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The Morton Arboretum's Destination Asia Festival Returns This August

Destination Asia Festival at The Morton Arboretum
The Destination Asia Festival will take place from Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4.
July 23, 2019

The Morton Arboretum’s Destination Asia Festival returns August 2-4, offering visitors a three-day exploration of the diverse cultures of Asia through live music and dance performances and as well as demonstrations in martial arts, sumo wrestling, bonsai pruning, origami, cricket and more.  

Kicking off on Friday, August 2 at 6:00 p.m., the event’s opening evening will feature the Japanese Toro Nagashi Ceremony,- floating lanterns to commemorate a loved one, significant event, or a wish for the future. Visitors will watch their candlelit lanterns float on the surface of the Arboretum's Meadow Lake, creating a beautiful nighttime display.  Lanterns can be purchased for $10.00 and decorated before the ceremonial release at approximately 8:00 p.m. 

Opening Night will also include an opportunity to learn about the Arboretum’s scientific efforts and collaboration with researchers in Asian nations to protect and conserve trees. Visitors can enjoy dance, drumming, a traditional Chinese lion dance, a first look at the bonsai show, sumo wrestling demonstration and authentic Asian cuisine. 

The festival will continue on Saturday, August 3, and Sunday, August 4, and will feature five performance areas showcasing a range of entertainment including traditional ensemble music from Bali, known as gamelan, an interactive Bollywood dance party,  Japanese storytelling, as well as music and dancing from the Philippines, Korea and Indonesia and more. 

The weekend will also feature athletic demonstrations including sumo wrestling, Korean tae kwon do, Filipino martial arts and Japanese shinkendo swordsmanship. Additionally, visitors can play games and enjoy activities common in Asian countries, including cricket,  badminton and origami folding. Throughout the weekend, festival goers can feast on Asian menu options provided by a selection of food trucks.  

In addition to cultural entertainment, visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the Arboretum’s extensive collection of trees from China, Japan and Korea.   The festival will also include the annual Prairie State Bonsai Society Show, which will provide visitors with the chance to view demonstrations and learn more about the ancient Japanese art of bonsai,  shaping and pruning trees for ornamental purposes. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite bonsai tree, register for a bonsai workshop or drop-in to a beginners class on Saturday and bring their own trees home.

“Destination Asia is a fabulous way for visitors to experience the food, art, entertainment and culture of 10 countries across Asia, without the need for a plane ticket. We are thrilled to bring this popular event back this year,” said Jenelle Hardtke, special events manager at The Morton Arboretum. “The festival also provides an opportunity to learn about and enjoy our Asian tree collections including our magnificent ginkgo trees and the endangered paperbark maple tree from China.”

The Destination Asia Festival runs from August 2 through 4, kicking off at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 2 and continues from 10 a.m. to4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The festival is free with Arboretum admission. For the full event schedule, visit mortonarb.org.