy experiential lighting designers, Lightswitch, and production company Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC), and features energy-efficient, eco-friendly LED lighting. 
Illumination is generously supported by Invesco QQQ and ComEd.