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January Events at The Morton Arboretum

People crouch toward the floor to look at a giant model railroad
The Enchanted Railroad returns to the Arboretum in January.
November 26, 2019

In the new year, find a slate of special events, classes and offerings for all ages at The Morton Arboretum. Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum continues daily through January 5. In January, 10 miniature trains of the Enchanted Railroad will pull back into the Arboretum. During this month, the Husky Heroes return to the Arboretum.

Visitors can enjoy the tranquility of this season at the Arboretum through evening hikes that explore nature when night falls, forest therapy walks, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing through the Arboretum’s extensive grounds. Equipment rental is available on-site.

A complete list of January events is below. 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.

January Highlights

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
Daily through Sunday, January 5, 4:30–9:30 p.m.
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum features a one-mile paved path amid immersive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Visitors can enjoy seasonal music, marvel at ever-changing, interactive lighting designs and warm up by a crackling fire with a cozy drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. Illumination will highlight the many gifts of trees: natural beauty, increased feelings of peace and calm, homes for wildlife and cleaner air for us to  breathe. This year’s event will debut a new route with a more spacious pathway as well as new experiences such as Tree Fascination, which mixes art and science to showcase the color and pattern of trees with video projection.

Enchanted Railroad
Saturday, January 17, through Monday, February 23
10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday
9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Included in Arboretum admission
The popular Enchanted Railroad pulls into The Morton Arboretum this January.  Children and families can experience trees and trains as they enjoy the intricate model railroad. Watch as more than 10 model trains wind through a two-level display of tree collections from around the world.

Husky Heroes
Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
See Siberian husky sled pulling, skijoring and speed demonstrations. Visitors can meet the dogs andtheir handlers, inspect the equipment and have photos taken with the rig during this yearly event.  Attendees are asked to please leave pets at home.

Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Rentals
Daily in January, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.–4 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday
Visit mortonarb.org for pricing information.
This winter embrace the snowy season and trek through 1,700 acres of The Morton Arboretum’s winter wonderland. Seasonal rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes are available at the Visitor Center,or visitors can 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.


Dining Events

Whiskey Dinner
Friday, January 31, or Saturday, February 1, 6 p.m.
Warm up this winter with whiskey in our beautiful Ginkgo Restaurant. Enjoy a delicious whiskey-inspired dinner paired with whiskey tastings.


The Arboretum Store

Semi-Annual Clearance Sale
Daily in January while supplies last, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Shoppers can get great deals on holiday merchandise, home décor, clothing, books, jewelry and more. Shop early for the best selection of merchandise at discounts of up to 60 percent. Members receive a 10 percent discount on top of sale prices. Membership card is required for member discount.

Children’s Garden Programs

Winter Explorers (18–35 months)
Tuesdays, January 21 through February 11, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Winter Explorers (3–5 years)
Thursdays, January 23 through February 13, 9:30–11 a.m.
This four-week outdoor adventure among the trees enables kids to connect with nature through hiking, stories and other activities. Adults will also receive tips on how to continue exploring on their own.

Gnome Hunt
Daily in January, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Included with Arboretum admission
The animals may be hibernating, but gnomes remain in the Children’s Garden. Children and families are encouraged to find all of the hidden gnomes in this drop-in activity.

Family Programs

Little Trees Open House
Friday, January 31, 6–7:30 p.m.
Little Trees is an immersive outdoor nature-based learning experience for children ages 3 to 5 years old.  Interested parents are encouraged to attend the open house to learn more about the program, which explores the 1,700 acres of the Arboretum to promote healthy development through play, discovery and experimentation over the course of a school year.

Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in January, 11–11:45 a.m.
Children will read stories, make a craft and then head out on the grounds for an adventure walk during this program held in the Sterling Morton Library.


Adult Classes and Programs

Wellness and Green Living

Arboretum Yoga
Mondays, January 13 through January 27, 9:30–10:30 a.m,. or Wednesdays, January 15 through January 29, 6–7 p.m.
$18 per class
Class attendees will practice poses, breathing and meditation in the tranquil setting of The Morton Arboretum. To allow for more flexibility with busy schedules, the Arboretum is no longer offering series enrollment. Instead,interested individuals can sign up for the sessions on the dates that work for them and collect a punch on an Arboretum punch card for each class attended. Participants will receive a free class for each five attended.

Forest Therapy Winter Walks
Monday, January 20, or Saturday, January 25, 9:30–11:30 a.m.
Forest Therapy Winter Walks highlight  the healing and wellness-promoting effects of shinrin-yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Attendees will take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide on an Arboretum trail, awakening their senses and reconnecting with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises. The program will conclude with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail. 

Meditation with Essential Oils
Thursday, January 23, 6–7 p.m.
This class will explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses and use plant-based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body.

Nondairy Cheese and Yogurt
Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m.–noon
Participants will learn to make nondairy cheeses and nut-based yogurts with creative mix-ins for a healthy, delicious treat. An expert will explain the how and why of nondairy cheese and yogurt and demonstrate step-by-step processes starting with fresh raw ingredients, such as almonds and cashews, to create a nondairy version of these fermented favorites. Participants will sample the end result and go home with recipes to make their own homemade yogurts and cheeses.

Botanical Art

Out of the Box: You and Your New Camera
Saturday, January 18, noon to 3 p.m.
Participants will learn the features and functions of their DSLR cameras and practice under the guidance of an experienced photographer.

Handmade Bookbinding Workshop
Tuesdays and Thursdays, January 21 through February 4, 6:30–9:30 p.m.
Participants will learn to make one-of-a-kind handbound books that can be given as a gift, displayed as art or used to hold photographs, sketches or journal entries. The class instructor will model different bookmaking techniques and book styles, including saddle stitch, accordion books with pockets, hardbound books and more. Each student will make a total of four books of various styles over the course of the program and receive personalized feedback. This class is appropriate for all experience levels.

Beginner’s Nature Art Workshops
Saturday, January 25, or Sunday, January 26, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
This introductory workshop on nature art will focus on drawing winter foliage using graphite pencils. Participants will learn basic strokes and how to use shading to add dimension.

Learn about Nature

Full Moon Troll Hike
Friday, January 10, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Under the light of a full moon, adults can hit the trail for a night of troll hunting. Attendees can enjoy a special opportunity to see the mysterious forest protectors under the light of a full moon. A guide will provide entertaining stories about the trolls’ origins and their message of conservation, full moon lore and what the trees and wildlife are up to during the long dark nights when no one else is around.

Winter Pruning (Online and In-person)
Online component begins Thursday, January 16
In-person class meets Thursday, January 23, 9:00–11:30 a.m.
Participants will practice correct pruning techniques and learn which plants to prune now and which to prune later. Known as “dormant” pruning, thoughtful removal of branches in winter is easy and encourages proper spring growth. Participants will 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.

Seed Swap
Saturday, January 18, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Included with Arboretum admission
Participants can browse a selection of seeds and take home a variety to plant this spring. People are welcome to bring their leftover seed packets or self-saved seeds to share. Experts will be on hand to help with gardening questions. Enjoy how-to gardening demonstrations throughout the swap. Supplies such as envelopes, labels and pens will be provided.

Seed Starting for the Edible Garden
Saturday, January 18, 9–11 a.m.
Participants will start vegetables from seed in this hands-on workshop and go home with a tray of seeds. The class will cover techniques and benefits of growing vegetables from seed started indoors as well as explore lighting, soil types, containers, sowing schedules and plant selection with a gardening expert. Participants will each receive a tray of seeds started in class that they can take home with them.

Field Study: Birds of Winter      
Saturdays, January 18 through February 1, 8–11:30 a.m.
This class will center on techniques for accurately identifying Illinois' winter birds, with the opportunity to spot species that remain in the area and meet migratory species that overwinter in the region. In addition to outdoor exploration, some class time will be spent indoors developing field identification skills; discussing, choosing, and using birding equipment; reviewing daily checklists; and learning calls and field identification marks. 

Bird Walk
Saturday, January 18, 8–10:30 a.m.
Participants will search the woods, fields and edges of the Arboretum for birds. An expert guide will help  locate and identify species spotted along the way. No prior experience is necessary.

Fireside Chat: Curating a Collection of the World’s Trees
Wednesday, January 22, 10–11:30 a.m.
Museum curators collect and care for artifacts and art pieces. For a curator of a tree museum, however, collecting looks a little different. The Morton Arboretum’s curator, Matt Lobdell, regularly heads out to remote places in search of rare tree seeds to bring back and grow on the Arboretum’s grounds.  During this talk in the Arboretum’s distinctive Founder’s Room at the Thornhill Education Center, Lobdell will discuss plant collecting past and present, why the Arboretum collects plants and the challenges and opportunities of curating a collection of trees and shrubs.

Natural Areas Conservation Training Program
The Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program provides in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. Classes are designed 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 (Online or In-person)
Tuesday, January 14, 6:30–8 p.m.
Attendees will receive information on the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program in ecological restoration, including how to help make a difference in the woodlands, prairies, and wetlands in their communities and at the Arboretum. The orientation will focus on classes that include learning online and in the field.

Winter Tree ID (Online and In-Person)
Online component begins Thursday, January 16
In-person class takes place Saturday, January 25, noon to 4 p.m.
Participants will learn to identify trees that have shed their leaves for the winter, and they will develop the skills to identify winter trees on their own using clues found in buds, fruits, leaf scars, bark and branching patterns. Before the in-person class, participants will learn basic skills and terminology with a short, online lesson. They will then spend time at the Arboretum in the field with an expert, learning to identify trees on the Arboretum’s grounds.

Basic Plant ID (Online only)
Online course materials available beginning Wednesday, January 22
Participants will learn the botany basics they need to identify plants with self-paced online learning modules. Narrated by an Arboretum plant expert, this online course includes interactive, no-pressure quizzes to help participants learn the vocabulary needed to name plants and describe their structures and life histories.

Tool Use for Natural Areas Management (Online and In-person)
Online component begins Tuesday, January 28
In-person component takes place Tuesday, February 4, 6:30–8:30 p.m. 
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. Participants will get to know the proper tools and learn to use the different tools safely. Discussion will also center on how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines and care for equipment.

Woodland Ecology (Online only)
Online course materials available beginning Thursday, January 30
This class will focus on 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. Discussion will center on the principles of woodland ecology underlying restoration practices, feature sites that represent different stages of restoration and explore the controversies surrounding management of these systems in an engaging online course.